The single mom credits the pastor and Corps Officer of the Salvation Army, as well as the grace of God, for giving her a second chance; a chance to leave a life of drugs and look toward the future.
"She helped me and my kids in a lot of ways. When I had nowhere to go, she brought me in, along with my sister and her five kids," said Seward, 36, of Oakley, who now works as a Program Aid for the non-profit on East 18th Street in Antioch.
"I'm raising my son - he's 16 - and my sister's five kids, and I have my own place to live. I look at people and think, 'If you only knew who I used to be!' Prayers do work and it's amazing what God can do."
Capt. Jackie has known about what God can do, because He gave her direction in her own life 13 years ago. When she found herself searching for a new church home, she audibly heard the voice of God tell her to go to the Salvation Army. She had no idea the place was a church.
She found one in Antioch and joined the Christian, non-denominational faith, if they promised to let her design her own uniform. Years of work for the San Francisco Macy's turned her tastes against the likes of polyester. The Salvation Army allowed her to craft her own uniform and the rest is history.
Her work with the Salvation Army as captain involves serving East County residents through community assistance programs that are based on public donations.
The underpaid staff work as bell ringers during the holidays, support after-school programs for children and the youth, and gather, assemble and distribute 600 Christmas bags filled with gifts and groceries for the poor.
Capt. Jackie, also known as "Nana," mentors young women such as Seward on a one-on-one basis.
"The thing that I love most about my job is the change in the lives of people," said Capt. Jackie, 55, once a Brooklyn, New Yorker. "You can feed a person for a night, but they're gonna be hungry again. What I'm really here for is to introduce them to a better way of living."
Considered a social agency, the non-profit organization was founded in England in 1865 by General William Booth. Originally known as the Christian Mission, it became the Salvation Army in 1878, complete with a command structure and uniforms.
The Antioch branch conducts weekly food distributions to the needy, has a full library, hosts a PREP program, Pregnancy Resourcing, and Empowerment Project for young women to obtain their GED.
It also helps these women learn survival skills such as conflict resolution, budgeting, balancing a checkbook, shopping skills and preparing nutritious meals.
"Capt. Jackie gave me a job, helped me with my son through the court system and get guardian of my nieces and nephews. She helped me to focus and learn how to be the person I am now. She cared for me," said Seward, whose son, Michael, is a sophomore at Freedom High School.
Although considered one of the top three charitable organizations of the United States, the Salvation Army has many needs.
"We are looking for members to join our advisory board; volunteers to pack toy and gift bags for 600 families; donations; turkey; and monetary gifts," said Capt. Jackie.
When God called her to work for His army 13 years ago, she knew it was important to listen and obey.
"At the end of my life, I'm going to stand before my judge and I want him to say to me, 'Well done.' I don't fear many people, but I do fear God," said Capt. Jackie, who has two grown children and nine grandchildren.
Life on the streets for Seward was tough on her son, who was bounced from school to school. Learning stability and responsibility through the Salvation Army has given her hope, something she never thought she'd have.
"It took a year to get back on my feet. I know there are many other mothers out there who are in a place where I used to be. I always thought I'd never have a car or a place to live," said Seward, who grew up in St. Anne, Ill. "I give back to the Salvation Army through my time."