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Busy building pride

February 13, 2005|by DON AINES

Editor's note: This is the second in a four-part series featuring blacks who are making a difference in their communities.




chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - From his boyhood in Chambersburg to a career with a major corporation and his return to his hometown, Jack V. Jones' life seems to have come full circle.

"I was born and raised three doors down from this property," Jones, 60, said as he sat in the new South Main Street offices of Building Our Pride in Chambersburg Inc. (BOPIC), the nonprofit organization he has headed the past five years. "I was raised in these streets."

The children now growing up in those streets are one of Jones' biggest concerns, and BOPIC's Summer Educational Enrichment Program will take on a new look this year with more emphasis on the individual needs of the children and improving the life skills of young adults.

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It is a program serving a multicultural group of children with multiple problems, many from dysfunctional homes where they have learned few social skills and lack self-discipline. Jones believes "it takes a village to raise a child," and the village needs to have structured programs for these children.

"I'm just trying to go back to the basics of what our parents taught us," he said.

Jones lived in Chambersburg until the seventh grade, when his parents divorced and he moved with his mother to Harrisburg, Pa. As an adult, he became the director of Goodwill Industries in Elizabethville, Pa., then joined Pitney Bowes, retiring from the postal meter company as a senior accounts representative in December.

Jones has brought some of his business savvy from the corporate world to running BOPIC, now in its 15th year. BOPIC's founder got Jones involved early on.

"In 1992, Rev. Larry Johnson asked me to help with a career development program," Jones said. He would drive in from Mechanicsburg, Pa., on Wednesday evenings to teach teenagers "the basics of how to obtain employment."

He later branched out into fund-raising, public relations and grant writing before becoming BOPIC's president.

His first summer as president, Jones said the program was "in some disarray," short on funds and had about 80 kids participating.

"We've come a long, long way from that," Jones said, noting the summer program was teaching 300 kids a day. BOPIC also was feeding breakfast and lunch to those children and about 300 more through a contract with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, he said.

The staff of 17 included 13 serving as teachers or teaching assistants, many of them Shippensburg (Pa.) University students majoring in education. The budget was about $80,000 last year, and much of Jones' time is spent raising money from churches, community groups and government grants.

"Two years ago, we concentrated on getting more educational components into the program," Jones said, adding that running BOPIC has been an education in and of itself.

Last year, about 85 children were signed up for the pre-kindergarten program and "we were prepared to handle about 10," he said. He also learned that "I needed to go more in-depth with the summer enrichment program" for students from kindergarten through fifth grade.

The plan this year is to work with the teachers and staff at the children's home schools to identify the areas where the students need the most help. For adolescents, Jones wants to help participants get jobs and improve the everyday skills they need to keep and maintain their jobs.

"Is it going to work? I'll tell you when the summer is over," he said.

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