Stories of us: Altamont | Beecher City | Dieterich | Effingham | St. Anthony | Teutopolis
Reese Jones St. Anthony High School
For Reese Jones, it’s always been about solving a problem or filling a need. Hers is a farming family and when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, a number of traditional market channels to the big buyers like Tyson and others slowed or came to a complete stop for the family. Reese witnessed the familiar initiative, gumption, and good old-fashioned hard work her mentor had been known for. Reese had seen it for years, since she was small, actually, because her mentor was also her mother.
In a difficult market, smart business people find a way, and her mother’s solution to the COVID marketing challenges was to take a page from her experience as a food truck owner-operator and she began offering what she calls ‘gate-to-plate’ fare to the local market, including custom cuts of pork and beef. Reese has a front-row seat to this kind of problem-solving and more. She’s also fortunate that her school offers an opportunity to participate in CEO, a public-private partnership in Effingham County Schools aimed at helping students learn about business and create entrepreneurial opportunities of their own. She doesn’t think much about it, and she’d never say it defines her, but she’s been marinating in problem-solving for most of her life.
As part of Reese’s involvement with CEO, she’s launched her own food truck specializing in her favorite beverage — coffee. She calls her enterprise Belle Vie. The Italian phrase means ‘beautiful way,’ but Reese just loved the way it rolls off the tongue. As it turns out, it has been a beautiful way for her to stretch her own entrepreneurial legs and to serve others, a thing of great importance to Reese. “Why just work for money and not find a way to help people through that work?” she wonders aloud, as she relates to me a story of one of her mother’s ventures that helped fund much needed support for disadvantaged children in the community.
This fall, Reese is taking her big heart and creative mind to Lake Land College, where she’ll study business, but plans to attend either Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal or Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville afterward. She intends to major in marketing. Her life as a daughter of rural America has prepared her well for the work she hopes to do. She has learned the value of hard work, the importance of friends and faith, and the meaning of community. Reese has had her share of adversity, but with each struggle she’s overcome and every obstacle she’s put in her rearview mirror, she has become stronger. And with the support of her friends, family, fellow entrepreneurs, and those who’ve encouraged her throughout high school, Reese’s world is hers to create