Our History

History as Published for Jubilee’s 25th Anniversary

In the late 1970s, the opening of group homes for people with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities was a relatively new thing. The State of Maryland was beginning to provide funding and licensing for private agencies to operate group homes. At this same time, volunteers from the Mennonite church had been working at Forest Haven. Forest Haven was the District of Columbia’s institution for people who had developmental disabilities. Some of these church volunteers attended Hyattsville Mennonite Church (HMC). Because of the volunteer involvement and because some members of HMC had professional and/or personal interest in this area of service, the idea of the church opening a group home surfaced. This idea was talked about by some of the small groups within the church.

Church Connections

In 1976, Larry and Lois Kennedy started attending HMC. Larry and Lois had worked with people who had mental retardation and it was their dream to open a Christian group home in the model of the L’Arche group homes. The dreams of HMC and of Larry and Lois Kennedy became one. Larry and Lois became part of one of the small groups at HMC, known as the North West Group, and that group gave support to moving forward with this dream.

Bob Johnson was the pastor of HMC during this time. Rev. Johnson was excited about this group home becoming a ministry of the church. He worked closely with Larry Kennedy and was a central figuring in forming the original Board of Directors, of which he was a member. Bob Johnson and Larry Kennedy were both charismatic individuals, which was an important element in launching a new ministry such as Jubilee Association.

Family Connections

Gloria Dove, who had been involved in the beginnings of Melwood, also had a dream of a Christian group home for her son, Bob. When Gloria heard Larry talking about his dream, at a meeting at the Fourth Presbyterian Church, she was eager to get on board. Gloria began talking with her friends, including Joe and Ruth Mathias. This group of parents grew to include others who would become the original residents of Jubilee’s first group home.

Getting Organized

On September 11, 1977, a meeting of those interested in the development of the Group Home was held during the congregational dinner. The following people were present at that meeting: Ivan Magal, Lewis Hartman, Donna Lou Heatwole, Bob Johnson, Dennis and Judy Langley, and Lois and Larry Kennedy. Jubilee Association of Maryland was incorporated in the State of Maryland on September 21, 1977. On February 5, 1978, a corporate organizational meeting of the Board of Directors took place. The following people were elected to the original Board of Directors: Dennis Langely was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors, also elected to the Board were Donna Heatwole, Henry Brunk, Bob Johnson, Glen Blauch, Larry Kennedy and Tim Wiens. At this same organizational meeting, an admission committee was formed that included Donna Heatwole, Bob Johnson, Ivan Magal, Loretta Lehman, Tim Wiens, and Larry Kennedy.

First Residents

On January 27, 1978, Bob Dove and Mark Mathias moved into a house on Sandy Ridge Road in Silver Spring and so Jubilee began providing services to the community. Within a month, neighbors were complaining and someone blasted out the living room picture window with a shotgun. Larry Kennedy worked closely with the Maryland Mental Retardation Administration and Montgomery County to get the home licensed. During the following months, five more clients moved into the house, including Danielle Renouf, whose father was the Australian ambassador to the United States. During this time, relations with the neighbors also improved markedly.

The clients’ families paid $500 per month for services, and although the State of Maryland provided some start-up funds, the home was run entirely on private dollars. Larry and Lois Kennedy, salaried employees, lived in the home and two church volunteers provided additional staffing.

First Year – Unsteady on our Feet

The first year for Jubilee had its ups and downs. There was a lot of joy and caring in the house on Sandy Ridge Road as new clients got to know each other and became family to one another. Bob Dove and Mark Mathias were the first people to move in. Others who moved into the house that spring included Mimi Gaughan, Beth Schiffman, Tammy Kominic, and Danielle Renouf. There was a discussion group for families, which was facilitated by Tim Wiens. In the first year, the chairman of the Board, Dennis Langley, moved out of the area and Tim Wiens became the new chair. Tensions developed between Larry Kennedy, the Executive Director and the Board of Directors.

In March of 1979, Larry and Lois resigned and on April 1, 1979, Tim Wiens took over as the Executive Director on an interim basis. Two church volunteers, Mary Jane Amstutz and Sue Darby, worked with Tim at the Sandy Ridge Road home. In May of 1979, Sue completed her one-year voluntary service term and departed. This left Tim and Mary Jane as the only two workers for a seven-person group home. That spring brought three new clients to the Sandy Ridge Road group home: Priscilla Johnson, Joe LaCrosse and Brian Lyman. On July 1, 1979, Tim Wiens became the permanent full-time Executive Director. A major portion of Tim’s time was spent as a counselor in the group home working with Mary Jane. In September of 1979, Jubilee hosted its first Crab Feast – Chicken BBQ fundraiser. This event became a Jubilee tradition that continues in modified form to this day.

First Supported Living Services
In February of 1980, Mimi Gaughan and Tammy Kominic moved out of the Sandy Ridge Road group home and into an apartment at Inwood House. Jubilee continued to provide 10 hours a week of services to these two women at their new apartment.

Anxious Times

In late 1979 and early 1980, Burt Fretz, Pat Senner and Irv Weaver from the Allegheny Mennonite Conference joined the Board of Directors. During this time, our financial condition had become a problem. Jubilee had not been able to attract additional church volunteers and so we needed to hire employees. Lamar Freed and Cindy Lehman were Jubilee’s first full-time paid counselors. Robin Allen, a student at the University of Maryland, was hired as a part-time counselor. Jubilee worked on securing funding from both private and public sources during this time. There were anxious times during 1981 when Jubilee came close to closing because of the lack of funding.

Early Growth

In early 1982, Jubilee signed a contract with what was then the Maryland Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Administration (MRDDA) to serve four clients from what was called the “Sach’s Class.” This was a class of people who had mental retardation and possibly mental illness and were inappropriately placed and in need of community services. Beulah Kobylarz came to live in the Sandy Ridge Road group home and a new three-person home called an Alternative Living Unit (ALU) was opened on Columbia Boulevard in Silver Spring for Erwin Soto, Henry Tamargo and Jeff Mettger. This new ALU was within walking distance of Grace Episcopal Church. With the support of the church, Henry and Jeff started attending there and Jeff became a valued member of this church and established several long-term friendships. At about this same time, Jubilee started receiving some funding from Montgomery County. The combination of these state funds and county funds helped Jubilee to achieve a viable financial condition.

Better Financial Picture

The gaining of state funding and the addition of new board members during the early 1980s brought Jubilee stability and a solid footing from which to grow. Two clients’ parents, Charles Johnson and Gerardo Soto, joined the Board. Also joining the Board were Eric Cowell from the Silver Spring Civitan Club and Donald Nair, a businessman from the HMC. Tim Wiens was elected Chair of the Maryland Community Residential Services Coalition, the first of many state and countywide leadership positions he would hold.

September Lane

In the summer of 1983, Jubilee opened a new three-person ALU, a townhouse on September Lane in Silver Spring and again funded by the State of Maryland. Tom Lee, Brian (Barney) Law and Robert Johnson, three men who had been living with their families, moved into this new home.


By 1985, there was a marked flurry of activity to expand and strengthen Jubilee. Early in the year, Jubilee purchased the Sandy Ridge Road group home from Dean Mann. Dr. Mann, a member of HMC who had purchased the house for our use, made a substantial contribution by donating his equity in the property. Jubilee took out a loan to pay off the balance of his mortgage. At around the same time, Jubilee purchased a house located on Hinsdale Court for Erwin, Henry and Jeff, who had been living in a rented house on Columbia Boulevard. Thus began the purchase of a number of homes using a variety of financing vehicles including the Montgomery County Group Home Loan Fund.


In 1985, Jubilee began providing Individual Support Services (ISS) to three siblings who lived in a trailer house on their nephew’s farm in the northwestern corner of Montgomery County. ISS was a new program funded and licensed by the State of Maryland. This model involved providing support services to individuals who had developmental disabilities in settings other than group homes.

Long-Range Planning

The Board of Directors worked on long-range planning, looking at the longevity of residential counselors and approving a proposal to the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council. Jubilee was one of the first agencies in Maryland to be accredited by what was then known as the Accreditation Council on Developmental Disabilities ACDD, a national organization. That summer of ’85, Board Member Henry Brunk and his wife Edna hosted the first of our many summer picnics at their home in Upper Marlboro. Jubilee ended fiscal year 1985 with income over $200,000 for the first time.Board member Pearl Jutzi recommended and then helped to create the Jubilee newsletter “Plain Talk,” with Program Manager Debbie Ramsey as our first editor. When Mrs. Jutzi left the Board, Phoebe Hershey became the Board liaison for Plain Talk.

Growing Again

In March of 1986, we purchased a condominium townhouse (Tynewick Terrace) in Georgian Colonies off of Bel Pre Road and began serving three young women there. In 1988, a home for three older women was purchased on Milestone Drive in Silver Spring. In 1990, a house on Greenspan Lane was purchased that allowed some of the people who had been living at Jubilee’s original group home to move into a new home, reducing the number of residents at the Sandy Ridge Road group home from seven to five, with each then having their own bedroom. In late 1990, a townhouse was purchased on Eaglewood Court for three men. During this time, we also expanded the number of people receiving Individual Support Services and began working with people who had developmental disabilities and who were homeless.

Volunteers and Fundraising

During the summer of 1987, Tim Wiens’ parents, Elmer and Leola, came from Kansas to work for Jubilee as volunteers through the Mennonite Church. They stayed for a year, did maintenance and helped out in many other ways, and hung out with their two young grandchildren. A volunteer program was started in 1990. Jubilee Foundation was incorporated in 1991 to do fundraising and public relations for Jubilee Association of Maryland.

A “Real” Office

In February of 1988, Jubilee moved its offices out of the shed behind the Sandy Ridge Road and into an office building in Wheaton. This move was symbolic of the growth that had occurred and was continuing during 1985 and into the early 1990s. Jubilee was expanding services, and developing an infrastructure to support the needs of a changing and growing organization.

Emergence as a Leader

After Jubilee struggled to establish itself in the early 1980s and as it grew in size during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Jubilee began to emerge as a leader in the field of community residential services for adults who have developmental disabilities. Some of this recognition came as a result of leadership positions in statewide organizations that were held by Executive Director Tim Wiens, but much of it came from what Jubilee was accomplishing as an organization.

Quality of Staff

One of the things that established Jubilee’s reputation as a leader was the quality and longevity of its counselors and other direct service employees. The Jubilee Board and administration worked hard at creating working conditions to attract, select and retain high-quality counselors. One of the values that has been part of the Jubilee mission for over a decade is to “foster genuine relationships and caring between staff and those they support.” Many of these employees still work for Jubilee. Jane Ness started as a counselor with our Individual Support Service program in March 1986 and is now our Director of Administration. Tammy Morton Johnson and Janis Hensley both started as counselors in 1994 and are now Program Managers. Kee-Kee Devine, Dawn Hubbard-Moody, Vicki Geiger, Joan Patterson and Anne Laney have all been counselors for over ten years with Jubilee. Phil Corbett, Joseph Eyong, and Carolyn Seegers have all worked at Jubilee for over eight years, contributing both quality and experience. Jubilee’s reputation for excellence and leadership is built at least in part on the work that these people and others like them have done over the past 25 years.

Leadership from the Executive Director

Tim Wiens, Jubilee Association Executive Director has been selected for many leadership positions and earned several awards. He served as the Chair of the Maryland Community Residential Services Coalition for three years during to mid 1980s. Tim served on the Board of Directors of the Maryland Association of Community Services for people with Developmental Disabilities (MACS) for over twelve years. While on this Board, Tim held the following positions: Chair of the Quality Assurance Committee, Treasurer, Vice-President and President of the Board. Following his two-year term as President of MACS, Tim was awarded the Leadership Award by the Maryland Chapter of the American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMR) in 1998. In 1999, he was awarded the “Outstanding Professional of the Year Award” by the Arc of Maryland. In 1997, Governor Glendening appointed Tim to the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council. Tim also served twice as the Chair of the Montgomery County Inter Agency Coordinating Committee for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (Inter ACC/DD). Tim graduated as part of the 2002 class of Leadership Montgomery. Jubilee employees including Pat Mischou, Jim Panatier, Krista Ogburn and Jane Ness have chaired or served on committees for either MACS or Inter ACC/DD.

Agency Awards

In 1999, Jubilee won the Community Agency Award of Excellence from MACS and in 2000, Mennonite Health Services awarded Jubilee with the Organizational Award of Merit at its annual meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia. Tim, Director of Development Sharon Freedman, members of the Jubilee Association Board as well as the agency have also been honored with numerous congratulatory resolutions from the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates.

Cutting Edge

Jubilee’s willingness to innovate, to take risks and to operate at the cutting edge of service delivery have been part of its reputation. Jubilee was among the first agencies in Maryland to provide Individual Support Services (ISS) in the 1980s. Jubilee was also among the first agencies in Maryland to provide Community Supported Living Arrangement (CSLA) services in the 1990s. Jubilee has embraced the concept of Self Determination and worked at giving the people we serve and their families more control over their services.

Community Service Center

In 2001, Jubilee purchased an office building to be used as a Community Service Center in Kensington. The purchase of this building was symbolic of our current position and our future direction in a number of ways. Purchasing a home symbolizes stability. Jubilee has been operating here for 25 years and we expect to continue for the next 25 years (and more). Increasingly, a large percentage of our employees do not work out of group homes. They are active in helping people live in their own homes throughout the community. These employees need a base of operations, a Community Service Center for meetings, desk space and support from the agency infrastructure.

The building Jubilee purchased is twice the size that it currently needs for delivery of services. Jubilee is planning for continued growth. Not aggressive or rapid growth, but growth that is well planned and that enhances the services already being provided.

The Past, The Future

Jubilee Association
of Maryland, Inc.

10408 Montgomery Avenue
Kensington, MD 20895

Tel. 301.949.8626
Fax. 301.949.4628

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