Mr. Jones and Ava’s mother split up with Ava was 2, and Mr. Jones left his job at Sam’s Club in Anderson, got a forklift job elsewhere and moved in with his mother and grandmother in Gastonia. When his grandfather needed help, Mr. Jones went to take care of him, and was devastated when his grandfather contracted Covid, then pneumonia, and died.
Meanwhile, Ava and her mother had moved in with a new boyfriend, and visitation became harder. Once, when making the exchange for his visit, his daughter told him that her mom’s boyfriend had put his hands on her, and Mr. Jones confronted him. The man swung at him, and the mother pulled a gun on him. For a while he sent his mother or grandmother to do the exchange.
At the next pickup, in late June, the met at the police station in Anderson. Things got heated, and ultimately, the boyfriend shot him three times, shattering both of Mr. Jones’s femurs. He’s in the process now of learning how to walk again. He laughs that since he’s the youngest person in his physical therapy classes, the older guys take care of him.
Throughout this ordeal, UFC has been there. “Upstate Fatherhood Coalition made me feel like I had a team, someone to support me. My Intervention Specialist was a friend I could call at any time; and I did!” Especially important were UFC’s peer support sessions. “I could talk to anyone. We’re all going through similar things and we’re all figuring out together—there for each other all the way. We’re all trying to be the best parents we can be.”
Mr. Jones is a great parent. He was awarded full custody of Ava. They live with his mother in his grandfather’s house, which now has 4 generations of baby pictures on its walls. Even more impressive? He also accepted full custody of the 8-month-old son of the man and woman who tried to kill him. “I’m raising their son. It’s not his fault, and it’s Ava’s brother. Plus, my grandmother has a real strong bond with him.”
But he couldn’t have done this alone. “Upstate Fatherhood Coalition made me feel like I had a team, someone to support me.” And that’s what family is all about.