I arrive every morning at 7:30am. In truth, I am filled with anticipation and hope… hope that I might help soothe the stress and anxiety of JUMP clients who started lining up long before my arrival.
As I approach the building and greet everyone I immediately sense the anxiety and stress begin to dissipate from the crowd. I purposefully take my time, making sure I look each of the waiting clients in the eye as I deliver a nod of acknowledgement
and respect which ever so soothingly whispers, “I see you, I see you, I see you…”
Lately, my walk through the waiting crowd has been downright neighborly! Walking through the crowd I ask questions like “How are you doing?” ”How is your mother…is she better?” “Gordon is that you? It’s been awhile! Oh my goodness, what happened? You’ve lost your leg, that’s why we’ve not seen you! How did that happen?” I generally end by saying something to the group like “I’ll be back down at 8:30am to let everyone in to sign up.” When I do return, I ask “Is everybody clear about your order in line?”
Once everyone is signed in, the real sense of community and hospitably begin over a cup of coffee, a healthy snack and meaningful dialogue. These conversations take place among extended family which include; clients, volunteers and staff, each and all contributing to one thing…a sense of community and belonging. The JUMP community is a kindred one, much like any family which at its best is a source of pride, strength and caring; JUMP is a place where those present can open their hearts to provide thoughtfulness, comfort and understanding to each other.
Last year, 2233 families visited JUMP in search of essential needs. JUMP has become visionary in its capability to deal with present circumstances and see what can be. Clients, staff and volunteers awaken day after day to deal what is: the unspeakable reality of some among us who are not able to afford food, rent, child care, medical care or transportation to work. The extended family at JUMP helps clients maintain a strong sense of community to safeguard against the harsh realities of poverty.
As an illustration of this fact, on one recent morning, after signing everyone in, I asked one client if he still lived on lower Church Street. He replied that he did not. This client had several physical disabilities including difficulty standing as well as continuous tremors in both limbs; he seemed to be only one step away from permanently needing a wheel chair. I felt he was a perfect fit for our Home Bound Program. When asked for his new address he admitted that it was now the “Battery Park Band Stand”. Astonished, I acknowledged what a shame it was that a man in such poor health had to sleep on cement outside, on a stage for the world to see. However, he further shared that he had been recently approved for Section 8 housing and might have his own apartment next month. Obviously his JUMP extended family remains hopeful that he is successful at getting housing before the winter weather arrives.
As an end to my story I want to let you know that Gordon returned to JUMP a few months later. When I saw him I said “Gordon I did not recognize you standing up…you have a new leg! You’ve always been in the wheel chair! Oh my goodness, I am so happy for you!” I realized as he stood there beaming with happiness that Gordon did not come to JUMP that day to receive assistance. Instead, he stopped by to share the good news with his JUMP extended family, to have someone to talk to and to celebrate “what can be”.
Thank you for your continuous support…because together we can make a difference!
...Wanda Hines; Director