The OCP Blog

Featured Volunteer of the Month: Larry Jones

“Resilience: The way the water knows just how to flow, not force itself around a river rock; then surely I can stretch myself in the shape my own path is asking of me.”  – Corina Fadel

Mr. Larry Jones’ story resonates with other individuals who have participated in OCP’s vision. Our featured volunteer of the month, born in Washington, DC and grown in Cincinnati, was the third of three boys, raised by his mother while their father worked as a life insurance salesman. During his childhood, being in the middle class meant having enough financially. Yet in his youth he went through a world-shaking adverse experience.

He always wondered when he might find rest from the nightmare. His mother declined into severe mental illness, so while his family looked OK on the outside, it felt extremely difficult inside. “Since Dad was not a rampant alcoholic, it was hard to tell that we were not so stable,” he remembers.

After graduating high school, Mr. Jones attended Wake Forest University, where he studied religion. Trying to connect with a higher power, he tried to find peace within himself and make sense of his life. “I was never good at keeping relationships. I was depressed throughout my college career,” said our featured volunteer of the month. By the last year of his college education, he broke up with his girlfriend and went through a depression. He questioned what religion, matter, life were all about. He met Jesus for the first time.

The power that generated from this rebirth brought forgiveness, love, acceptance and freedom and allowed him to begin a healing process. He met his beloved, now the mother of his three children, Linda Jones. Over the next eleven years, our featured volunteer went through three different homes and in each his wife delivered a beautiful daughter. In the twelfth year after graduating seminary, he joined the Navy.

He retired from the Navy in 2006 and moved to Harrisonburg in 2009 to be near his oldest daughter and granddaughter. In 2010, he began to seek greater community participation, a chance to give back to the community of his daughter and grandchild. He wanted to work with people who’d gone through adverse experiences. Not seeking just any community center, he wanted to participate in an environment of growth, love and resilience. He Googled “community center” with his specific hopes, and Our Community Place was the name at the top of the list.

When I first met Mr. Jones, I told him that L, the first letter of my name, and his L, put together make a W – which makes a winner out of him and me! Our featured volunteer enjoys contributing his skills during our Tuesday workday program. I asked him one thing he’s proud of at OCP; he says it is the way OCP does conflict resolution and mediation with community members to bring people together.

Leons Kabongo

Programming & Activities Coordinator