Upper Sandusky residents Jack and Judy Mumma have been named 2012 Outstanding Senior Citizens. The annual honor sponsored by Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging Inc. recognizes senior citizens for their outstanding service to the community.
“I think that God has put us here to help others and there are so many volunteer things out there that need to be done and they can’t be done because so many people are working mothers and fathers,” Judy said. “When you retire and you have the time, it’s nice to have fun; but to me, there’s more purpose in life than that and that’s doing what you can to help others.”
Jack said he does not feel that he is deserving of any award.
“I just don’t think that this whole thing really fits me,” he said. “I don’t do it for an award. I do it because there’s a need. … When you help people you always feel good about it. It’s a win-win. Everybody wins when you help somebody and it doesn’t matter how you help somebody. Whether you call them because they’re lonely, whether you go see them, whether you take them something, it doesn’t matter. It helps everybody and everybody comes out happy.”
Jack and Judy Mumma, both 72, met in 1958 while both were students at Hiram College in northeast Ohio. They married three years later and lived in the Cleveland area before moving to Baltimore, Md., which they called home from 1969-74.
While living in Maryland, the Mummas opened their home to foster newborn babies. The babies came to the Mummas as soon as three days after they were born and stayed with the couple for as long as six months before they were adopted. In five years, Jack and Judy Mumma took 25 babies into their home.
“We got newborns from the hospital at just 72 hours old and that’s my favorite state, that newborn state,” Judy said. “… These babies just came and we could just love them. … I knew that we had done what we were supposed to do — love them and nurture them.”
The Mummas moved to Upper Sandusky in 1981, the same year they joined John Stewart United Methodist Church, where their work for others continued.
“First and foremost, Jack and Judy are dynamic workers in the life of the church,” said the Rev. Wayne Geissinger, pastor of John Stewart UMC. “They are never afraid to step in and say, ‘Yeah, I’ll help out. I’ll do whatever I can.’ From teaching classes, to working in the secretary’s office, to leading various work areas and serving on committees, they just do an awful lot in the church. Anytime you ask them to do anything, they’re right there and ready to help. I can’t think of anybody that’s more deserving of the award than Jack and Judy.”
Jack teaches Sunday school, is chairman of the administrative council and a former chairman of the staff parish relations committee and tape ministry. Judy is a member of the church choir and praise team and a former choir director, organist, worship chairwoman and junior choir director. Together, the Mummas regularly visit shut-ins and deliver communion to those unable to attend services.
“Some people are so happy to have people just sit and talk to them,” Judy said. “They just love having people drop in because they can’t get out. … We just listen and they just seem so happy to see somebody.”
The Mummas currently are active members of the local Emmaus community, helping to organize retreat weekends for spiritual renewal.
The Mummas church service began during their days in the Cleveland area, when they worked with church youth. Jack was in charge of their church’s stewardship campaign, while Judy was a Sunday school superintendent, worship committee chair, sang in the choir, played piano and organized a nursery.
The Mummas’ efforts extend from church pews to prison walls. After retiring from his position as a teacher and program leader at Marion Correctional Institution in 2005, Jack became a volunteer facilitator for the prison’s Opening Doors program, which was developed to help inmates control their anger and make better decisions.
“When I retired, I was terrified that I would have nothing to do and I prayed about it and things started happening that I could be involved in and I just love it,” Jack said. “I don’t really think about it as volunteering. I just think about it as it’s something that I can do and if I’m helping somebody, so much the better.”
Jack also volunteers each week to supervise working prisoners.
“It’s so rewarding to have (the prisoners) tell me something that I know it’s because they trust me,” Jack said. “… I consider them friends.”
Jack has participated in 20 programs to help prisoners and Judy joins him while visiting inmates across the state, some on death row. The Mummas also serve the Kairos community, the prison version of Emmaus.
“Most people see (prison) inmates as terrible, horrible people, but they are still people and many people forget that,” Judy said. “They treat them as though they are not worth anything. They are people who made terrible, horrible mistakes, but they’re still people. Jack respects them and he treats them like they are people and it makes a whole world of difference and I enjoy going with him.”
“Who hasn’t made a mistake? The only difference between me and (a prison inmate) is he got caught,” Jack said. “Maybe I didn’t do exactly what he did, but I crossed the line of the law a few times and I’m just thankful I’m not there (in jail). None of us can hold our head up and say, ‘I’ve never done anything wrong.’”
The Mummas also support the prisoners’ families through Stand in the Gap, a program that serves parents of inmates.
The Mummas for several years volunteered at the Wyandot County Council on Aging, delivering meals to the homes of area senior citizens. Judy also entertained seniors at several events with her piano playing. The agency’s executive director, Connie Geissinger, nominated the Mummas for the Outstanding Senior Citizens Award.
“They are wonderful people and they will do anything to help anyone in need,” Geissinger said.
Like her husband, Judy said she does not volunteer for the accolades. She does it to help others.
“It feels weird (to be honored),” Judy said. “I just do it because I want to and I’m supposed to. You’re supposed to help others and it’s just kind of natural for us. The honor is neat and we’re having a good time with it, but we’d still be doing it if we weren’t honored. We didn’t do it to get this award.”
“It’s surreal,” Jack said about receiving the honor. “It seems like it ought to be someone else.”
The Mummas were honored at the Carey Fest parade last Saturday and the Upper Sandusky Fireman’s Festival parade July 27. They will be honored again during Senior Citizens’ Day at the Wyandot County Fair on Sept. 13.
This is Jack’s second honor for community service. He also was named Medical Mutual Outstanding Volunteer in 2010.
The Mummas have two adult children and three granddaughters.
By CHANDA NEELY