Miss Jones, Former Smith Hill Librarian
Mary, who was affectionately known to everyone, even her own children, as "Miss Jones", worked at Smith Hill Library for 40 years. She worked tirelessly to help poor residents of Providence obtain better housing, access affordable health care and health education. Miss Jones played a key role in improving the schools in the Smith Hill area and worked with other community leaders to find creative ways to support teachers and create more jobs for residents.
As a librarian, Miss Jones developed many programs promoting cultural awareness, education, health issues and advancement for marginalized groups and people of color. When faced with funding cuts, Miss Jones fought diligently alongside dozens of other library staff and patrons to keep all the libraries open. Two of the programs she introduced, the "Keep Our Families Warm Campaign," providing residents with seasonal winter clothing, and the Children's Christmas Party, with free toys, food and fun, still take place every year at Smith Hill Library.
Miss Jones served on the board of the Neighborhood Health Center for over 35 years, was a founder of the Smith Hill Community Development Corporation and a co-founder of CHIC, which worked with landlords and tenants to fix up buildings. She worked with a host of state and local politicans, including Claiborne Pell, Jack Reed, John Pastore, Rhoda Perry and Maryellen Goodwin. She worked with both of the Chafees as well as city mayors Joe Doorley, Buddy Cianci, Joe Paolino, John Lombardi and David Cicilline plus all Ward 12 councilmen from the late 1960s to the present member, Councilman Terry Hassett.
Miss Jones' lifetime achievements have been previously recognized through the Jefferson Award and a place on the Providence College Wall of Fame. Sadly, she now suffers from Alzheimer's Disease and lives in a nursing home but the fruits of her work continue to grow and flourish in Providence. Miss Jones' daughter, Althea Graves, continues her mother's legacy of community work in Smith Hill and serves on the Board of Providence Community Library.
RILA Bulletin Vol. 90. NO.1 (JAN 2018)
(posting with permission from the RILA President)