From chores to hot meals, home can mean a variety of things. This stable environment can foster relationships and inspire bright futures. As the parents of a very distinctive home, Jeremy Mapp (’10, ’12) and Rachel (Richardson) Mapp (’10) demonstrate a commitment and love for their community.
Started in 2006, Joe’s Place, or JP, is a program through the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District in Maplewood, Mo. It provides homeless teenage boys in the area a supportive home environment while encouraging a positive future. After a short interview process last year, Jeremy and Rachel were selected as the new house parents of JP.
“We were quickly attracted to JP, which was a big part of why I ended up accepting a teaching position in the school district,” Jeremy said.
Between Sunday evening and Friday afternoon, the Mapps serve as parents to four boys staying in the house. They address social and emotional issues and provide academic support, in addition to managing the physical upkeep of the house. Jeremy and Rachel also help with other aspects of the program by attending promotional events and coordinating volunteer and donation efforts.
“We are parents and are often considered the face of the organization,” Jeremy said.
During their first year, the Mapps have enjoyed meals, sports, holidays, birthdays and graduation celebrations with their unique family. In addition, they help instill values and shape life decisions on college, careers and relationships. Although there are challenging moments raising teenagers, the couple enjoys getting to know each of the boys on a personal level.
“Within our first week as house parents, we welcomed a new member to the JP family. One of the students graduated last year, so we had an opening for another student who moved in during the beginning of school,” Jeremy said. “We had a bonfire and basketball ritual, which was a great first experience for all of us.”
The Mapps balance their responsibilities at Joe’s Place between separate full-time jobs. Jeremy teaches sixth grade math at Maplewood Richmond Heights Elementary School, while Rachel, who earned a master’s degree from Maryville University in 2012, is a community support specialist at Bridges Community Support Service and a career development instructor at the International Institute of St. Louis. They also help the community in other ways, including assisting local shelters during the holidays.
“We enjoy giving back to the community because that’s what people are supposed to do,” Rachel said.
During their time at Truman, the Mapps were active both in the campus and surrounding communities. The couple took advantage of service opportunities through their respective organizations and participated in campus-wide events such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and the Big Event. Jeremy specifically was involved with Residence Life and the Multicultural Affairs Center, holding a number of positions from student advisor to program coordinator. He attributes many of his personal skills to these valuable on-campus opportunities.
“I learned so much from all of my experiences in the Multicultural Affairs Center and Residence Life.All of my work with [Truman] students has prepared me to meet the needs of my students on a more individualized basis,” Jeremy said. “My experiences with emergency and mental health situations have proven to be very helpful as I work with my students at school and especially on a more personal level at JP.”
Currently, the Mapps plan to continue their tenure with Joe’s Place. They remain committed to serving in the community through their work and other volunteer opportunities.