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Urban Ministries set to launch drive

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By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Urban Ministries of Wake County has raised $4.4 million in the quiet phase of a campaign to raise $5.5 million for its new headquarters on Capital Boulevard and to expand its programs.

Co-chaired by Peter Hans at law firm Helms Mullis Wicker and community volunteer Susie Stephenson, the campaign kicks off its public phase this summer, says Anne Burke, executive director.

Of funds the campaign raises, $1.8 million will support an operating reserve to expand services Urban Ministries provides through its free open-door clinic, its food pantry and its crisis-support program.

The agency will use another $450,000 for campaign expenses, and the remainder for the purchase, renovation and expansion of its new quarters.

Urban Ministries in March moved to the two-story Capital Boulevard facility from the 13,000-square-foot facility on Semart Drive it had occupied since 1991.

Its new home includes a 15,000-square-foot building it purchased from Harris Wholesale for nearly $1.6 million and then renovated for $781,000, plus a 4,000-square-foot expansion it built at a cost of $716,000 that houses its food pantry on its first floor.

Urban Ministries continues to operate its Helen Wright Center for Women, a shelter, on Cabarrus Street across from the Amtrak station.

The agency sold the Semart Drive facility for $500,000 to Gregory & Parker, a development firm involved in the new Seaboard Station complex.

Over the next three years, Burke says, Urban Ministries expects clients at its free clinic to triple to 3,600 individuals making 15,000 visits, while clients at its food pantry serves should double to 14,000 families, or 26,000 individuals.

Growth at Urban Ministries’ crisis-support program, which provides roughly 2,000 people with services such as financial support, vouchers for medical prescriptions and financial counsel, will depend on annual fundraising, Burke says.

The annual fund was expected to total $1.3 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30 and will grow to $1.98 million in the fiscal year that began July 1, Burke says.

Staff should grow over three years to the equivalent of nearly 40 people working full-time from 22 now.

The agency also counts on 1,800 to 2,000 volunteers, 400 of them professional medical volunteers who work in the free clinic.

WakeMed has made a $1 million lead gift to the campaign and has agreed to pay the cost of a full-time physician plus either a family nurse practitioner or a physician assistant for the free clinic.

Other big gifts to the campaign, advised by Philanthropic Advisory Group, include $600,000 Wake County will give over three years; $250,000 from the Stewards Fund that Urban Ministries has matched; $91,000 from the city; and $50,000 from the Josephus Daniels Charitable Fund at the Triangle Community Foundation.

Burke says Urban Ministries is expanding to help address community needs.

The agency’s free clinic, for example, serves only uninsured indigent adults.

Yet while Wake County is home to nearly 73,000 uninsured indigent adults, or those living in four-person households with annual income of roughly $36,000 or less, annual household income for the clinic’s clients actually totals $15,400 for a family of three.

“There’s a huge gap in access to health care for uninsured people in Wake County,” Burke says.

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