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Phillips: Community service
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There are a great many people around here, and indeed the world over, who genuinely care about their communities and their neighbors and do whatever they can to make their community and neighborhood a better place to live and work. We have numerous people like those right here in Kershaw County, many of whom are perfectly content to remain behind the scenes and quietly do good work not for the glory or accolades, but rather for the satisfaction they feel knowing they’re making a difference.

One such man was recognized and honored last week at the meeting of the Kershaw County Council. Mr. Bobby T. Jones has led the kind of life we all should aspire to. Even as a small child, he knew the value of hard work and he was enterprising, working as much or more than he played. That set the pace for a lifetime of personal and public service.

Jones served in the U.S. Army, went to college and became a teacher and coach. He passed his work ethic on to his students and athletes and there are now many who call Jones an inspiration, mentor and friend. He worked his way up through the ranks and became a school principal. He was always ready, willing and able to go that extra mile and he has served on several local, county and state boards and commissions. He has always believed in “government by the people” and has always been willing to get involved while others only gripe about things but never strive to make changes.

Most recently, Jones has been on the KershawHealth Board of Trustees and has worked at The ALPHA Center in Camden, a drug and alcohol education and treatment facility. Given his background in education, he’s a perfect fit for the job, which has him visiting schools in Kershaw County to advise the students on life skills and maturity that will serve them well throughout their lives.

As the reporter who covers county council, I was in my usual place, front row and center at last week’s meeting. It was very inspirational to hear about Jones’ accomplishments and the comments about him from Kershaw County Council Chairman Julian Burns, ALPHA Center Director Executive Paul Napper (who until recently was also on the KershawHealth board) and from Jones himself. It’s quite a story, of a Bethune-area resident who made the most of the opportunities he found, made a few of his own and rose to prominence in his community, county and state.

Bobby T. Jones, it’s a honor to know you.

On a different, but similar topic. I was also honored to be invited to last Saturday’s 29th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet presented by the Kershaw County Chapter of the NAACP. Kershaw County Councilman Sammie Tucker Jr. is chapter president and saved me a seat at his sponsored table. I do enjoy seeing this group of fine people gather together for the common cause of improving our community. I get to cover their activities now and then and am proud of them for all the good work they do. Purely by fortunate coincidence, I was seated beside Jones and had a very pleasant and informative conversation during the delicious meal, especially on the history of Bethune.

My story on the NAACP event is in today’s front page, so I’m trying to be careful to not just repeat the same information, but I must say former State Rep. Bakari Sellers, the evening’s featured speaker, did a very good job and got his points across using facts and no small amount of humor. It’s not hard to see why that young man has accomplished so much already and surely has a bright future, as well.

As Tucker said during his remarks, it’s important to get younger people involved in the community, because as cliché as it sounds, they really are the future. Someone has to step up and be a leader, or everyone will be followers, with no direction whatsoever. That’s the kind of mess this world already has too much of.