Reflecting on the Past as We Plan for Greater Inclusion Ahead

Jubilee’s First 45 Years Mirror Societal Progress

“Violence besets home” read a 1978 Washington Post headline read after Jubilee opened its first group home. Gunshots were fired through the window. A burning rag was thrown into the garage.

Yet Jubilee’s founders persisted. They were motivated by the growing civil rights movement for people with disabilities and a better understanding of inhumane conditions in institutions.

Committed volunteers from Hyattsville Mennonite Church and a small staff learned on the job the challenges and rewards of helping adults with disabilities live with independence and dignity. What started as one group home grew to eight locations where Jubilee helped people in the organization’s first decade.

Vicki Geiger joined Jubilee as a direct support professional in 1988, helping to open a home for three women with disabilities. “One thing that has always stayed with me from that time is the support and love from the families,” shared Vicki, one of Jubilee’s 11 staff members whose service spans more than 20 years. “The faith-based aspect of is one of the reasons I’ve stayed so long. I fell in love with Jubilee.” 

The ensuing decades brought stability as Jubilee grew and evolved with the times. In 2007 Jubilee pivoted to focusing on supporting people where they want to live. The decision to no longer purchase group homes was the first step in our innovative housing model that emphasizes greater flexibility and choice. Jubilee’s housing work has now expanded to help 155 people navigate the complex housing market through our Housing Support Services. 

“Jubilee’s been helping me since 1980,” shared Laura Jeanne Kuster. “I lived in houses with roommates for a long time. When I told Jubilee a few years ago I really wanted to live in my own apartment they made it happen.”

Fast forward to 2023 and the recent rededication of a Jubilee owned home in Rockville. The housewarming party for Linda Hanna, the first resident of this newly renovated house, included neighbors eager to meet Linda and elected officials lauding Jubilee’s work.

What a difference four and a half decades of inclusion makes in the embrace of our mission by the community.

“We keep walking faithfully in the footsteps of those who started Jubilee,” reflected Steve Keener, Jubilee’s executive director. “The values that drove Jubilee’s founders continue to inspire our work today. And beautiful people living beautiful lives in their communities is the result.”