Since I’ve known Carolynn, she has married her soulmate, had two babies, expanded her current company, started a nonprofit, moved across the city twice…and we’ve only been friends for three years.
The business owner who does it all, the mom that makes it happen, a decorated hall-of-fame athlete- you would expect this 6’2”- foot tall woman to be the most fearless, most confident person in the room.
But the reality is that she has overcome the odds, persisted through pain, and is today, inspiring our future generation of leaders, athletes and stars to do the same through the Jones Family Foundation.
JT: Ok, give us the good stuff. Where do you get your level of energy and how can we get that too?
CSJ: I’m always tired! Well, I don’t sugarcoat, because I truly have a heart to give and help others with my story and lessons I learn in this beautiful journey of life. From a young age, I have been given a special “gift” to lift others through the work I do professionally and personally. This is what drives me. This and my 3 baby boys and my heart & soul – my husband, KJ.
Over the years, and since baby #3 (Micah), I have incorporated the following into my daily routines: At least 6-7 hours of sleep; clean eating (minimal carbs, processed food and sugars); cardio and weights (even if it’s just a quick 30-minute walk at 5:30 a.m. to listen to a podcast or my worship music before the boys wake up); and morning meditation and breath work. (My go-to guided app is Mindvalley.) It’s amazing what 15 minutes of guided meditation and gratitude will do for your life.
JT: Once upon a time there was a woman who was broken and whose wings were clipped. She was grounded and didn’t have the belief that she could fly ever again. What can you tell us about your past and how it shaped the mother and businesswoman you are today?
CSJ: (Tears) I spent many years in a very abusive relationship. It stripped me down to where I lost myself and did not know who I was. My life was full of “glitz and glam” on the outside, but in reality, it was a cold, hollow Hollywood stage set.
No one knew the abuse I was hiding for years, not even my friends and family. When I finally had the courage to leave everything and start over, I was forced to leave my home with only a few suitcases of personal items, negative funds in my bank, my former spouse’s mountain of debt, and a career in hospitality that I had to resign from.
I learned when you are in survival mode to rebuild a new life of peace, happiness and strength, there is nowhere to go but up. I dug deep, I prayed (a lot), I surrounded myself with a strong support system (my family, friends and church). I listened to self-help and inspirational podcast daily (Thank You, Tony Robbins and Joel Osteen!) and I got up every day and did the best I could that day.
I took each day one day at a time. I love the quote from the late legendary women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt, “Left foot, right foot, breathe, repeat.”
The year I left is when God spoke to me and gave me the vision of my current company, “Seven Marketing + PR,” which was birthed the year I was recovering and healing. I hit the ground running and finally found my passion in helping people through PR.
This year, I will celebrate 10 years in business and a life of peace, love and true happiness.
JT: Every December for the past four years, you change the lives of over 150 children as you fulfill their Christmas wish lists. Tell us more about this project and what inspired you to initially “adopt” these kids.
CSJ: My ministry is helping inner city youth through mentorship and year-round holiday events to give them hope and bring together our community of all colors and backgrounds. Every year we produce a Christmas Celebration at the Wilbert Davis Boys & Girls Club in Belmont Heights/Tampa.
I have been a mentor and served the Boys & Girls Clubs inner city youth for over eight years. My calling is to pour into the lives of as many underprivileged youths I can. I have seen year over year the success stories that come from even limited time spent in mentoring and giving back to kids in need. It gives them hope and shows them there are good people in the world that care—even if they are strangers.
For our Christmas event, the Club kids provide us with their wish list of gifts they most likely would not receive from home, and we put on a magical Winter Wonderland party the week before Christmas and let them all rip open their wish list gifts at the same time.
The room is full of loud screaming, laughs, jumping up and down, and a lot, a lot of tears. I am proud to now have our own 501 (C) (3), The Jones Family Foundation of Tampa Bay, so we can expand our giving and launch our high school mentorship program in 2022.
JT: As a mom of three boys, what have you learned about yourself that you wouldn’t have known without them. What is the one thing you want them to know when they read this article one day?
CSJ: Ethics. Hard work. Communication. Ministry.
I’ve learned how to (patiently) communicate and educate better than ever before. My parents always sat my sister, Amy, and I down and explained why people said things they would say or why people did certain things, especially in hurtful and unethical situations. These are important lessons I have carried over to my parenting.
Most boys and men by nature are a lot more aggressive and less emotional than women. But I always instill into my boys the balance of tenderness, love, kindness, affection and so much more. I want my boys to understand that it’s okay to show affection and that REAL men think of others and are willing to understand those around them and help them when people are in need.
JT: What is your favorite way to spend the weekend with your family in Tampa Bay?
CSJ: We are usually on a hot baseball field, football field, basketball court or watching one of our favorite Champa Bay teams compete. When it’s mom’s choice, I love going to the Tampa Riverwalk and spending the weekend at the Don CeSar on St. Pete Beach.
Cover photo by Sarah Hoag Photography.
Originally published in the December 2021 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.