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"Project Jump Start"

Message from our Founders
Drs Dan Andersen & Julie Della-Maria
Welcome to Project Jump Start

For those of you who have never joined us for our activities before, you are in for a treat!  Volunteering with Project Jump Start (PJS) is very educational because it will open your eyes to the needs of the individuals we will eventually serve as health and human services 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 when they can.  The food drive is an easy way to get involved, and also a good place to meet similary-minded people.

We meet every Tuesday and Friday at 5.30pm in the SMC Campus Center (621 W. Lombard St.).  The Campus Center is located between the HSHSL library and the School of Nursing.  We have never missed a scheduled food drive since PJS's inception in October 2005.  We began with a single food drive on Friday nights, but have expanded to two nights in the last year.  With your help, PJS food drives may occur every night of the week in the future, since homelessness does not rest.

The continued success of PJS requires money coming into the program.  If you would like to help with fundraising activity, it would be a big help.  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.

These are a couple of things we'd like you to know before your first food drive.

1.  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."

2.  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.  So very often we are coming into the areas where people sleep.  We only ask that you respect their home as you respect your home.

3.  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.

4.  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 at UMB 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!

5.  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 (remember we are in the city).  If you feel uncomfortable, bring it to another volunteer's attention.  Our clients know us, but you can not be too careful.

6.  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!

Sabrina Powell - President
Daniel Andersen, Ph.D - founder, Vice President, Advisor
Julie Della-Maria, Ph.D - co-founder, Chair of Fundraising Committee, Advisor
Jon Furuno, Ph.D - Advisor
Jade Bernstein - Secretary
Eliana Zaideman - Treasurer

© 2010 Project Jump Start at the University of Maryland, Baltimore