Jason Jones didn’t have to deal with too much transition when he was hired as the unit director of the Zebulon Boys & Girls Club on March 9.
Jones had already been serving as the club’s interim director since last September. He was filling in for former unit leader Karl Thoma, who was involved in a car accident on the way to the Boys & Girls Club camp in Spring Hope last August and later decided he was unable to return to work.
Thoma first started as a youth development professional in Zebulon and worked all 11 of his years with the organization at the Zebulon club.
Hugh McLean, vice president of operations for the Wake County Boys & Girls Clubs, said the organization was able to work through the situation thanks to having three full-time professionals at the Wake Forest club. Jones was a youth development professional in Wake Forest for just over five years before being asked to help out in Zebulon.
“It made sense to move him out there in an interim role to help give leadership and guidance,” McLean said of Jones. “Everybody that has been in the club in the fall and winter has said it’s really been great to work with Jason. We’re extremely happy and the community will be extremely happy. He’s a great guy, and will do a great job.”
Community is an important word to Jones, whose goal is that the club takes on more of a community culture under his watch.
“It’s trying to help reach the needs of the community in terms of education and poverty, and healthy lifestyles as well,” he said of his objective as director.
Jones, who holds a degree in recreation administration from Morris College in South Carolina, said the shift to the Zebulon club has been eye-opening.
“Each club has a different culture,” Jones said. “Just coming in here and trying to change the culture has been little challenging, but I’ve just been enjoying the kids. The kids really love the club and really take ownership of it.”
Jones said his passion for working with youth is something that runs in his family; several of his family members were model educators during his childhood.
It really hit Jones that he wanted to pursue work in the field after he organized a youth mentoring program with the parks and recreation department in Myrtle Beach, where he worked prior to taking the job with the club in Wake Forest.
Jones and Youth Development Professional Nathan Searcy now make up the Zebulon club’s staff, which has changed completely over the past 12 months after years of continuity.
Searcy replaced longtime Zebulon Youth Development Professional Durell Petway in May, 2014 when Petway was named the director of the Raleigh Boys Club in late 2013.
“The bottom line is that there are programs and activities for the kids to do, and Jason and Nathan have certainly done a great job of keeping it going,” McLean said. “One of the key things they do is form relationships with the kids where they can guide and motivate them.”