Giving Back: Al Jacquet – Passion for public service


By Jamie Salen The Pineapple Staff Writer “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost There are so many different paths one can take in life. Some are long and hard, some are slow and steady, and some are winding and lead you right back to where you began. All of our path’s led us to Delray Beach, and for a significant portion of our community, that path was the dream of a better life in the land of opportunity. Many have come and not all will succeed, but it is the stories of those who achieved their dream that keeps the spark lit for all the rest. The son of immigrant parents who left Haiti for the US, with dreams of a better future for their five young children, Al Jacquet was raised with a sense of gratitude for the opportunity he was given. With no more than a middle-school education, Jacquet’s parents tirelessly encouraged him to take advantage of the endless possibilities this country could offer. Having arrived in Delray Beach in time to begin third-grade at Banyan Creek Elementary School, Jacquet was pushed to take education seriously – and to say he did would be an understatement. From playing French horn in the school band, to wrestling and track and field state finalist, to Future Business Leaders of America, Spanish National Honor Society and Baccalaureate student, Jacquet gave his absolute all to eery opportunity laid in front of him. Outside of school he was the band youth director at his local church and had been involved in community service all throughout his youth. “I was very lucky to have parents who understood the immense value of education and while they were not educated themselves, they pushed me to focus and appreciate the opportunity.” – Al Jacquet Coming fromt humble beginnings only made Jacquet that much more appreciative for the opportunity to help others achieve. After earning several scholarships and working to make ends meet, Jacquet graduated college and worked his way through law school, even becoming president of the school’s Student Bar Association. Never having forgot where he came from and how fortunate he had been for the encouragement and support of others, Jacquet knew he wanted to dedicate his career to helping better the world. With the mentoring of his law school dean Bob Butterworth, former Attorney General, Mayor, Judge and State Trooper, Jacquet was shown how to bridge his passion for helping people with public service and elected office. Jacquet spent three years working in Tallahassee in the House of Representatives with State Rep. Mack Bernard, and was seriously considering running for state office when he realized Delray Beach was where he wanted to be – working to help the people of the community that gave so much to his family. Since making the decision to dedicate himself here, Jacquet has not looked back. A champion of education, he spends the majority of his time at local schools, reading, tutoring and mentoring. “I was very lucky to have parents who understood the immense value of education, and while they were not educated themselves, they pushed me to focus and appreciate the opportunity,” explains Jacquet. So many young people in our community are not as fortunate as I and they deserve a mentor to push them and believe in them as much as I had,” he adds. Last year Jacquet and fellow community leader Lee Cohen started The Edge, a local mentoring group focused on education and life skills. The group deals with everything from helping members find employment, to learning how to deal with hardship and personal issue. “The youth are our future and we need to do everything we can to guarantee them a quality education and a safe environment to live and thrive,” says Jacquet. When Jacquet decided to run for seat 2 on the Delray Beach City Commission, many thought he had no chance. The run for the seat was a four-way race and had been occupied for six years by the running incumbent. Jacquet went to the people and secured the vote of 1,500 residents who had never voted in a city election before. The historic win made Jacquet the first person of color ever to win the seat, and also marked the first time two people of color sat on the commission at the same time. Elected at the age of 32, Jacquet is also one of the youngest commissioners in Delray Beach history. With his dedication to the city’s youth, Jacquet has used his win to remind this community that anything is possible when you believe in yourself and you are willing to work. While there is no doubt he will continue to mentor Delray Beach students, his story, if shared, will be the shining star many young people in the community will use as a beacon to guide them against adversity and into their dreams. Delray Beach is fortunate to have Al Jacquet for the service he provides as a commissioner, as a mentor and as an example that pride and love for your community can make a real difference.