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February 19, 1997

Drilling Down

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Countless children and their families traipse through the Jones Center for Families in Springdale, Ark., each year. They host birthday parties, take a swim, skate around the rink, attend church services, and use the computers at the facility—all for free, and all thanks to the late Bernice Jones.

That doesn’t even begin to describe what Bernice, who died at age 97, did for her community. To be fair, many people don’t even know about the way she affected her community for good—she preferred to keep her giving and financial information as private as possible. But we do know that she and her late husband, trucking magnate Harvey Jones, set up a lifetime of giving—without expecting a thing in return. And the most remarkable element of their giving was that it targeted a huge diverse swath of people and things.

During the Great Depression, Harvey and Bernice rented a building, hired a teacher, and paid for supplies to keep the Springdale School District open. In the 1950s, they helped develop the city’s first hospital; in 1992 Bernice pledged $25 million to a local medical center.

Students also benefited from Bernice’s Power of One. When she could have kept her riches for herself, instead she paid for computers and Internet access for the entire Springdale School District; she established a school of fine arts, and a center for community design at the University of Arkansas School of Architecture in Fayetteville; and many, many more things no one but the recipients of her kindness—if even they—know. And that’s the way she wanted it.

She sounds like a wonderful person. And many people say they’d be like her, too, if they had her money. But that’s not true. Bernice had a heart of gold in spite of, not because, of her money. She knew that she could make a difference in many people’s lives, and that’s what she set out to do. She understood that by giving so freely of her time, energy, kindness, money, and compassion, she could improve one life at a time. She poured her Power of One into all sorts of people and all sorts of things.

You may not have the financial resources of Bernice Jones. But you do have the opportunity to make a difference. The Power of One knows no financial bounds, no age restrictions, no life position rules. It only knows one person helping one other person.

Are you the person helping—or the person waiting to be helped?

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