Feast of Caring helps homelessBy Alyssa Judd
Published: November 21, 2012
Urban Ministry’s fundraiser helps support vital programs
During this time of year Greensboro Urban Ministry (GUM), “an ecumenical outreach agency supported by more than 200 congregations,” hosts an extraordinary feast with the help of several Greensboro volunteers. The ministry strives to end homelessness in Greensboro.
Last Thursday, November 15, Urban Ministry kicked off its 21st Annual Feast of Caring. This year’s fundraising event raised $33,000. According to GUM Executive Director, Rev. Mike Aiken, approximately 80 percent of the proceeds received were cash or check donations. The remaining 20 percent were pledges.
Organizers hoped to raise $50,000 at this year’s feast. In the past, the non-profit organization raised as much as $79,000. Area residents attended the feast, held at First Baptist Church on Friendly Ave. The feast is unique because attendees donate or pledge $25 to Urban Ministry and receive a pottery bowl or a set of 5 holiday cards called Honor Cards.
Participants use the pottery to feast on a variety of soups/ chili and bread. Aiken said he hopes the pottery and the Honor Cards will help Urban Ministry raise half of the organization’s $4 million operating budget. He credited the cards, created by local artist William Mangum, as a key element in GUM’s fundraising efforts and as a way for the community to help GUM sustain its many programs.
Greensboro’s Temple Emanuel is one of many religious congregations with members who volunteer with Urban Ministry. Rabbi Andy Koren, Assistant Rabbi and Director of Religious Education at Temple Emanuel, said they strongly encourage their congregants to participate in all aspects of the Feast
“It’s hard for us [people] to understand Thanksgiving without the giving part,” said Koren. “The statistics on food insecurity in the area should be a wake-up call. We’re one of the worst areas in the U.S. for that. It’s hard to believe but it’s true. Supporting Urban Ministry is a very important thing to do, there are other important needs also, but in particular, providing relief where it is needed most.”
“Greensboro Urban Ministry gives financial aid, food, and daily lunch meals,” said Marykarinna Hall, GUM’s volunteer coordinator. “Donations are vital.”
The Urban Ministry’s Winter Emergency (WE!) shelters, which operate from December 1 to April 1, depend heavily on proceeds raised during the Feast of Caring and the selling of Honor Cards. GUM must raise at least $143,000 to fund the WE! program. Urban Ministry also offers emergency utility and rent assistance.
The non-profit organization strives to prevent homelessness in all ways possible. For example, GUM’s Partnership Village provides 32 single adults with an apartment and 36 families with 2 or 3 bedroom apartments. GUM’s Pathways Center provides 16 families with housing. Beyond GUM is another program within the organization. The fairly new program assists homeless individuals or families in locating permanent housing before having to go to one of GUM’s shelters. Each program is supported by Urban Ministry’s operating budget.
On Friday, November 16, Aiken said the organization was preparing to serve its annual Thanksgiving meal. GUM was only able to raise half the money needed to feed 4,000 people. Sixteen thousand dollars is needed for the Thanksgiving meal and an anonymous donor has offered to match up to $4,000 for additional funds raised.
The November 22 meal will be served from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Urban Ministry, 305 W. Lee Street. A second site will be open at Congregational United Church of Christ, 400 W. Radiance Drive.
Aiken is hopeful Greensboro community members will help Urban Ministry meet its financial goals so the organization can continue to carry out its important mission of service to others.
“Everyone can identify with the need for a Thanksgiving meal,” said Aiken.
To purchase honor cards, visit the Urban Ministry Web site: www.greensborourbanministry.org/annual_events/honor_cards, Barnes & Noble and William Mangum Fine Art.
Donations may be payable to The Holiday Fund c/o The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro; 330 S. Greene St;, Suite 100, Greensboro, NC 27401.