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Coping with tough times

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Greensboro Urban Ministry raises money for emergency assistance.

By Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. [04.28.04] — With demand growing for emergency assistance, Greensboro Urban Ministry has raised $42,000 through a community appeal, and over $100,000 more in grants.

The nonprofit, with a $2.7 million annual budget, provided emergency assistance to 40,000 people last year, and 400 alone this February, up 8 percent from a year earlier.

While cold weather may have triggered the increase in February, the driving cause, even before 9/11, has been the region’s stumbling economy, says the Rev. Mike Aiken, executive director.

“Even if we have a recovery, we realize it’s going to be a lot longer here because a lot of these manufacturing jobs are not going to come back,” he says.

In addition to emergency assistance for utilities, heat, rent, food and clothing that it provides directly to families in coordination with religious congregations, the Salvation Army and social-service agencies, Urban Ministry operates two shelters, transitional housing, and food bank, food pantry and community kitchen.

Weaver House, a shelter for single adults at the nonprofit’s main office at 305 W. Lee St., has 84 beds for men and 16 for women, while Pathways, a transitional-housing shelter at 3517 N. Church St. in Urban Ministry’s Partnership Village, has 16 studio apartments for families facing emergencies.

Next door to Pathways is a transitional-housing complex that includes 24 three-bedroom apartments for formerly homeless families and 32 studio apartments for individuals who stay for up two years.

Through its food bank at 305 W. Lee St., Urban Ministry last year distributed 875,000 pounds of salvaged food to other nonprofit agencies that serve hungry people, plus more than 500,000 pounds for its programs.

And through its food pantry at the same location, it provided nearly 11,000 bags of emergency food to 6,675 families.

The group’s Potter’s House community kitchen, also at 305. W. Lee St., serves meals to 350 to 400 people a day, seven days a week, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Urban Ministry raises money mainly through donations and special events, including Serving Greensboro Together, scheduled for May 4.

The event last year generated $36,120 for Urban Ministry from restaurants that contribute 10 percent of their sales that day.

Similar events will be held the same day to benefit Open Door Ministry in High Point and Crisis Control Ministry in Winston-Salem.

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