Text by Cindy Jones, Donor and Board Member
One of the best meals I ever had came courtesy of a Chili’s in the Fall of 2008. There was nothing particularly memorable about the food. I can’t remember a thing anyone ordered, actually. The thing that made this meal special was the people I shared it with. A Euless firefighter. A church employee who spoke to us about his dream — our dream — of a better community. And me. Cindy Jones, a journalist-turned marketer for a health insurance company who was looking to get involved in something that went beyond work or school obligations. I wasn’t expecting my life to change because I had lunch in a chain restaurant. How could I have known that we would be launching a nonprofit that would endure for years, or that I would end up on the Board of Directors with a bunch of business people that I hadn’t met yet?
I have been part of First Baptist Church of Euless for more than 30 years. My husband, Gary, and I met in the First Euless Singles’ department a few years after I arrived, and we will celebrate our 25th anniversary in December. We were there when the church fell into debt, and we were there then they faithfully paid off the more than six million dollars they owed. There was a time when we shopped around for another congregation, but we always found ourselves coming home to Euless. Throughout those years of transition, we heard about the monument being erected to represent The Miracle: a stone for every million dollars of debt that disappeared. So I understood completely when Scott floated a name for the non-profit we were hoping to launch.
“What if we call it 6 Stones?”
Way Back When
Back in 2008, there was no Night of
Wonder Hope. We weren’t sending kids Back 2 School. Community Powered Revitalization was just a seed; we had repaired only two homes under the name “Euless Revitalization (ER).” Scott had only a dinky little paper flyer about ER; a program that, years later, has touched more than 500 homes. As for me, I wasn’t a Board member yet. There wasn’t a Board! In fact, I was the co-chairman of a special community event called “The 360 NW Coalition Gives Back.”
Earlier that year, my neighborhood had successfully leveraged funds from gas drilling rights for our property, and I helped to organize a wine tasting and silent auction that would turn those proceeds into something bigger. That night, we raised more than $36,000 for charitable causes. We were able to give a third of that money to Scott and his little paper flyer. He used it to build a bunkhouse for a family of 17 who were sharing three bedrooms under one roof.
Gary and I have been supporting 6 Stones financially since Scott’s dream became a reality in January of 2009. Two years later, I was asked to bring my “spirit” to the 6 Stones Board of Directors–Scott’s words, not mine, but I jumped at the chance. I was excited to expand my involvement in the organization and use my marketing background to help tell the story of 6 Stones in a more concise manner. Since then, our programs have expanded beyond the HEB area and our financial and volunteer participation has grown as well. I have been amazed at the things that God has done with the dreams and generosity of the people I shared lunch with at that Chili’s that day long ago.
A Personal Investment
It’s a very personal decision to give monetarily to a non-profit on a regular basis, but it’s one that’s worth making. For us, supporting 6 Stones was an opportunity to teach our young daughters the value of helping people in need. It was a chance to show them that there might even be people struggling right next door. We all learned something about what it meant to be blessed, and what it meant to bless others. And, as we all learned, we could watch the effects of our giving in real time. That’s the beauty of supporting a local organization–it’s yours.
I grew up as the daughter of a Baptist preacher, so I knew the importance of giving. But I wanted our daughters, Audra and Olivia, to learn about the value of charity firsthand. It became our family tradition. It became normal for our girls to donate money from their allowances to 6 Stones. We showed them that their little gifts could combine with other kids’ money to help out students who weren’t as fortunate as them. That set the foundation for a lifetime of giving — money and time — to help families in need. After a while, we weren’t content to simply give money. We started donating our time. We distributed backpacks, repaired houses, adopted families at Christmas and gathered food and clothing for men and women who had less than we did.
All in the Family
When the Community Garden was built, we were one of the first families to get plots and start growing produce. Gary became a Row Captain, as well as a founding member of the Garden planning team. Meanwhile, both Audra and Olivia were required to serve a minimum of 100 of community service hours to qualify for honors at graduation. They earned the majority of those hours at 6 Stones.
Because of her involvement with 6 Stones, Audra — now a senior at Texas State University — is actively giving back to her college community in San Marcos. She knows how to paint a house, plant a tree, or organize a special event for her sorority’s charity. Olivia will graduate from high school this year, but she has been active in the Community Garden since she was a Heritage Middle School Bronco in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD.
She and Gary have done more than just plant seeds in that garden. They have made amazing memories by “growing” together. It’s tough to have your baby birds “fly away from the nest,” but I know that Gary and I have done all we can to ensure that Audra and Olivia will make a difference in whatever community they live in. I fully expect that Olivia will continue to give back to her community when she follows her sister to Texas State in the Fall. Having 6 Stones as a place we could all volunteer together made life simpler as they entered middle school and high school. It only got better as I got more involved.
Giving to 6 Stones is more than just writing a check. It can change lives. Over the last eight years, I have seen single moms in difficult circumstances come to 6 Stones for food and clothing, stabilize, then turn around and give back to other families in need. I have seen children’s faces light up when they receive a new backpack and school supplies. Prayed with families who live in deteriorating homes as our volunteers went to work, only to discover that those families have never had anyone pray for them before. Watched men come to 6 Stones simply to fulfill legal obligations walk away with their lives literally saved. When we give to 6 Stones, we are helping to give the entire community that same generous foundation that we gave to our daughters.
6 Stones affects more people than the ones who come to us with physical needs. The work they do in this community helps all of us to grow, whether we are rich, poor, healthy, or sick. My life changed for the better because I am part of 6 Stones. The same is true of Gary’s life. Audra and Olivia’s, too. I believe in this organization; the work it is doing and the work that it does in us. It has brought people into my life that I never would have met, and without whom I cannot imagine living now. 6 Stones is a family that draws itself together in ways you can’t possibly anticipate. I love it, and I hope that you’ll consider being a part of it with me. With us.