Urban Ministries of Raleigh is a volunteer-intensive, nonprofit organization founded in 1980 to address the unmet needs of the poorest citizens in Wake County, North Carolina. Originally founded and supported by local churches to provide emergency food and financial relief to low-income residents of Wake County, Urban Ministries has grown to become a major provider of human services in the community.
Under the umbrella of Urban Ministries are four major programs: the Crisis Intervention Program, the Ark Shelter, the Open Door Clinic and the Community Mental Health Clinic. The programs help a total of approximately 6,000 people per year. The backbone of the organization is the active volunteer participation. Close to 1,000 professional and lay volunteers donate more than 36,000 hours of time each year providing direct services to the program's clients.
The Crisis Intervention Program, begun in 1981, offers financial assistance for rent and utilities to families, the disabled and elderly to prevent eviction and homelessness. The food pantry and prescription assistance components provide emergency food and medicines. Last year, they provided emergency relief to 3,482 households. Approximately 25 volunteers work with this program.
The Ark Shelter, opened in 1984, provides short-term housing and support services to 40 homeless adults each day. Last year the shelter assisted 549 homeless men and women with housing and services. Two social workers on staff provide professional case management during the day and evening. In addition, volunteers cook, deliver and serve all weekly evening meals and breakfasts on the weekends. Volunteers also lead all life skills training programs which are conducted four evenings a week for shelter residents. Approximately 450 volunteers are involved in this program.
The Open Door Clinic, started in 1985, is a free medical and dental program for people without health insurance. Both acute care and chronic disease care are available four evenings a week. Other services include preventive dental care, dental care for pain and infection and laboratory services. The clinic treated approximately 3,000 patients last year. Close to 400 volunteers work in the clinic or offer voluntary medical services in their private offices.
The Community Mental Health Clinic, the newest program, was incorporated in August 1996. The clinic provides the uninsured with access to free, short-term, family-oriented counseling. About 20 volunteer mental health professionals offer counseling in a downtown church that is donating its space one evening per week. Currently, more than 20 patients are in active treatment.
Additional volunteers serve as members of the board of directors, development committee, clinic advisory committees and other committees of the board.