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Blog Home > Selects CEO Joe Jones for Its "Faces of Hope" Feature Selects CEO Joe Jones for Its "Faces of Hope" Feature
[Excerpt from]

Joe Jones once sold and used drugs, was in and out of jail and not a very good father to the son he had out of wedlock. But all of this was a very long time ago. Today, Jones, a native of Baltimore, is in and out of the White House, working passionately to change life for African-American men and their families.

He is founder and president of Center for Urban Families (CFUF), an organization that cannot be introduced without its tag line, “Helping fathers and families work,” Jones insists.

His own life sparked the creation of CFUF.

He spent his early years in a high rise project in east Baltimore. “I had two loving parents. They had crazy schedules, but they tag-teamed raising me,” he said. “My father became an educator; my mom became a nurse.”

But when Jones was about nine years old his parents separated. He remembers looking out the living room window and seeing his father get into the car with a bag.

“That was the last time we lived together. He was not completely out of my life, but it was not the same relationship again,” said Jones.

His mom moved the two of them to the west side of Baltimore. Suddenly, Jones had a lot of alone time and he made new friends.

“My new friends were doing things I only heard about,” he said. “The first time I did drugs I was 13. I had never had sex or smoked marijuana. I went from being a naive kid who lived in the projects to a kid shooting heroin.”

After a while he was also selling drugs. He kept his lifestyle away from his parents, though they heard rumors. They got proof when Jones and some friends were caught shooting up heroin in a laundry room and were arrested. While his buddies got out of jail immediately, his mom decided to leave him in jail the weekend to teach him a lesson. She and Jones were surprised when the judge sent Jones away for 30 days to get “additional help.” It was his first time being incarcerated. It was also the first time he realized he was an addict.

“My father came to see me and gave me a book, Manchild in the Promised Land,” recalled Jones, who said he couldn’t put down Claude Brown’s autobiography of growing up poor amidst violence in Harlem. For Jones, the book was evidence you could change your life. He promised himself he’d never return to jail. Yet he did.

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