She has also volunteered at North Lee Elementary School for close to 10 years.
“What is amazingly ironic about that is when I was growing up, I didn’t like kids,” Poe-Jones said, laughing about how she grew out of that after she was married and now wishes she had started having children sooner.
She grew up in Cleveland, attended college at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, then came back to Cleveland where she eventually started her own laundry business. She has been in the laundry business for 21 years, and is the current owner of Blue Springs Laundry.
“My parents were self-employed, and I went to college and got a degree because I was not going to be self-employed and work all the crazy hours my parents did,” she said. “And I worked for two companies over the course of 18 months after I graduated, and I decided if I wanted to work for someone crazy, I’d work for myself.”
While she was at UTC, she met Lonnie Jones. The couple recently celebrated the 27th anniversary of their first date, and have been married for 21 years.
The couple’s first child was a son, so just like Poe-Jones had always hoped, she got the chance to enroll her son in the Boy Scouts of America organization in 2004.
At first, her husband took their son to the meetings on Tuesday nights because she worked at her laundry business that night. One week, after she had complained that she never knew what was going on in the troop, Lonnie offered to work for her so she could take Nicholas to his meeting.
“Their activity that night was to make boats out of paper,” she said, “and I just loved it. After that, it was a fight over who got to take him to Cub Scouts.”
She noticed a few ways the pack could improve organizationally and decided to volunteer to be on the board. She was soon put in charge of recruitment and grew the pack from 22 boys to 109 within two years.
“We actually had a retention rate of about 65 to 69 percent,” Poe-Jones said, noting that the typical retention rate is between 20 and 30 percent.
When Nicholas moved on to the Boy Scouts in 2008, he chose to attend Troop 10 at Broad Street Methodist Church, so his mom became a troop committee member there.
“Troop 10 has a reputation of being a ‘No Moms Involved’ troop,” she said. “Actually, there are no moms on campouts, but moms do a lot of other things. I’m very involved with that troop.”
Even though her son was no longer involved with the troop at First United Methodist, she soon found herself adopting the role of charter organization representative, acting as a liaison between the church and the troop.
Because of hard times, the Cub Scout pack at the church had dwindled, and there was a year when the church did not host a Cub Scout pack. In 2011, Poe-Jones asked permission to restart a Cub Scout pack at First United Methodist to serve as a feeder for the Boy Scout troop that also met at the church.
“That was the troop that my dad was in, Troop 136 at First United Methodist, and my son will be an Eagle Scout someday,” Poe-Jones said. “I really wanted the pack that he came from to still be in existence.”
She became committee chair for the pack and started the process of recruiting members and leaders for the group. While the pack is still growing, Poe-Jones said she feel very optimistic about its future.
Recently, she accepted the position of unit commissioner for four different Boy Scout units. Her job is to act as the liaison between the local troops and packs and the national organization.
“It’s a new-to-me job, and it’s one that I’m really enjoying,” Poe-Jones said.
Along with all of her work with Boy Scouts of America, Poe-Jones also serves as a troop leader for her daughter’s Girl Scout troop.
She and her daughter Haley went to their first recruiting meeting in 2006, but there were not enough girls interested to make a group for kindergarten and first-grade girls.
After two different Brownie troops were discontinued, Poe-Jones and a few other parents decided to find a place to establish a more permanent troop for their daughters to continue the program.
“I actually had a couple of parents come to me and say ‘What are you going to do about this?’” she said. “So I took the girls who were interested in continuing in Girl Scouts and we started a troop at [First United Methodist Church].”
The troop has been going strong for approximately three years now, and she plans to move with the troop as the leader until either her daughter, now 12, ages out of the program or decides not to do it anymore.
She has been managing all of her volunteer work on top of a hectic workweek that comes with owning a business.
“The first three years of my son’s life, I worked about 100 hours a week. When I had my daughter I was able to scale back to about 60 hours a week,” she said. “The thing I’m most proud of is, even though I work a lot, I’ve been able to do all the things that are important in their lives.”
Nowadays she works between 45 and 65 hours a week, but she and Lonnie still manage to set their schedules so she can attend all of her meetings, even though he owns two businesses of his own. Her husband also helps out with her volunteer work, especially around cookie time.
“They love it at the warehouse when it’s time for me to pick up my [Girl Scout] cookie order. He will come in and pick up six boxes at a time,” she said. “His nickname at work is Superman, and he believes in doing everything the right way and leaving everything better than it was.”
Despite of her busy schedule, Poe-Jones feels she has made good use of her time by pouring it into her children’s lives and the lives of other children in the community.
“I’ve made some of the best friends of my life volunteering, and [it’s fun] just knowing that you’re helping someone else do something, that you’re maybe giving them an opportunity they might not have,” she said. “If when I died, my tombstone said that I made a difference in a child’s life, I would consider that a life well-lived.”