MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphian Crystelle Jones was nominated as a Remarkable Woman. WREG’s Alex Coleman shows us why.
At the corner of Lamar near Pendleton sits a building that stands out from the rest — the Harriet Performing Arts Center.
Come inside and you’ll hear Crystelle Jones, almost like a proud mother, talking about how positive change can happen even at this old fire house.
The former firehouse is now a state of the art performing arts center for under-served young people interested in the arts and theater.
“I was recently named president of the young actors guild, the Harriet Foundation,” Jones said. “It’s a parents group. the parents get together to support the students.”
This mother of two supports and has a passion for helping, not just for her own children, but all children. She’s a change agent in their lives, but one who’s a bit modest when asked about securing a grant for the Harriet.
if you don’t think her influence at the Harriet has changed lives, then you haven’t met 17-year-old Joshua Strong.
“It shows that there are some people who want to see us succeed in life, especially the African American community and being male in general you see people dying every day, especially our African American males, see them taken over by gangs, drugs,” the Whitehaven High junior said.
Because of Jones, he’s an aspiring dancer at the Harriet, actor, swimmer and entrepreneur.
“Ms. Crystelle helps us to stay forward and takes us off of the street and put us into something that’s going to better us,” Strong said.
Simply put, Jones makes people better. But what she does for children goes beyond the Harriet. Just ask her husband Chris Jones about his wife’s resume of service.
“Young Actor’s Guild, Office of Youth Services, Daughters of Douglass, Heal the Hood, Helping Others Obtain Dreams, majorette, cheerleading and just life in general,” he said.
He thinks his wife is pretty remarkable and nominated her in our contest.
“Students, they call her all day every day. It’s always a student calling. You don’t have a problem with it because that’s what she loves to do,” he said.
Jones loves children. She’s the Memphis Office of Youth Services coordinator and the developer for M-Ploy Youth, which builds relationships with businesses and places students for summer jobs
“Growing up in North Memphis, growing up in Douglass, just seeing there was a need. When you help somebody, it’s a joy for me to help somebody else,” she said.
WREG first met Jones earlier this year when her former classmate Taritta Smith, a Memphis mother, was shot several times in her car and left to die. Jones and other friends took action to support her daughter.
“After they told us I contacted our class. Our class got together and we started Cash App-ing her daughter. Her daughter is pregnant with a little girl and she had a grandson.”
Violence affecting young people is personal for Jones.
“This hits home. Every time I see, every time I see a child that’s been killed, a teenager that’s been shot, I wonder what can we do? How can we change things? What went wrong? Is that one student we could have helped?” she said.
Helping others is also a big part of her faith. She’s now following in the footsteps of her grandfather and is in theological school.
“My grandfather was a pastor and in the church they just taught us to love, to give and when you give you receive. So, I’ve been blessed just by helping and giving,” she said.
Crystelle Jones finds joy by helping and giving to positively transform an old fire house and more important young lives, making her a remarkable woman.
“I feel like everybody has something inside of them and sometimes you just need that one person to give you the opportunity and show that you can really do it.”