Jackie O’s has brewed a new beer and is donating 100% of the proceeds to several different organizations.   

Collaborating with the San Antonio-based Weathered Souls Brewing Co., Jackie O’s brewed a “Black is Beautiful” beer. The beer contains notes of rich brownie batter, burnt caramel, toasted pecan, dark roasted coffee and subtle citrus, according to Jackie O’s’ website. All of the proceeds are going to Black Lives Matter, The Bail Project and locally Mount Zion Baptist Church Preservation Society.

“We sent a survey to all current Jackie O's employees to ask which organizations our staff wanted to support, and then narrowed down the organizations based on our goal of supporting a local organization, as well as a national organization,” Sophia Karageorge, marketing and event manager at Jackie O’s, said in an email.

In her role as president of the Athens Mount Zion Baptist Church Preservation Society, Cherri Hendricks balances the two disparate concepts of past and future in her work. She, along with other board members, is working to preserve the robust heritage and structure of the historically-Black Mount Zion Baptist Church and, while revitalizing it, creating a Black community hub that Athens residents can benefit from in the future.

The Mount Zion Baptist Church was built between 1905 and 1909 by a number of free-born and formerly-enslaved Black Americans. A key gathering place for the Black community of Athens, the church provided educational opportunities for its members, hosted choir rehearsal, and fostered a space free of racial discrimination.

In the early 2000s, the church disbanded and fell into disrepair. Seeing a critical piece of history crumble spurred the creation of the preservation society in 2013.

“I think that it is worthy of preserving,” Hendricks said. “The church is a symbol of the Black community here in Athens. And aside from the church, there are no community spaces – Ohio University not included, of course.”

The preservation society’s goal of saving the church is not cheap though. Before the space can be transformed, it must be maintained.

“The main project that we have been working on right now is just raising money to save the actual structure,” Hendricks said.

Past fundraising efforts have included a movie showing that the preservation society co-hosted with the Athena Cinema and a roller skating party in Nelsonville. The coronavirus pandemic has proven to be challenging for fundraising planning, especially because of the limited broadband access in Southeast Ohio.

“A lot of the people that we want to reach out to in the community live maybe out in Kilvert… or Chester Hill, or places like that, where the internet access is spotty,” Hendricks said. “You know, it's difficult to gather, so we're trying to creatively think of ways to engage the community.”

The preservation society has been grateful for the donation from Jackie O’s, feeling acceptance and support from within their own community.

“It's one thing when people come from out of town, and say, ‘Oh, you know, this is a good idea,’” Hendricks said. “But I think that Jackie O's’ really heartfelt gift to us is indicative of that type of spirit that you can find an Appalachian, and the reason why many of us make this our home and we stay here.”

Members of the community were also excited to see Jackie O’s supporting the preservation society and other organizations.

“I thought it was really cool that Jackie O’s would do something like that,” Aiyah Shepard, a senior studying child and family studies, said in a message. “I feel that it was a great decision to donate 100% of the proceeds to Black Lives Matter, Mount Zion and The Bail Project. I think they’re all great movements and the money is going to a good cause.”

Jackie O’s will continue to sell its Black is Beautiful beer for as long as supplies last. It can be purchased at Jackie O’s Taproom, 25 Campbell St., Jackie O’s Public House Restaurant, 22 W Union St. or online at jackieos.com.

Right now, the preservation society does not have any specific plans for the donation. The structure of the church is being evaluated by a firm, and the society wants to be sure they can pay for the next steps of preservation.

“The community has really reached out in a good way and embraced the Mount Zion project,” Hendricks said. “We're very excited.”