MAKE NO MISTAKE about it, says M. Alexander Jones, "I'm not retiring from something, I'm retiring to something." A writing career, an education campaign about the danger of prostate cancer, a possible master's degree from Towson State University.
As head of the Carroll County Department of Social Services for the past eight years, Mr. Jones capped a 35-year career in social services that began when he traded a promise of service to New York state for tuition money that saw him through graduate school in Virginia. He came to Maryland in 1967 to work for the Department of Human Resources, later taking the Carroll County post.
Overseeing considerable changes in the unending task of helping Carroll's less fortunate citizens, with everything from food stamps to foster care, Mr. Jones was widely respected for his caring outlook as well as for the hard data and thick reports that he frequently produced to back up his judgments about what would work best. You didn't get mushy, evasive socio-babble from Alexander Jones, but reasoned and organized ideas.
Child-support was an area in which his department made significant strides during his tenure. The collections effort is his particular source of pride, with its success in tenaciously tracking down parents all over the country who owe support payments. The bottom line for Mr. Jones was not good police work but the recovery of funds that the county would otherwise have to spend on services for these dependent children.
Similarly, the department is initiating a program to help parents with child-support obligations to get their high school diplomas, making them more employable for the benefit of themselves and their children. Sick-child day care for parents who are beginning jobs is another new initiative with such a dual aim.
But the past is prologue, and Mr. Jones is eager to embrace the future with a zest for public service that is far from retirement. He is finishing a book about prostate cancer which struck him three years ago, hoping to alert more men to have the important blood test that can detect the cancer's earliest stages.
"I wanted to make a difference," Mr. Jones says. He has, and he will.
Pub Date: 2/10/97