We meet every Tuesday and Friday at 5.30pm in the Lower Level of the SMC Campus Center. The SMC Campus Center is located between the HS/HSL library and the School of Nursing.
Volunteering with Project Jump Start (PJS) is an educational experience because it will open your eyes to the needs of the individuals we will eventually serve as health and human service professionals. Food drives have typically been the jumping in point for new volunteers. How involved you get after that is up to you. Some people are routine helpers, others come on Tuesdays and/or Fridays whenever they can. The food drive is an easy way to get involved, and also a good place to meet similar-minded people.
What to Know Before Your First Food Drive
- We take hygiene very seriously. The last thing we want is to make one of our friends and clients sick. Everyone volunteering must wash their hands before they start helping with the assembly. For those who are making sandwiches, we require that you wash your hands properly and that you wear gloves. If you touch something not food related with your hands or gloves, you should wash your hands again. When in doubt, wash your hands. This may seem burdensome, but we do the best for our clients. "Hand washing is the single most effective way to avoid the spread of germs."
- Unlike many charitable organizations we go directly to the clients. Many of the people we deal with do not access the shelter system or other programs. Often we are coming into the areas where people sleep. We ask that you respect their home as you respect your home.
- Volunteers may be apprehensive the first time they go out on the streets with us. That is ok, and natural. You can observe and take it in the first couple times. Eventually, we like our volunteers to get to know the clients. Remember, the sandwiches, toiletries, and clothing we are bringing out to people are just the currency we use for "encounters." Many of our clients value the conversation as much as the items we offer. Shake hands, look people in the eyes, and try to remember some of their names for your next visit.
- Above providing outreach to our homeless neighbors, we also try to provide advocacy and referral services. We may help them discover programs they are eligible for, and we are often able to successfully refer them to programs. A little advocacy from a student can actually go a long way. So don't be afraid to go the extra mile for someone. When you're talking to a client, take mental notes on the challenges they're facing. Discuss these with the group later, or do some research on your own. You'd be amazed at how much you can offer!
- Safety of our volunteers is paramount. We have not had any incidents with our volunteers during food drives, but we remain vigilant. We ask that you stay aware. Do not walk off alone. If you feel uncomfortable bring it to another volunteer's attention. Our clients know us, but you can not be too careful.
- Project Jump Start is a relatively new program. We have had some remarkable successes so far and have even helped clients move from the streets into permanent housing. That is a remarkable thing to see and it proves that students can have a significant impact. PJS is, and will be, student-run. We always need fresh ideas and new initiatives. What's more, we need the energy and enthusiasm that students such as you bring. So please take on PJS as your own and have fun!
- The continued success of PJS requires money coming into the program. We welcome you to help with fundraising activity. In the past we have held benefit concerts at Westminster Hall and fundraising parties at Pickles Pub. If you have new ideas or want to help with these activities please let us know.