The Joint Urban Ministry Project celebrates its 30th anniversary on Saturday, Dec. 1, 5:30-8:30 p.m., in Burlington. Founded in 1988, JUMP is an interfaith organization supported by 28 area congregations, including South Burlington’s Ascension Lutheran Church on Allen Road and Faith United Methodist Church on Dorset Street.
For three decades, JUMP has assisted Chittenden County families living in poverty. Last year, the organization distributed over 5,500 vouchers valued at nearly $100,000. Although these vouchers help with a variety of daily needs such as food, clothing, personal hygiene items, cleaning supplies, utilities, and health care costs, the most requested voucher is for help at the gas pump.
“Transportation remains a primary barrier for JUMP families,” said Wanda Hines, JUMP director. “Forty-five percent of families and individuals served [by JUMP] request help with transportation gas needs. I can attest JUMP’s greatest unrecognized contribution over the last 30 years has been providing transportation gas assistance to help people, the economically disadvantaged, get to where they need to be.”
The organization notes that access to dependable transportation helps their clients maintain jobs, raising their household income, improving quality of life, and creating economic independence.
JUMP operates a drop-in center in downtown Burlington at the First Congregational Church on a first-come/first-serve basis. Approximately 55 volunteers join staff to provide vouchers. In addition, their Homebound Program delivers voucher assistance to eligible seniors and disabled adults.
William Eddy of South Burlington has been a JUMP volunteer for eight years.
“JUMP’s 30th anniversary reminds me of the needs in our community, said Eddy, the JUMP Coordinator for Faith United. “All too often, they are hidden and thus go unmet. What may seem like a small outreach on JUMP’s part can go a long way to helping their clients.”
Noting FUMC’s donation earlier this year toward purchasing gas cards for JUMP clients, Hines says the church “makes a difference in the lives of working poor families and neighbors in need,” adding, “We are truly grateful.”
Ascension Lutheran Church also contributes to JUMPS’s gas card program. Earlier this year, the congregation sponsored 50 percent of all JUMP’s transportation assistance for a month, including gas cards, bus fares, and bikes. Their efforts were honored by being named JUMP’s “Transportation Angel” for this past September.
Beth Dreibelbis serves as Ascension’s coordinator for JUMP and is also on the organization’s board of directors. She shared, “One way Ascension Lutheran lives its beliefs is by supporting JUMP and its mission. Transportation is vital for everyone.”
Both churches aid in other ways as well, offering a myriad of items from food and household goods to monetary donations. In addition, congregants volunteer and participate in JUMP fundraisers.
“JUMP has journeyed a long way with the strong embrace of the 28 area faith communities and untiring volunteers… the real back bone,” Hines said.
“I am reminded of the parable of the Good Samaritan,” Eddy said, “Who is my neighbor? My neighbor is anyone; and, for JUMP, it is anyone with a spiritual or material need.”
JUMP’s 30th Anniversary Celebration, “Focused on the Future,” with special guests, dinner, music, and presentation of awards, will be held 5:30-8:30 p.m., at the Elks Lodge, 925 North Ave., Burlington. For tickets and more information: contact Beth Dreibelbis at email@example.com, 802-899-4557, or visit www.jumpvt.org.