For as long as she can remember, Margaret-Ann Jones has found ways to be helpful. Growing up the daughter of a Pentecostal pastor, Jones recalls giving to others from an early age. “Our home was always open to whoever,” she says.
Jones, who moved to Portland from California in the mid-’80s, has molded her career and her life around the idea of open doors—as a nurse’s aide, a psychiatric technician, and in foster care. But outside of work, she’s constantly creating connections and raising awareness. In the early 2000s, she started the support group Women of All Color (WOAC) to help women of every ethnicity feel heard and understood. She sits on the planning committee for the Portland Womxn’s March; organizes events for the Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest (GLAPN); and is currently trying to form a chapter of ZAMI NOBLA, the National Organization for Black Lesbians on Aging, here in Portland. “I wanted to find people like me,” she says, “find out how they live.”
At 71, Jones doesn’t foresee a future where she slows down. “This is what feeds me. It lifts my spirits healing others,” she says. “One of my philosophies is the more you give away or the more you do, the more comes back to you.”
Robin Will, president of GLAPN, recalls the ease at which Jones connects with others: “[She has] enormous personal warmth, always helping somebody make some connections or get some perspective.” Will says Jones has been a welcome advocate for people of color. “She is always looking out for people of color and bringing that voice in if she feels like we’re overlooking it.”