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Columbus woman helps those battling homelessness, substance abuse and mental illness

56- year-old Joi Jones, now a successful business owner, openly admits her life hasn't always been easy. She's a victim of domestic violence who also battled substance abuse.

“The things that I really wish that I could have had, the love or attention, or the help that I could have had that I did not receive, I wanted to give that back to the community," said Jones.

Jones giving back started seven years ago at a two-story brick house on Columbus' eastside. Several ladies now call it home, and a safe place to heal and grow.

We stopped by Jones’ house and talked to the ladies as they carried out their very structured routine. The women were making dinner- buffalo style chicken grilled cheese, pasta and a big salad.

"She loves salad. It's her thing," said Ashley Ring, who has already moved into phase two of her recovery program. She is now allowed to have four hours of unstructured time outside the home.

All the ladies who live here have made the commitment to break an addiction, improve their mental health, get a job and eventually their own apartment. Ring credits Jones and the stability the house provides for helping get her on track.

“I had nowhere to go. Where I came from isn't a stable environment for me to go back to. I might do good for a couple weeks, but I'm not gonna succeed. I'm at 86 days today. And a lot of those days I'm very thankful to Miss Joi and this place. I'm not gonna say I haven't had anxiety and thought, 'Screw it, it's not worth it'. But I haven't done that,“ she said.

Jones got some help in running the house from an unlikely source, Brenda Porter, who came for help and is now the House Manager.

“Joi has been a motivating force in my life. And I know that she pours a lot of love into these ladies. It just bounces off of her onto others. Something about her is very magnetic. And I'm just grateful to God, because like I said, I was homeless. I suffer from mental health issues. And I bounced back from my setback,“ said Porter.

The house is full of stories like Brenda's. Every woman talks about how their lives have been changed because of their new start in Joi's house. But Joi, whose life mission is to help others, needs help to keep her houses open. All the money it costs to keep the doors open, lights on and food in the fridge all come out of Joi's pocket.

“I have never had a grant, never had a loan, none of that. I always have multiple businesses. I would take one business to feed the other one, if that was necessary. And most of the time it has been necessary because as the need grew for more space, I needed to have more people,“ said Jones, who herself is celebrating 27 years of sobriety.

Jones just hopes someone will step up and help her continue the work that has helped so many.

You can donate to Jones' GoFundMe here.

Williams was a reporter for WOSU. Natasha is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and has more than 20 years of television news and radio experience.