WACO, Texas – Remarkable women and their light always shine brighter than most.
This is why FOX44 is highlighting one Central Texas woman and her work with hundreds of expecting mothers and children in McLennan County.
“‘With all that she has done, and is still doing for others, she is nothing short of a remarkable woman.’ [pauses] Oh, my,” says Debora Jones, as she reads the words sent to FOX44 from her daughter, who nominated her.
Debora has been the Director of the Economic Opportunities Advancement Corporation (EOAC) Head Start and Early Head Start programs in McLennan County for the past 20 years. And the words she just quoted from her own daughter bring tears to her eyes.
“You never know how your children see you through their eyes,” says Debora.
But it wasn’t just Debora’s daughter who sent in kind words. Her co-worker Bridget Montgomery calls Debora an “awesome supervisor, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.
“I feel that she is remarkable because I see the late hours that she puts in for our program to get the job done, and I am super proud of her,” says Bridget.
“We provide early childhood education for the zero to five population preschool. And then with Early Head Start, those pregnant women and our approach was to give teen girls an opportunity to not have to worry about childcare so that they could actually go back to school,” says Debora.
Seeing the outcome of her work, no matter what it took to get there, is what she loves the most.
“It’s to make a difference in the lives of children. To make a difference in the lives of families. To make a difference in the lives of our staff who often say, ‘Oh, Miss Jones, I thank you so much and you just don’t know what a difference you made.’ And I really don’t know, because I do it from the heart,” says Debora.
After putting in all this work, the Waco native is retiring in June.
“It’s bittersweet. I mean, she deserves a break. But I don’t want her to go because this is good guidance. I mean, this is early childhood education at its best right here,” says Bridget.
“It’s mixed. I’m a little sad because we have a great Head Start family that has been built over the years,” says Debora.
But putting work in the rear-view mirror means putting family front and center.
“I’ve already said, ‘I don’t want a retirement party, I just want a family trip.’ Where we are all going together. We’re going to spend time together. We’re going to be silly together. We’re going to relax together. So you know, I’d appreciate that more than anything,” says Debora.
Because for Debora Jones, her three daughters, 11 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren are everything to her.
“They are my motivators. They truly are. And that’s from the oldest to the youngest. And so, I have a great family and we spend lots of time together,” says Debora.
This is a family by blood, as well as those family bonds created in the workplace.