It’s Black History Month and JET 24/FOX 66 is celebrating local leaders who are making a difference.

The CEO of a social services organization, Danny Jones, has strong roots in the Erie community.

“This is my home. I was born and raised in Erie, went to Burns School, Gridley, Strong Vincent — the whole nine,” said Danny Jones, CEO, Greater Erie Community Action Committee (GECAC).

Danny Jones is now the CEO of GECAC, a social services organization that helps thousands of Erie residents. Jones said growing up, he was influenced by the civil rights movement.

“There was a lot of positive motivation in trying to uplift people of color to go to college, get your degree, come back to the community, and bring back some good stuff into the community. So that’s kind of the attitude that I had,” Jones added.

Jones went to the University of Pittsburgh, and said despite the fact that things weren’t always easy financially, he persevered, sleeping at friends’ apartments when he didn’t have his own. He graduated and eventually moved back to Erie, determined to make a difference.

Then, Jones said he found an opportunity with the Erie School District.

“They opened up this new program working with homeless students, so I went to work with them. I found that very, very rewarding, and they were some of the nicest kids I ever met in my life,” said Jones.

For 24 years, Jones worked in the Erie School District in several different capacities. Then, for the last six years, Jones has continued to help individuals in Erie at GECAC.

“Our money works for you. Programs are getting geared back up, our GED program is up and running, we’re the only testing site in Erie County for the GED program. So our whole goal is to help families to move towards self-sustainability,” Jones added.

The organization’s vice president of operations said the people they serve trust Jones.

“They know that there’s a leader here from our community and has a vested interest. It’s not somebody that just came in for a year or two and is going to do a couple of things and then leave again, he’s somebody who’s here and cares about them.” said Georgia del Freo, vice president of operations.