Community and Nonprofit Work Speak to the Heart for Habitat’s Chelsea Jones
Chelsea Jones started out as a math major, but numbers didn’t inspire her.
Community and nonprofit work did.
As a student at Henrico’s Varina High School, Jones volunteered with the Key Club, where she particularly enjoyed supporting the Henrico Christmas Mother that helps families in need celebrate the holidays. She credits her Aunt Linda, a tireless volunteer for the Poquoson Woman’s Club, along with her Key Club advisors for nurturing her volunteer spirit and igniting what became a passion.
“They taught me how fun volunteering is,” Jones says.
As a senior at Christopher Newport University, Jones applied to get behind-the-scenes legislative experience as part of a VCU program. While awaiting acceptance, she applied for a community relations internship with the Norfolk Admirals.
“I accepted it and found out three days later I got into the VCU program,” she says.
Going behind the scenes of sports also appealed to her, says Jones, who immediately fell in love with giving back through sports.
As an Admirals intern, Jones arranged for the hockey players to read in local elementary schools and skate with fans on designated days at the seasonal ice rink outside of MacArthur Center. Sometimes she was in costume as team mascot Salty, a lovable dog with floppy ears. This led to a summer job with the Norfolk Tides, where she worked in game operations and promotions. “The thing I remember most was dressing as a hot sauce packet and losing in the hot sauce packet race every game,” she says.
The experience motivated Jones to complete a master’s in sports management at Old Dominion University, a program that included a senior capstone internship. Jones went all the way to Texas to intern in community relations for FC Dallas, a Major League Soccer club that also has its own foundation.
“I got my feet wet helping with galas and silent auctions,” she says.
After graduation, Jones landed her first job at a nonprofit , working for Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg, as a special events assistant to Virginia Staley, the director of development and events. She enjoyed the role but a year later, transitioned to more responsibility as an event coordinator for Liberty Military Housing, which serves those who serve our country.
Jones stayed for six years and planned free events of all sizes and scope for military families.
“The main thing was keeping everything cost friendly with our budget and then getting residents to attend unique events,” she says.
Last summer, Jones wanted a change to build her skills and applied to the local Habitat affiliate again after spotting an ad for an office manager. She was thrilled to be welcomed back.
“I love the staff and the morale here,” she says. “I knew this would be beneficial for my work career, and I love this position. I love that I am able to work with all the departments having a hand in everything.”
The bonus is “being able to see the homeowners from start to finish building their homes and the excitement they have. I like getting to know those families.”
Beyond work, the names of Jones’ cats explain another of her passions. She inherited her dad’s kitty, Mr. Mittens, but named her three Rhett, Darcy and Atticus.
That’s Rhett Butler from “Gone with the Wind,” Fitzwilliam Darcy from “Pride and Prejudice” and Atticus Finch from “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Jones is on a streak of reading on her Kindle for the last 950 days plus and has already read 134 books this year.
“One of my challenges is I have to read at least one book a month that I already own on my bookshelves so I can get rid of them,” she says – donating them, of course, to one of the three Habitat ReStores in Newport News, Yorktown and Williamsburg. Jones is also a concert lover and ardent sports fan — L.A. Kings and Atlanta Braves are two of her teams — who would like to visit every major sports arena in the nation.