Pastor Tom Jones, president and CEO of City Rescue Mission in Oklahoma City, says, “I have always had a passion to help those who are in need.” His desire to help others started at an early age, after his alcoholic father left the family when Jones was 5. Twenty years later, Jones received the call that his father’s body had been discovered in an abandoned building.
“He had died as a homeless man living on the streets,” Jones says. “At that point in my life I felt I needed to try my best to help those that found themselves in his situation. He was a man that could not overcome his addictions alone. Even though addictions are difficult to break, people need to feel loved and accepted while they are trying to overcome them. Every homeless man is someone’s son, brother, uncle or dad. Every homeless woman is someone’s daughter, sister, aunt or mother. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect while they are seeking help.”
Jones, who has led City Rescue Mission for the past five years and builds upon 35 years of experience as a pastor, has spearheaded some of the mission’s most successful projects, including the most recent, the Impact Hunger Food Resource Center, that opened this past September. The center allows near-homeless clients who either receive food stamps or have a letter of recommendation from a church or aid agency to shop for food at no charge. “This allows for the working poor to get assistance with food and maintain their dignity,” Jones says. “They shop and select the food items that their family likes, not what someone else thinks they would like.”
During his term as president of the mission, Jones has overseen the creation and implementation of the Bridge to Life Recovery Program, which offers individual, holistic, solutions-based aid and is now being practiced at agencies across the nation. In the past four years, the program has seen some 1,000 graduates. Jones also directed the implementation of the mission’s new Job Placement Center, which is open to everyone in the community, homeless or not.
In addition to his responsibilities at the mission, Jones was appointed by Gov. Brad Henry to the Governor’s Interagency Council on Homelessness, and now chairs that organization and its efforts to foster collaboration amongst agencies that help the homeless across the state.
Of his life’s work, Jones says, “Our desire is to find solutions for every homeless person that enters our doors. Many would say that we are trying to work ourselves out of a job, but the truth is that there will always be people that face challenges and need our services.”