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Urban Ministry competes for national prize
Nonprofit among 10 in running for $50,000 grant
Published Friday, April 27, 2012 11:53 am
by Sommer Brokaw

The Urban Ministry Center of Charlotte is competing for a grant to upfit its historic depot building.

The Urban Ministry of Charlotte, which serves the city's homeless, is competing for a $50,000 grant to upfit its facilities.

In partnership with Rebuilding Together and country music star Trace Adkins, Maxwell House will grant three community houses with $50,000 in renovations. This is the second year of “Drops of Good: The Maxwell House Community Center Project” to help revitalize community centers through prize money and a three-day extreme makeover. The Drops of Good Awards will be presented to the top three vote-getters in a nationwide voting campaign online through June 8.

“This is big day for us, the start of a national competition,” UMC Executive Director Dale Mullennix told supporters at a kick-off event. “We have a chance to win $50,000 and three days of hard work from 50 volunteers to help us bring new life back to this building.” 

UMC, an interfaith organization serving the homeless, has operated programs out of the old Seaboard Air Line Railroad building for several years. The old terminal opened in 1896.

If UMC wins, the grant will be used to improve functioning of the program space, expand the community garden and reduce costs through improved energy efficiency.

“We’re not in the building transformation business, we’re in the lives changing business, but transforming this building can helps us with that,” Mullennix said. “We’ve been hard on it. It needs tender loving care and Rebuilding Together recommending us for this competition gives us a chance to give it that tender loving care.”

Over 500 people come to UMC daily to eat, shower, wash laundry, pick up mail, visit with a nurse or speak with a counselor. The ministry also offers enrichment programs called CommunityWorks 945 to foster motivation and develop life skills. Volunteers come to the center to teach art, coach street soccer, teach gardening or to hold group counseling sessions. The programs have received national recognition and are being models across the country.

“At the heart of the ministry, it’s about connecting people,” said Amy Gough, executive director of Rebuilding Together of the Carolinas, the local affiliate of the national agency that brings together volunteers to make home repairs.

In UMC’s art program alone, over 300 participants have been involved in painting, ceramics, photography and writing classes inspiring many to re-attain self-sufficiency. Sales from the art shows have grossed almost $50,000 to date. StreetSoccer 945 has had team members compete as part of the U.S. team at the Homeless World Cup for the past three years, and 75 percent of team members have moved off the streets. The organic vegetable garden has added fresh nutritious food to Urban Ministry’s soup kitchen.

“When I first started doing art, I was homeless,” said Annie Gurley, who was in a motorized wheelchair wearing a rainbow-colored knit hat that she calls her “happy hat,” because it puts her in a better mood at the gathering to prepare for the competition. “Urban Ministry Center’s art program uplifts the one’s that were out there and had nothing to do. It gives them something to uplift their spirit and make it beautified.”

On the Net:

To cast your vote, visit //www.maxwellhousecoffee.com/drops-of-good/all-centers



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