JumpStart Jack’s Call to Service

by Matt Stubbs

At some point in most of our lives we get an urge or a call to service.

Most of us satisfy the urge with a day of volunteering at the local food pantry or a weekend building a house for a needy family. Some go a step further and volunteer regularly or hold annual fundraisers. A smaller group goes above and beyond the conventional means of service. This group’s involvement can include (but is not limited to) starting their own community association, developing after-school programs, or providing skill training. JumpStart’s instructor, Jack Diehl, fits in that smaller group.

Jack has 30 years of experience in construction. Before becoming JumpStart’s lead instructor he gave back as a teacher. For 30 years he taught shop to the teenagers of Baltimore City at Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School. Jack, himself, is an accomplished construction student having obtained the title of Master HVAC Technician and the ability to teach first year apprenticeship.

Jack’s new call to service started from a partnership with a non-profit wanting to train Baltimore residents in construction in order to advance their likelihood of employment. This program was JumpStart which is a 13 week pre-apprenticeship construction training program. Jack describes the moment he became dedicated to the program:

“I was waiting outside the classroom waiting for the students to show up and I noticed a car that had pulled up. A man, around 40 or 45 years old dressed in a white button-down shirt, tie, and khakis, got out of the passenger’s seat and a woman got out of the driver’s seat. They hugged and she gave him a kiss on the cheek and told him good luck. I thought to myself “how many times has this guy gone through the same routine before an interview and been turned down?” I knew at that moment I had to be a part of this program, I had to try and help these guys.”

In the JumpStart classroom, Jack is master of his domain. Ask any graduate and they’ll tell you Jack knows what he’s doing. The students respect Jack because he demands more from them than anyone ever has. To the outsider Jack may at times seem harsh, but students say it’s a tough love. Jack runs the classroom like a jobsite and the students learn what is expected of them at a site and what is unacceptable to employers.

JumpStart is truly lucky to have such a great lead instructor. A dedicated and compassionate leader, Jack personifies the call of service. This year JumpStart has enrolled its 400th student and with Jack’s help we look forward to 400 more.

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