Mr. Jones’ office was located in a community center called the Hill City Youth Municipality, which was frequented by some members of his target audience.
They came there to play games, chase and be chased by girls, and otherwise occupy themselves. Mr. Jones began his recruitment effort at Hill City and convinced a few young men to join the Explorer Post. At 6’4″ tall, weighing 250 pounds, Mr. Jones was an imposing figure and it was hard to tell him no. Using the Hill City group as a core, he asked them to tell their friends about the Post and assist in recruiting others.
After several weeks, the post had grown to 7 members and Mr. Jones began to mold them. In organizing the Post, he required them to elect officers and conduct their meetings according to Robert’s Rules of Order. He talked to them about the importance of doing well in school, stressed the importance of working for what they wanted, explained that fathering a child was not a true test of manhood, and demanded that they take pride in everything they did. When he felt that he had completed the indoctrination phase of his program, Mr. Jones moved into phase two, the challenge.
With the help of a friend, he was able to arrange for the group to visit the Moore Family farm in Brandywine, MD, just south of Washington, DC. During the trip, the group would also be able to visit their Congressman, the Honorable William S. Moorehead. Mr. Jones brought this news to his scouts and they were ecstatic until he told them about the strings attached to his offer. They could only make the trip if they agreed to be on their best behavior before and after the trip; earned money to buy Explorer Post #48 Blazers for each member, and earned the money to pay for the round trip bus fare from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC. The only ground rule was that each member had to raise the money by doing honest work.
You have to have lived in a Black ghetto to understand what Mr. Jones had just done. By issuing what amounted to a challenge to these would-be tough guys, he knew they would have to try if only to save face. He believed they had what it would take to succeed, but he also knew that they faced a tough challenge, because jobs were not easily obtained in the “Hill”. Mr. Jones’ belief was justified as the youths took his challenge and demonstrated their resourcefulness. One of the scouts went into business selling “ice balls”(shaved ice topped with fruit flavored syrup). It was almost beyond belief to see this particularly tough, “go for bad” individual pushing a cart up and down the street and shouting, “Ice balls, come and get your ice balls here”.
Another of the scouts went into the rags and junk business. He would go from door to door with his wagon asking for old rags and junk to take to the junkyard. The pay was poor, but the work was honest and he persevered. Still other scouts got jobs in local stores, while others did odd jobs in the neighborhood for anyone willing to help them in their quest for funds.
Mr. Jones was proud of the initiative his scouts exhibited, but realized that he had given them perhaps too tough a challenge. He also knew that with some cooperation from the families the program could still be effective. Although most of the group tried to be tough, they all respected their Mothers and he capitalized on that. He invited the Mothers to come to Hill City to see their sons in action. He then asked the mothers to help the Post by forming a support group; thus the Explorer Scout Post #48 Mother’s Support Group (known as the Explorer Mothers) was formed.
Shortly after the Explorer Mothers group was formed, Mr. Jones went to them for help. He shared with them his challenge to the scouts and asked for their ideas for additional fund raising ideas. The Explorer Mothers were understandably eager to help and they adopted the idea of cooking meals for the scouts to sell on the weekends. For the next several months, the scouts and their Mothers worked together in a business venture that captured the imagination of the community.
During the week, the scouts would solicit orders for chicken or fish dinners for delivery on Saturday. On the weekend, their Mothers would cook the meals and the scouts would deliver them. The money raised from these dinners supplemented the funds earned by the scouts in the ice ball, junk, neighborhood stores, and odd jobs businesses, and resulted in full funding of the blazers and round trip bus fares for the entire post.
The successful response to Mr. Jones’ challenge was graphically demonstrated in the when the entire post, Mr. Jones, and members of the Moore family, met with Congressman William S. Moorehead on the steps of the United States Capitol!
The trip to the Moore family farm and Washington, DC was a significant event in the lives of all the scouts. They enjoyed themselves so much, they asked Mr. Jones if they could go again the next year. Mr. Jones agreed, but with the same strings attached. He didn’t have to worry at all this time; the team was in place, they earned their money and went again.
Lest we lose sight of the big picture, let me assure you that there was much more to Explorer Scout Post #48, than a 6’4″-250 lb giant of a man taking a group of scouts to a farm in Maryland and to meet their Congressman in Washington, DC. Mr. Jones interceded in the lives of these youth at a critical juncture. He invested in them the time, energy, concern, and love that was destined to pay dividends in the future. As these young men graduated from high school, some went on to college, some entered the service, and others went to work in Pittsburgh and other locations.