CLA Award: Personal devotion to Guatemalan kids

Adviser and husband have funded college for students, created charitable trust

Oct 13, 2013 @ 12:01 am

By Liz Skinner

Global Community Impact:

Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones, a financial adviser in The Woodlands, Texas, with Edward Jones, received the Global Community Impact Award for her generous commitment to Casa Para Ninos Aleluya, an orphanage in Guatemala.

Since Ms. Jones first witnessed the impoverished conditions of the Central American country nine years ago, she and her husband have funded college for about 250 Guatemalan students, to the tune of about $800,000. She also created a $5 million charitable trust to be donated to the orphanage after her death.

Ms. Jones said she felt compelled to help after her first visit to Guatemala with a church mission trip in 2005.

“I was completely blown away by the poverty and the amount of homeless children; it broke my heart,” she said in an interview. “It makes me feel so fortunate to be born on this soil — born in a country that you have every opportunity if you have passion and desire.”

The $20,000 award from the Invest in Others Charitable Foundation will offer more of these struggling children the opportunity of an education, she said.

“My husband, Michael, and I believe that when you give the gift of an education, you can not just change a life, you can also change a country,” Ms. Jones said when she accepted the award at a ceremony in New York last month. “These children could become the future leaders of Guatemala and make improvements to a country by applying the Christian principles and an education that they're receiving at Casa Para Ninos Aleluya.”

The orphanage, started by a husband-and-wife team of missionaries 24 years ago, has helped to raise about 200,000 children who were abandoned and abused. Guatemala suffered many years of civil war and still faces 50% chronic child malnutrition and 30% illiteracy, according to a World Bank report.

Ms. Jones has sponsored three girls through the program, including one who ran away at 7 after being sexually assaulted and forced to drink Clorox until she passed out, Ms. Jones said. Ms. Jones now has two young children of her own, and a third due in January.

Ms. Jones, who is of no relation to the namesake of her employer, each year visits Guatemala and the girls she calls her daughters.

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