In the modern world of instant gratification, obsession with appearances, and the “look at me!” attitude, there are few young people who do good solely for the sake of doing good.
Nick Jones, a lifelong resident of Huntsville, is one those people.
Nick is all about Huntsville’s youth. All day, every day, he is in some fashion using his time and effort to help kids. Especially the kids that grew up like him, the ones who had constant adversity.
I sat down with Nick to pick his brain, to understand his motivation, to dissect the reasons for why he does what he does.
No one has told his story, but the story deserves telling.
This is the story of Nick Jones.
Growing Up In Butler Terrace
Nick Jones grew up in a single parent household in the Huntsville housing project of Butler
Terrace. He had a loving mother, grandmother, and siblings, but there were many tough times. Nick says “there weren’t many positive role models in the area but plenty of negative ones. There also weren’t any resources to further yourself.”
Nick’s younger years were marked by tragedy. Nick had five close friends. Four of them were murdered while Nick was a teenager. His own tough times during his youth, as well as the memories of his deceased friends, inspired Nick to become a positive force for Huntsville’s at-risk youth.
He would turn his adversity into good.
When Nick graduated from Huntsville High School in 2007, he knew his life’s mission, which he describes as “empowering kids to make positive decisions, to stay on track.”
Nick and the Boys & Girls Club
Nick grew up attending the Huntsville Seminole Boys & Girls Club. His first job out of high school was at the same club. Nick was the Character, Leadership & Recreation director at Seminole, spending almost every day serving children for 14 straight years. He mentored, taught, coached, or in some way helped more than 1,000 Huntsville children during his tenure at the Boys & Girls Club.
But what’s more important is the work he did after hours, off-the-clock.
“I would give most kids my cell phone number,” he said. “I told them that if they ever needed anything, let me know. I’ll handle it.”
Many of those kids did call Nick.
He recalls one phone call from a child at 1 a.m. whose parents were in an altercation. The terrified child’s first call was to Nick Jones. Nick got dressed, drove over and personally rescued the child from a dangerous situation. It didn’t make the news, because Nick wasn’t after attention.
Other kids would send him messages late at night telling him they were hungry. Nick never
turned down an opportunity to get that child a hot meal, even if it meant getting out of bed and paying out of his own pocket. I asked him how many times he did this. He had no clue because it was a routine thing. A routine mission.
Nick unfortunately also spent a lot of time attending funerals and helping the deceased’s
children cope. He says “it was pretty common for several of our kids’ parents to die every year. It was tough on them. I tried to be there as best I could.”
Nick remembers one such tragedy with full clarity. He helped a young girl create a special craft that she put into her father’s casket at graveside. With a little quiver in his voice, Nick told me “…and she still calls me to this day to tell me how much she appreciates me.”
Nick Jones Today
In 2022, Nick made a tough decision to leave the Club. The Club meant the world to him, but he saw another opportunity to make a difference in the development of Huntsville youth. Nick now works as a P.E. teacher at a Huntsville elementary school doing what he does best – empowering kids to make positive decisions.
Nick is also a diehard Tennessee Vols fan, so he’s probably rooting on the Vols basketball team right now. But why Tennessee? How could a lifelong Alabama resident do such a thing?
Nick tells me that his family didn’t have cable TV when he was a child in the 90s. Due to this, the most common college football team that he could get on the family TV was Tennessee. At the time, Peyton Manning was leading the Vols to much success, so they frequently aired on channels not requiring cable. Even his favorite college team was chosen by adversity.
And while much of his life has been formed by adversity, he has taken the adversity and turned it into a power for good.
Huntsville is lucky to have him as a citizen. And our city’s youths are lucky to have him as their hero.
Bart Siniard is a personal injury attorney with the Huntsville law firm of Siniard Law.