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Doug Jones is sharing his clovers with others to spread the faith, hope, love and luck that the four leaves represent.
Based on the odds of finding a four leaf clover being 1 in 10,000, Doug Jones must be the world’s luckiest man. Since he started collecting clovers over 30 years ago, Jones has accumulated more than 5,000. The clovers are especially symbolic to Jones as finding them has always raised his spirits up from the deepest of lows. Now through his self-started business of 4 Leaf 4 Hope, Jones is sharing his clovers with others to spread the faith, hope, love and luck that the four leaves represent.
A day does not go by and hardly a step taken outside where Jones isn’t searching for a four, a five, six, seven or an eight leaf clover. “Wherever there’s grass I’m always looking. Sometimes I lose the pack that I’m with,” Jones laughed.
With so many clovers and knowing how much recipients appreciate them, Jones formed 4 Leaf 4 Hope, allowing people to select up to four dates for clovers to be found on, and then mailed. The dating process has always meant a lot to Jones, setting him apart from competitors. He hopes others will be compelled to give clovers to friends and family on dates that are important to them.
Jones wanted 4 Leaf 4 Hope to also serve the purpose of supporting a cause, and one was found in the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI has been instrumental in the betterment of Jones’ life. In 1996, at 25 years old, Jones was diagnosed as being bipolar after being persuaded by his wife, Joan, to be examined. The diagnoses gave clarity to the extreme emotional highs and lows that Jones would experience. Since Jones started attending group sessions through NAMI, he’s become much more comfortable with his condition from meeting with other people who are bipolar.
A portion of all proceeds from the clover sales will go towards NAMI. “When we found NAMI, the clouds opened and a light shined down, as we knew where to make the donation. Everything was now complete,” said Jones.
All the programs through NAMI are free, which reach out to not only the victims of mental illness but support groups are also offered to their family, loved ones and other caregivers. NAMI has made a substantial impact on Jones’s life and he’s anxious for the opportunity to assist others in receiving the much needed help. “I can honestly say that NAMI has saved my life,” he said. “When I thought I could deal with it on my own, I’d slip. My eyes were opened wide by the support from the group. It inspired me to know that everything is going to be alright and gives me hope that there is a future.”
The director of NAMI for Montgomery County is Michelle Maloy-Kidder, who hopes that Jones can serve as a positive role models to others. “The goal is to end the stigma about mental illness. It takes people like Doug to stand up and say I have a mental illness but can still have a productive and successful life,” she said.
With his wife, Joan, Jones owns Studio Fitness, located in Vandalia, which was the premier spot in the Dayton area to teach Zumba. The Studio now teaches a variety of different exercise classes and fitness has proven to be helpful in controlling Jones mood.
When not at the Studio, the majority of Jones’ time is spent on the clovers, as he can usually find at least 60 of them a day. In the evenings, especially during the winter months, Jones individually laminates each clover, along with the help of his family. “I tell him that I only have one hour. I have to set boundaries as I have other things to do,” said Joan.
After first meeting Joan, and her three children, Jones was eager to share his passion for clover hunting with them. “We would play the ‘fishing game.’ Whoever finds the first, the biggest and the most four leaf clovers win. There was nothing to win but bragging rights, but having three categories to win in just made it a little more fun,” said Jones.
In Jones’ totally natural backyard, there are some patches where a significant amount of clovers grow, which he keeps marked. For Jones, mowing the lawn can become a time consuming ordeal. If there’s a patch where he knows some are that he hasn’t picked yet, he’ll mow around the area until later. “I only give myself fifteen minutes to search before cutting the rest of the yard, otherwise I’d be out there for hours,” he said.
The thrill from finding a clover has never diminished for Jones, and he still always feels the presence of his departed father with him while searching. Through the clovers, Jones is pleased with the opportunity to spread love, luck, faith and hope all across the world. “We all need a little hope, especially those with mental illness,” said Jones.
To learn more about 4 Leaf 4 Hope and to join the Clover Club in order to receive some clovers and support NAMI, go here.
Mike Woody is a life long resident of Dayton, and has a passion for writing, which is good because he doesn't excel at much of anything else, except eating.