For Jessup 21st Century Association President Genevieve “Genie” Lupini, finding ways to cheer the borough along is more than just a mission — it’s a calling.

What started 26 years ago as an idea shared among friends has grown to an effort responsible for some of Jessup’s most popular events. The nonprofit has also made their mark at Station Park and throughout the community. Here’s what Lupini had to say about the group’s past, present and future:

Q: What is the Jessup 21st Century Association?

A: In 1994, my friends John Cardoni and Gene Varzaly called a meeting and asked me to join them, to start an organization in town to start a flow of activity in the community. We called on a few friends and met a few times, each time gathering more people to join us. Charlie Cardoni, Kevin and Pat Betti, Sharon Wrightson, Alice Vanston, Dr. Frank Cianci, Ann Cappellini and Jay Martilotti met with us and we set goals to sponsor happenings to enhance the community and to bring the young and old of the community together to celebrate life. We will always feel we are rooted in heritage, growing toward tomorrow. We have lost quite a few of these founding members, but we still work for the same goals.

We decided to ask the businesses in the town to be a part of this organization and help us make things happen in town. Even though we only had a few businesses in Jessup at the time, we felt that our new group could make a difference. We approached the Jessup Borough Council and let them know our intentions and now we gratefully acknowledge all the help they have given us in the past and for the future. New industry and families are returning to the area and with that comes the need for restoring the vibrant business community. Working together, we make Jessup the town and community where its citizens are partners to make a better and brighter future for future generations. This organization is committed to helping make Jessup a more inviting place to live. By September of 1995, we were officially the Jessup 21st Century Association, a nonprofit civic group, with 33 paid members.

Q: What does the association do?

A: From planning events to fundraisers, to newsletters and signs, to planting flowers and trees and decorating for all our events, we all join in sharing the workload, because we care a great deal for our community. When we get together we share ideas about how we can make our town more attractive, so all these ideas came into being for our beautification projects: the Station Brick Project, Welcome to Jessup signs, the street clock, bulletin board, the crazy fountain, leave your mark pavers and the pavilion at Station Park and last but the best, our LED bulletin board.

The Jessup 21st Century Association is saying, yes, we make a difference for the town. We have many dedicated members who give their time and energy to support our endeavors. We thank Jessup Borough Council and the Jessup police for their continued help with many of our projects. We also thank the borough maintenance crew who is there for us whenever we need them. We can always count on our local organizations to help us when we plan an event. It might be the Jessup Lions Club, American Legion or the Knights of Columbus, VFW, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Hose Co. 1 and 2 and Ambulance Association and the Citizens Group. We even recruited the Senior Citizens Group to help us. We want everyone in the community to feel a part of our organization. Besides creating events for all to enjoy in our wonderful community, we extend ourselves to help out with other groups in town if they ever need us. We always reach out to businesses to join us to promote themselves with activities that we sponsor.

Q: How can people join?

A: We are proud to say that we have 55 members at this time. There is always a need for more people to attend our meetings, which can range from 10 to 18 lately, so that we get more creative ideas to work with. To keep these events happening, we need new members, says member Sue Grunza. We do ask that a member help with at least one of our events during the year. Our meetings are once a month on the second Monday at 7 p.m. at the borough building. We reach out yearly with a membership letter, but anyone can join by calling a member or they can go to Jessup 21st Century Association on Facebook.

Q: What were some of your projects recently, especially as the community coped with all the changes that the coronavirus pandemic changed?

A: Because of COVID-19, we all wanted what was best for the community, so we had no choice but to cancel all events for the year, including the wine tasting and the July 5th Celebration, which was also the association’s 25th anniversary celebration. ... We are not sure about the Santa Train 2020, but more than likely we will make other plans for that occasion with our Santa gift stockings.

At this time, we are engaging our Facebook Page to create activity for our Jessup businesses and organizations. We hosted a Jessup Strong-Neighbors helping Neighbors fundraiser to ask the community to make food donations for Jessup families, which was Phase 1. Phase 2 was asking to support our local businesses (by) purchasing gift cards from local restaurants and other businesses and Phase 3 was for donations for our Hose Co No. 1 and No. 2 and EMTs to purchase PPE and face masks.

Q: What are you planning for the future?

A: I do hope that we can make all our events happen for 2021, including our wine tasting, which is a tradition to kick off St. Ubaldo Week, and our July 5th Fireworks Celebration, which will include our official 25th anniversary celebration. Our Santa Train 2021 hopefully will take place.

Hmm, what event can we work on next for 2021? Maybe another All Class Reunion. Maybe a movie at Veterans Stadium.

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