Urban Ministries of Durham's annual Rebuilding Lives Breakfast is always one of the year's most moving events.
People, like ex-Marine Kenneth Smith, who suffers from PTSD and turned to drugs and alcohol to cope, tell of how Urban Ministries changed their lives.
Kenneth despaired before the folks at Urban Ministries and, he was quick to add, his mother joined forces to first get him out of immediate crisis, then give him the skills to land a job and, well, rebuild his life. He now works as a cook at Dame's Chicken & Waffles and is optimistic about the future.
For his courage overcoming serious obstacles, serving our country and sharing his story in front of the hundreds packed into the Durham Convention Center, Kenneth got a standing ovation.
The entire organization deserves a round of applause for the creative ways it has remained financially solid during tough economic times, which pose a double whammy for charities like UMD in the form of scarcer resrources and increased demand.
UMD saw a $67,000 increase in net assets in the most recent fiscal year compared to the year before all while providing the following services, among others:
• 48,582 nights of emergency shelter to 1,299 clients;
• Helped 177 people end their homelessness;
• Served 230,500 meals;
• Distributed food and clothing to more than 400 households every month.
UMD counts on volunteers. Last year more than 4,000 lent their time. The organization also relies heavily on individual donations, which last year amounted to almost $400,000.
Events like the breakfast and a recent fundraiser at Magpie Boutique help raise money and, quite often, inspire people to volunteer as well.
"We had a lot of Magpie's regular customers who wanted to learn about UMD and shop for the cause," says UMD board member Sophia Caudle, who helped organize the Magpie event. "We even enlisted a few new volunteers to serve dinner at UMD."
Magpie owner Po-Ming Wong and Sophia are planning a similar fundraiser in the spring. Click on the slideshow for a few pics!