L-R: The Joneses: Bettye, Irene, Silas and Anita. Cira 1990, Albany, Georgia
My mother, Mrs. Irene Patricia Gaines Jones, who was a sixth grade teacher and librarian for thirty-nine years in southwest Georgia, passed in 1992. Under her leadership, education was the nucleus of our family and the natural choice for our mission when my husband, Rob Roehrick, and I created Gaines-Jones Scholars in 2002.
On January 9, 1997 when Delta Comair flight 3272 went down in Monroe County, Michigan, my family’s life changed forever. Due to an extreme winter storm, the small commuter plane crashed in a vacant field eighteen miles short of Detroit’s airport, claiming the lives of all thirty-nine passengers, including my sister, Dr. Bettye Jean Jones, 47. Bettye was Professor of Theater and Associate Dean of Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She was returning after attending a theater conference in Las Vegas. Her dearest friend, Edna Stanback, and our father, Silas J. Jones, had joined her for the trip. Two years after the plane crash, my father passed.
From the ashes of tragedy, Gaines-Jones Scholars was built. We are 501(c)3 with zero staff; operating from our home office with a bi-coastal Board since 2004. We give need-based college scholarships to Black students in southwest Georgia (my birth home) and the San Francisco Bay Area (our current home) in the memory of my mother, sister, and father.
We invite you to join us in our mission to help our Gaines-Jones Scholars start their lives without the burden of college loan debt. Please donate today.
Worth County, GA: My parents, Silas & Irene, before her retirement in 1988 in her school library.
Around the middle of the devastating 90s, our family was replenished with our daughter Miranda’s birth. When she turned 13, she and a group of friends founded Positive Impulse, the Gaines-Jones junior Board of Directors with a mission to help others locally and globally. Before dispersing to various colleges, they focused on homelessness, designing, fundraising and implementing several programs, including providing backpacks filled with necessities for homeless adults and school children.
My sister Bettye constantly told her undergrad and graduate students to “Stay in the process of life; focus not on the destination, focus on your journey.” Through her faith in forward motion and our parents’ dedication to education, our family transformed the tragic event of 1.9.97 into a clear mission ~ African-American college scholarships, youth advocacy and contributing resources and ideas to American education.