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Jubilee Project, Inc. | Jubilee Project History

Our Founders

Steve and Diantha Hodges have served in Tennessee as United Methodist missionaries. After three and a half years of mission work in Korea and North Carolina, they began a new mission project in 1991 in Hancock County, Tennessee -- just south of Virginia, on the border.  Jubilee Project is a mission project begun, in the spirit of the Jubilee Year of Leviticus 25, to help community residents gain the skills, experience and hope necessary to provide for the needs of one of the lowest-income areas of Appalachia.

Steve spent his childhood in South Korea, where his parents were United Methodist missionaries.  His father was a retired United Methodist minister.  Steve attended Perkins School of Theology and Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, graduating (as a lay person) in 1980.  Steve directed community development for Jubilee Project.  He helped start the Jubilee Youth program to provide leadership and faith development, recreation and enrichment for youth; and cooperatives of craftspersons and of persons making food and farm products.  Steve was involved with economic development projects, including Jubilee's small business incubator, holding small business classes and countywide projects.  The most recent projects include the development of the Clinch-Powell Community Kitchens, a shared-use commercial kitchen in which farmers and small-business people can create their own value added food products, and the creation of Appalachian Spring Cooperative, an association of growers and food processors using the Clinch-Powell Community Kitchens to produce gourmet food products for commercial sale.  The Kitchen has drawn attention from the Tennessee Legislature as holding promise for new income for farmers under increasing financial pressure.

Diantha is the granddaughter of missionaries to Mexico, and the daughter of a retired United Church of Christ minister.  She grew up in Indiana and Connecticut. Diantha's work at Jubilee included building the capacity of Jubilee Project and community members to build a better community, conducting leadership development programs, assisting with the development of collaborative community projects, especially those involved with health or concerns about youth. She also shares with Steve the work of speaking in churches and other administrative duties.  She is currently involved in “Achieve Your Dreams”, a project whose aim is to help young women in Hancock County develop life skills, and their interest in college and careers. Within Holston Conference she worked with special camp sessions at Buffalo Mountain Camp for people with special needs. Previous to working with Jubilee Project, she was an occupational therapist, childbirth educator, and a trained midwife.  Now she has a special interest of making herbal salves and products from the abundant plant life found in the Tennessee mountains.