The Jones Family Respite Fund
This is the story of a modest family who spent their lives looking after a beloved daughter, and
the legacy they leave behind.
Donna Miriam Jones was born in 1955 to Dorothy and Morris Jones, who lived in a tiny cottage
on Cranberry Lake in the Haliburton Highlands. Morris was a mill worker, Dorothy was a
homemaker, and Donna was their first and only child.
But something unexpected happened. Donna was born with trisomy 21, Down syndrome, and
Dorothy and Morris struggled to give her the best possible life in a time when services and
opportunities for people with these challenges were not readily available.
Donna couldn’t read or write and her verbal skills were limited, but she was cheerful, charming,
and always ready with a smile, a chuckle, and a big wet kiss! She cherished a large photo
album of all her friends and loved ones, and an extensive collection of vinyl records that she
listened to for hours every day on her beloved record player. She also had a family, immediate
and extended, that loved her dearly.
Life was not easy for the Jones family. Wages for mill workers were meager, so Morris planted
a big vegetable garden and hunted every year to fill the freezer with moose and venison.
Dorothy made everything from scratch and kept their home happy and comfortable while
saving every penny she could so that they could move out of their cramped cottage into a real
Eventually, Morris built them a little house himself, and for a few years there was even a shed
with chickens and a shetland pony to care for, out beside the garden. They lived a quiet life of
work, church, and euchre parties with friends and family.
Nothing remarkable, really.
In time, Morris passed away, and Dorothy and Donna continued to live together on the shores
of Cranberry Lake. Friends and family helped out, and government support services began to
play a larger role when they needed more care. Dorothy was always so grateful for the help of
the community, and maybe even a little embarrassed by it, as often happens to people who
have spent their lives caring for others.
Dorothy died in 2011 at the age of 92. Donna passed away in 2015 just a few days shy of her
The Jones Family Respite Fund exists today because Dorothy wanted any money left in their
estate after Donna’s passing to support other families facing the same challenges that they did.
She and Morris would have been astonished to know that the sale of their little home on
Cranberry Lake would be the foundation of something as necessary and worthwhile as this
The Jones Family Respite Fund is established in their memory as a testament to their life of
love, devotion, and hard work.
Quite remarkable, really.
May it serve others well.