Tina Jones: 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient for Community Service
The recipients of the 2018 University of Manitoba Distinguished Alumni Awards are graduates who are outstanding in their professional and personal lives. These honourees encompass a wide range of achievement, innovation and community service and inspire fellow alumni, current students and the community.
Philanthropist Tina Jones [BEd/89], of Banville & Jones Wine, is gifted with the ability to not only see—but bring to life—a better future for Manitobans. Her visionary spirit and business-savvy have driven fundraising efforts in all areas of our community, leading to improvements in health care and innovative, internationally-accredited educational programming.
In her own words…
When my dad left Italy at 18, he said he was never going to be poor again. He didn’t really have an education, he only went to grade 6, so he had to do it the hard way – working 18 to 20-hour days.
Growing up, I was really independent and forward thinking. Very driven, very competitive. As soon as I could work, I got a job at Burger King in Brandon. I cooked and was a front-line service person. I taught myself how to drive the very day I could get my license.
I was always the helper in our family. I did the grocery shopping, the cleaning, I kept track of the family budget. Because my parents split up I was the helper for my mom. I was really close to her.
(On attending university) It was my dad’s dream. He was very envious and fond of people who had post-secondary degrees.
I was super ready to move from Brandon to Winnipeg and experience university. I just bought a mattress and shared a house on Chancellor with people I knew. I was 18, had a little beater car, and the world by the tail. It was really exciting.
I started out in Environmental Studies; I wanted to be an architect. But I didn’t like all the free-hand-drawing part. I was really into the technical stuff.
It was a really challenging, grueling first year. I was at school from 8 in the morning to 10 at night and all my friends weren’t so I was envious of them, like ‘what do you mean you have only one class Tuesdays and Thursdays?!’
I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I switched and went into Education. That seemed like a general degree that could be a stepping stone to a Master’s.
I’m really glad I was accepted into ES because it gave me a very different perspective on what school is. When you have to work really hard in university it transfers over to the rest of your life.
When the government was opening another round of private wine stores, my dad said to me and my sister, “I think you should do it. And by the way, I’m not giving you any money, you can mortgage your houses.” So that’s what we did. Out of 145 applicants, we got one of four stores.
When I latch onto something I’m 100 per cent in. I don’t do anything in half measures.
Wine is about memories. Having a glass of wine with friends is about developing memories, developing friendships, developing relationships. It is about where you are and who you’re with. And the experience.
If I were a wine, I’d be champagne. Effervescent and bubbly.
My family is my first priority, then my businesses. You have to make a lot of sacrifices to have great businesses and great children.
Spare time, those words don’t really exist in my dictionary.
I really don’t mind going out on a limb. There are a lot of sleepless nights with that kind of mentality but I am very enterprising that way.
I’ve raised 10 million dollars for the Health Sciences Centre. You can see right away the difference your involvement makes. There is so much need in our community.
Every little bit of effort and energy that you put into these charities changes peoples’ lives. It’s a real thing. Try and do as much as you can when you’re healthy.
I generally want to help. I’m wired that way. I want to help people and I want to help others. I have a genuine love for seeing others succeed and be better.
Failure isn’t an option for me. That might sound kind of arrogant but I push myself really hard. Could I be better than I am now? For sure. Could I have done more? For sure. But I feel I’m in a place where I have a lot of balance. So it’s great.