Personality: Pam Mines

Spotlight on founder of nonprofit JP JumPers Foundation

12/29/2017, 12:44 p.m.
Helping people in the special needs community is a labor of love for Pam Mines. “I am not the advocacy …

Helping people in the special needs community is a labor of love for Pam Mines. “I am not the advocacy voice for the special needs community. I am simply a voice,” says the Chesterfield County resident.

Mrs. Mines is the founder and president of the JP JumPers Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting families dealing with special needs through education, financial assistance, public awareness and advocacy.

Mrs. Mines started the foundation in 2013. It is named for her 13-year-old son, J.P., who is autistic and has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He was diagnosed with autism at age 2. “I became proactive once I realized J.P. was delayed,” says Mrs. Mines, who has a background in early childhood education and development.

The Mineses also have a daughter, Michelle, 15 and an adopted godniece, Sydnee, 15, who has neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form along the nervous system. She also has ADHD and is blind in her left eye.

The family began by organizing teams for local autism walks to raise money and awareness. But the teams grew over the years from seven to more than 200 walkers, Mrs. Mines says. “At that point, I figured it was time to turn the walk team into something bigger that impacted more individuals affected by special needs, not just autism.” That’s when the JP JumPers Foundation was started, and its reach and impact have grown.

Because of the efforts of Mrs. Mines and the foundation, Virginia adopted what’s called “JP’s Law” in 2014 that was approved by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Under the law, individuals can voluntarily ask that a code be added to their Virginia driver’s license or Department of Motor Vehicles ID card noting they have autism spectrum disorder or an intellectual disability.

“It helps law enforcement officers to be more aware of an individual’s diagnosis so they can better respond to a person’s unique abilities and limitations,” Mrs. Mines says. “This is not a pass for those with special needs. This just lets the officer know that the individual’s response may be different from most.” Mrs. Mines and the foundation are working to get a similar law passed nationally.

The foundation also sponsors the Wandering Project, in which if pays for a year for tracking devices through Project Lifesaver for families who have a loved one who may wander because of autism, Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia, or Down’s syndrome or other special needs.

“JP JumPers Foundation is different from other nonprofits. We want to have a tangible impact,” Mrs. Mines says. “We recognize that if you have a child with special needs, it adds a financial burden no matter what your profession. Our goal is to help alleviate that burden.”

For example, she notes, “If your child has dietary issues and parents can only buy food from Whole Foods Market because this is the only thing your child can eat, get with us. We can get you a gift card to cut down on the cost.” Mrs. Mines says the foundation wants to help parents understand that having a special needs child is “an appointment by God.”

“It is not a punishment, an accident or a curse,” she said. “If parents with autistic children can feel a little bit better knowing that they have been chosen, then we have helped one person with that message. That’s our goal.”

Meet this week’s Personality and special needs advocate Pam Mines:

Occupation: Capital region director at Special Olympics VA.

Duties of position: Managing Special Olympics VA programs, athletes and volunteers in the City of Richmond and Henrico, Hanover and Charles City counties.

Community involvement: Founder and president of JP JumPers Foundation.

Current residence: North Chesterfield County.

Education: Associate degree in early childhood education and certifications.

Family: Husband, Perry Mines, and children, Michelle Mines, JP Mines and Sydnee Baker.

Foremost mission of JP JumPers Foundation: To provide support for those affected by special needs through tangible assistance, public awareness, education and partnering with other organizations.

Why I am excited about this organization: I am extremely excited that, through this organization, this unseen community is in the spotlight and seen by those who are affected by special needs and those who are not.

How organization is working with law enforcement about JP’s Law: We train cadets and officers regularly about JP’s Law, not on how to be a police officer. We are very appreciative to law enforcement and what they do for our community. So our role is to speak to them from the “we” perspective.

Steps the organization is taking for JP’s Law to become national: We are meeting with members of Congress and talking with neighboring state legislatures in an effort to make this law national. I initiated this law because I wanted to do it in honor of my son, not in memory of him. The goal is to be proactive, not reactive.

What motivated me to get involved in community service: My mom and dad always involved us in volunteering but my dad really had us out in the community doing things little girls didn’t typically do, like going to the “Shelter-Thon” every year to help clean, paint and fix up shelters in the Richmond and Tri-Cities areas. We fed the homeless with him. We just always gave back and I guess it kind of stuck. Now it’s a part of my everyday life. It is truly all I think about, and now my kids are giving back at a young age as well. They understand the power of giving to those in need and the community as a whole. Community involvement and the kindness of others who give back motivate me daily.

How I start the day: I literally start every day thinking what can I do for the special needs community, and I go to bed at night wondering if I did all I could for the special needs community. I want to do all that I can to positively impact this often overlooked community because none of us chose to be a part of this community. However, God chose us! Having a loved one in your life with special needs is not an accident, a punishment or a curse. It is an assignment by God and we need to take it seriously. Not only that, God chose the person with special needs because he knew they had the determination to handle it and they had you to care for them and be in their corner.

Perfect day for me: A day where I’ve introduced someone to the special needs community who would not otherwise be impacted and now they consider themselves a part of the “We” (not “them”), when addressing the special needs community.

If I had more time, I would: Give more, speak more, engage more, make people laugh more and gain more allies for this community.

A quote that I am inspired by: My uncle, Wayne Winborne, said something to me in 2015 when we were having a conversation about giving, why we give and the impact of giving. I quote it often: “You never give to get anything in return, but your giving will give you everything in return.”

Best late-night snack: Tostitos chips with salsa and cheese, mixed with a dollop of sour cream.

Best thing my parents ever taught me: My parents taught me a lot, but the best thing my mom taught me was to live by the quote, “Nothing beats a failure but a try.” Because of that, I think I can accomplish anything because I’ll always beat failure because I always will try.

Person who influenced me the most: My husband, Perry Mines. He is always cheering for me. He knows my heart, he knows my passion, he knows my goals, he listens to me talk a lot about a lot. He is also honest, caring and wants what’s best for me. He is the only one who can tell me to slow down. He is the one who makes sure I eat. He is the one who buys champagne for things that occurred that no one knows about. He is my biggest support and, at times, the only opinion that matters. His strength as a husband, father, brother and friend influences me to be strong, too.

The book that influenced me the most: “The Success Principles” by Jack Canfield.

What I’m reading now: “Seize Your Life: How to Carpe Diem Every Day” by Jasmine Brett Stringer.

The one thing that I’ve learned in life is: Being positive yields positive results. Make it a way of life, not just something for the moment.

My next goal: To make JP’s Law a national law and to make the JP JumPers Foundation a national organization with multiple chapters of people #JumPingIn across the world.