Volunteers from South Burlington are playing key roles in supporting the mission of JUMP, the Joint Urban Ministry Project located in Burlington. In 2013, more than 120 South Burlington families received key assistance from JUMP and that number is expected to increase this year. In 2013, nearly 1,700 Vermont households received help in more than 2,800 visits to the JUMP Drop-In Center. More than $117,000 in vouchers for food, laundromat use, transportation and utilities as well as approximately $71,000 worth of food, toiletries, diapers and household cleaning supplies were distributed to help families with challenging financial circumstances to maintain a better quality of life.
According to Director Wanda Hines, JUMP has been responding to the challenge of effectively assisting low-income families and individuals throughout Chittenden County for 26 years. The organization was founded by five Burlington faith communities in 1988 to address the then growing epidemic of poverty. Support for JUMP has grown to include broad interfaith support from many area faith communities and key funding has come from hundreds of individuals and community groups, as well as vital sponsorship and dollars from both businesses and foundations.
JUMP’s mission involves four core values: respect for the value and dignity of every person, honoring the faith journey of all clients, volunteers, and staff, collaboration, and advocacy. These values are kept at the forefront, especially, throughout the operation of the drop-in center, located in donated space at the First Congregational Church of Burlington at 38 South Winooski Avenue in Burlington, which is open weekday mornings.
South Burlington residents who currently volunteer with JUMP include Deanna Anderson, Barbara Stearns, Linda Gross, Joan Mathews, Rita Bortz, Suzie Crews, Lucy Samara, Carol Lutz, Florence McCloud, Bill Eddy and Ann Owen. In addition, SBHS junior, Molly Burke, volunteered for JUMP in the summer. The South Burlington faith communities of Faith United Methodist Church, Ascension Lutheran and All Saints Episcopal Church, along with more than two dozen area faith communities, support JUMP with volunteers, financial resources and donated items (toiletries, diapers, food, etc.).
Hines said, “JUMP’s staff and volunteer team provide hospitality (food, conversation, books for children, etc.), much needed practical resources, and informed referrals in an atmosphere that is respectful and caring.” Financial assistance with basic needs through vouchers at local businesses that can be used for food, gasoline, bus passes, laundromat use, utility payments, and medication are also available.
In September, South Burlington residents Suzie Crews, Bob Crews, Debbie LaRosa, Lucy Samara, Gretchen Gaida Michaels, Megan Wade, John Reuwer and Nikki St. Mary were supported by many generous donors as they participated in the organization’s annual “Run (or Walk!) for JUMP.” To date, the event, led by JUMP Run/Walk Committee Chair Suzie Crews, has raised more than $15,900 in support of direct services provided through the JUMP Drop-In Center.
The next major event hosted by JUMP will be “The Best Community Supper Ever” on Saturday, November 1, at the First United Methodist Church of Burlington. Hines said, “The dinner includes an amazing smorgasbord laden with specialties donated by cooks from many area faith communities including: chicken pie, biscuits, salads, lasagna, sauerkraut, vegetarian dishes, mashed potatoes, baklava and fruit pies!” Tickets are $10 dollars for adults and $5 for children 6 to 12 years old. There are two seatings at 5 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the door or in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Valerie at 802.497.1661.
JUMP will also be participating in an alternative holiday giving program during November and December. Beautiful printed note cards and alternative giving cards designed by a local artist will be sold in many area faith communities and during a special holiday alternative giving event called Gifts that Give at Contois Auditorium in Burlington City Hall on Sunday December 7 from 11a.m. to 3 p.m.
Want to get involved? Volunteers are needed to assist with special events, to coordinate food and toiletry drives, and for committee and direct service work in the drop-in center. Donations are always needed as JUMP relies on community support to assist more than 45 households each week. People can learn more about JUMP through the website: www.jumpvt.org, or by emailing Director Wanda Hines at: email@example.com.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent