This article was written by Andrew Rounds, an intern at Family Promise.
The Family Promise Good Neighbor Award highlights Family Promise staff members who are doing exceptional work in their communities.
Amy Jones builds bridges and unlocks community resources as the manager of volunteer engagement for Family Promise Union County (NJ). She has spent the last five years being fulfilled by the variety brought by her everyday responsibilities, particularly through the implementation of new initiatives that bring volunteers together with the guests and communities they serve.
“I think my role really is about facilitating ways for communities to care for each other,” said Jones. “I really think that’s what Family Promise does. I believe there is enough for everybody, we have enough in our communities for everybody, and we just have to figure out a way to share that equitably.”
Prior to joining Family Promise, Amy worked at Drew Theological School in Alumni Affairs while a student there. It was during this time she came to understand the significant role religious communities play in volunteer work. While at Drew, Amy met and worked alongside Cara Bradshaw, now Family Promise’s Chief Impact Officer, a connection that would eventually lead Amy to Family Promise. As Union County is also home to Summit, NJ, the birthplace of Family Promise, Amy says her role began in a way that served both Union County and the national team with a focus on volunteers.
“The role has always kind of straddled national and the local Affiliate,” said Jones, “which I think is the coolest thing, getting to see the many moving parts all the time.”
With local and national proximity, Amy has enjoyed the many opportunities she’s had to help contribute to new Family Promise initiatives that begin at the national level and result in immediate local impacts. One effort she is particularly proud of is the eviction diversion grant Family Promise received for some of its New Jersey Affiliates during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are great people doing great work and people have been able to stay in their homes, what we wanted from the beginning,” said Jones. “I’m really proud of the way we’ve innovated through the pandemic and transitioned our families to temporary shelter apartments where they can be safe and separate. It’s not only shown volunteers the value of our services to our guest families, but also how necessary it is for volunteer involvement. I’m really proud of how we’ve made that transition.”
Amy is excited for an innovative Family Promise partnership that’s poised to tap new volunteer resources. Along with four other Family Promise Affiliates, Family Promise Union County is piloting an initiative with The Open Table, a non-profit organization geared toward connecting people with relational and social capital.
“The model and concept around Open Table is ending poverty in a generational way,” said Jones. “The Open Table idea for that is building social capital. So much of how we function in the world is based on who we know, who can help us secure our next job or help us shop for a car. If you don’t know people in these sectors then you’re at a disadvantage, so this is really about building relationships so people can achieve their goals and dreams.”
In addition to the Open Table program, Amy says she is equally proud of Family Promise Union County’s tutoring program and the Living With Loss, Healing from Homelessness workshops they offer.
“All of our work is about engaging people in community,” Jones reiterates. “Helping them to form relationships with people they might not otherwise meet, to understand each other, to have empathy, and then to figure out a way to share our resources – economic, political, or social – all kinds of capital. I think that’s what it’s really all about.”
From picking up donations from a local congregation or working directly with guests and new volunteers on developing and existing projects, Amy finds the way one day differs from another keeps her energized and ready for what’s next in her role. That is one of the many reasons she receives this month’s Good Neighbor Award.