OCEANSIDE — This year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award recognized Edith Jones, 68, for her tireless work helping women.
Jones moved to Oceanside 11 years ago and quickly became involved with Soroptimist International of Oceanside-Carlsbad (SIOC) and North County African American Women’s Association (NCAAWA).
Jones said women are the foundation of family and community, and women of all ages benefit from opportunities to travel, further their education and learn about other cultures.
“I mostly do for women.” Jones said. “I definitely get a joy to know that something that I’m involved in, in a small way, is going to improve someone’s life.”
Many of her efforts have helped raise funds for scholarships for high school girls and women furthering or changing careers.
Jones initiated several fundraisers for the NCAAWA including The Author’s Garden Tea Party, Grooving on the Green, New Year’s Eve Gala, and Marching on the Fourth participation in the city Independence Day Parade. These events raised funds and increased recognition of the association.
Jones stepped up to serve on the NCAAWA board of directors, and has been board president for the past two years.
As a member of the NCAAWA she has helped with a mentoring program for teen girls. The program provides a variety of experiences for middle school girls including attending a formal tea, visiting the African American Museum of Fine Arts in Old Town, and hearing from keynote speakers on etiquette, health and leadership.
“You try to enrich their lives in different ways, and feel you have contributed something toward their success,” Jones said.
Jones is also a six-year board member of the Women’s Resource Center (WRC), which assists women and children who are survivors of domestic violence.
She volunteers to take free family portraits at the the center every November, in order for clients to have photos in time for the holidays. She said school photos are often too expensive for the struggling families.
Jones said some of her most rewarding moments are when she meets women who were helped by the center and have gotten back on their feet.
“They remember I took the pictures and it gave them joy,” Jones said.
Jones also donates or greatly reduces her photography rates for The Boys & Girls Clubs, the Friends of the Oceanside Public Library, KOCT-Community Television, North County Health Services, North County Philanthropic Council, Vista Community Clinic, SIOC, NCAAWA and other nonprofit organizations.
Additionally, she volunteers as a Meals on Wheels driver to deliver meals to homebound seniors, and Brother Benno’s Auxiliary member to help serve soup kitchen dinners.
Jones said she is proud of all her opportunities to serve the community and work with like-minded volunteers.
“I try to have a positive attitude and share that with other people,” Jones said. “I can’t say I met someone new or encountered someone who hasn’t added joy to my life.”
The Community Service Award was given to Jones at a commemoration celebration on Jan. 18. The award is given by the city of Oceanside to a resident of Oceanside or Camp Pendleton who exemplifies the ideals and teachings of Dr. King, and who has served as a longtime volunteer.