Saturday, September 20, 2014

State rep juggles jobs, family

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 6/14/2013

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” — Rev. Theodore Hesburgh.

State Rep. Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville, makes sure to take time out of his busy schedule to not only spend time with his children, he said, but to make sure his kids see he and his wife, Nicole, together as well.

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” — Rev. Theodore Hesburgh.

State Rep. Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville, makes sure to take time out of his busy schedule to not only spend time with his children, he said, but to make sure his kids see he and his wife, Nicole, together as well.

“Being a father, my first priority is my relationship with Nicole,” Jones said. “It’s important the kids see we’re spending time together.”

Family is a top job for Jones and his wife, he said. The couple have built their lives around their family and instilling positive values in their children, he said.

“We have a big thing on our wall that has our mission statement as a family, and at the top are 10 values. Number one is family,” he said. “It’s not only something we say, but have written down and we want our kids to value family highly.”

Though Jones’ main job is being a husband and father, he said, it’s only one of the many hats the father of five wears. Jones has his Bachelor of Science and education degree — with a sports science, pre-physical therapy focus — a master’s degree in ministry and leadership, and he served six years in the U.S. Army earning his Green Beret. He also is a Wellsville school board member, a member of the Franklin County Planning Commission, a Booster Club member, an active local church leader, a freshman state representative, a published author, an eBay seller, a real estate agent, a consultant and he and his wife run Wellsberry Farms, a blackberry farm in their backyard.

‘IT’S DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND’

Leading a busy life hasn’t always been easy, Jones said. When oldest child Matty was only 1 month old, Jones departed to join the Army. Leaving his new wife and baby behind was one of the most difficult things he’s had to do, Jones said.

“That was the hardest thing,” he said. “When my wife was crying, as I was getting into the van to drive to Kansas City to go to Georgia and my wife was holding Matty, who was only 1 month old, and she’s crying and Nicole’s struggling to comfort the baby and had literally three minutes before I had to leave. I couldn’t swallow. It was emotionally one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced.”

After basic training, which lasted three and a half months, Jones got to see his wife and daughter again for a short time while at airborne training, he said.

“[Matty] was pushing herself up and rolling around, so that was crazy,” he said. “In airborne, she was 4 months old. She knew my voice.”

It would be another nine months until Jones would see his wife and daughter again, he said. After having been gone so long, Jones said, it was difficult to fill the “dad” role.

“The second time I saw her was closer to a year, and she was more like ‘Who in the world are you?’” he said. “Anytime you’re away from your kid, after a year or longer deployment, what happens is there’s a discipline part and just getting into the roles. Your wife’s been doing the teaching and encouragement, and you come back and mix together. It makes it hard to come back together and do all those things. It’s one of those things that unless you experience it, it’s difficult to understand.”

LIFE AFTER THE MILITARY

Jones officially left the Army in October 2012, he said. After returning home to Wellsville in 2010, though, he said, he got into real estate.

“After I was first out of the military, I thought one thing that might be fun would be to sell real estate,” he said. “I’d been selling on eBay all through the military. I got hooked up with Layton Real Estate’s Barbara Kearney.”

Realizing he’d come into a difficult selling market, Jones decided to focus more on his eBay business — something he’d never really gotten away from, he said.

“You sell what you know, and I have medical in my background,” he said. “I was in Topeka driving back [to Wellsville] and stopped at a garage sale... I saw a knee brace and I knew the brace was worth something, so I asked how much. They said $1 and I sold it for $110 [on eBay].”

Selling items on eBay isn’t something Jones does on a full-time basis, but often it is a daily activity, he said. After returning from the Army, Jones said he focused more on selling and wanted to see how far it could go.

“I like to focus on shoes, athletic shoes, and that’s what I sell currently and sold basically all through the military, too,” he said. “When I was deployed, right before, I got a bunch listed, like 300 things. So while I was deployed, in my free time and when I was able to, I’d re-list things and my wife would ship them for me. By the time I got home I only had like 20 things listed.”

Using eBay to make extra money is great, Jones said, but what he really loves about it is the time it allows him to spend with his family.

“Right now if I just did eBay, I could do a lot more than what I do,” Jones said. “It allows you to be at home with your kids and wife. It allows me to be able to do that.”

SERVING THE PEOPLE

Becoming a state representative was not something Jones had given much thought to, he said. He always knew he had a calling to serve the people, and the call didn’t stop just because he was out of the military.

“One of the things I really believe is to serve others — and that’s what I intend to do,” Jones said. “This was not my intention. It was my intention to be in public service, but not to be a state representative until the day before I had to file.”

It wasn’t until he got a call from a well-known Franklin County community member that he gave running in the 2012 House District 5 race much thought, he said.

“I talked to Nicole and we talked and prayed about it, and that’s how I ended up running for a House seat,” he said. “When I did that, Nicole made me promise to give up something I was involved in. There’s a quote that says, ‘One of the greatest attributes of a leader is his ability to say no.’”

Serving the people doesn’t stop at being in the military or being a state representative, Jones said. It means getting involved in the community and making it as great of a place as possible.

“For me, putting down roots is getting involved,” he said. “We could just hang out, but for me, I have a vision for my town and county and my state. Because this is my home, I want to make it the best it can be. I believe this county is one of the greatest counties in our state and my district. I really believe that, it’s not something I manufacture or make up.”

FAMILY FIRST

With Father’s Day Sunday — a day when dads are supposed to sit back and relax — Jones said sitting still and not doing anything is the most difficult thing for him to do.

“The hardest thing for me to do as a pastor, the hardest command to follow, is to keep the Sabbath holy and rest,” he said. “I get rest when I work after a hard day’s work. For me, I get rest at the end of a hard day, and I look back and go ‘I worked hard today.’ That’s rest. It makes my heart feel good.”

Sitting down for dinner as a family each night is something Jones and his wife have made a commitment to doing, he said, but it’s something he honors and thinks that time spent together is important.

“First and foremost, I truly believe couples need to do their best to honor each other,” he said. “Nicole and I, we’ve made a commitment to do work I can do around the kids as much as possible.”

Some people think Jones is high energy because of all the work he does, he said. The harder Jones works, the more he’s able to spend time with his family, he said.

“I’m here at least as much as possible, and I can get off the phone and hang up and play with [the kids],” he said. “I get to see them as much as I want. The only thing that would be better, would be to be around them all the time.”

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