In our continuing Customer Spotlight series, we are focusing on The Greensboro Urban Ministry. Assistant Executive Director Mark Sumerford was kind enough to take a few minutes out of his busy day to speak with us.
Feeding Those In Need
In North Carolina, over 15% of the population don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Greensboro Urban Ministry offers free meals daily and gives out emergency groceries four days a week. The Potter’s House Community Kitchen provides a hot, nutritious lunch every day, including holidays.
In addition to the community lunch, Potter’s house also provides breakfast and dinner to guests staying in the Weaver House shelter. They welcome anyone who needs a meal, regardless of the person’s circumstances.
The Greensboro Urban Ministry Food Pantry has provided food for people at risk of hunger. They have provided this service in Guilford County for over 30 years. Community food drives throughout the year help stock the shelves. GUM also receives weekly donations from a variety of local grocery stores. The pantry supports low-income individuals’ nutritional needs. It does so by providing wholesome food to supplement their diet while helping to stretch their food dollars. The Food Pantry hours are 9:30 am – 3:30 pm Monday – Friday.
Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on Greensboro Urban Ministry. For instance, Weaver House – which provides emergency shelter to single men and women – has had to reduce the number of beds available by almost half. Because of COVID protocol, residents need to be kept at a safe distance apart. The Potter’s House Community Kitchen switched from a dining room setting to providing take-out for the community. This change has made it more difficult to serve as many people as they could pre-pandemic. Additionally, they have had to make adjustments to the food pantry, lobby, and outside area.
On a positive note, Greensboro Urban Ministry has partnered with the City of Greensboro to provide rental assistance for people impacted by COVID-19. While they have provided rental assistance in the past, GUM’s assistance with rent and utilities has increased since the pandemic began. Assistant Executive Director Mark Sumerford estimates they have helped over 1,200 families and individuals impacted by COVID-19.
Another impact of the coronavirus is that volunteers have not felt as safe being in an indoor setting. Some of the older, more vulnerable volunteers have actually been advised to not come in. This is because the Omicron variant is so contagious. However, volunteers are still needed and can be put to work safely in the Food Pantry to sort food. There is always a need for such volunteers.
Providing Shelter & Aid
During the winter months, there is always an increase in demand for shelter. Greensboro Urban Ministry has partnered with Guilford County Continuum of Care to provide services to people experiencing homelessness. Additionally, the city of Greensboro and Interactive Resource Center provides a Warming Center. This is available on very cold nights at First Baptist Church in Greensboro.
Sumerford also notes that there has been an increased need for financial assistance to help residents pay their utility bills. And, more people are looking for food assistance. In addition to Potter’s House Community Kitchen, there is also a Food Pantry. Families can visit once per week for groceries. There is no need to make an appointment for food however, appointments are required for financial assistance.
Get Involved With Greensboro Urban Ministry
If you and your family or friends would like to volunteer at Greensboro Urban Ministry, they have information and a sign-up form on their website. You can also contact GUM’s Volunteer Coordinator, Gail Gore-Lewis at (336) 271-5959, extension 305. Also, you can make a donation online.
If you are looking for help with your business telephone, you can contact Carolina Digital Phone at (336) 544-4000.