Homeless Action Group
The Homeless Action Group works in partnership with Urban Ministries of Durham to provide support for homeless and low-income individuals in Durham, NC.
The ERUUF/Urban Ministries Homeless Action Partnership is one way in which ERUUFians live their faith by serving our low income and homeless neighbors. The work that we do helps change lives through the dedicated service and financial contributions of our members. The programs at Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD) is only possible because of the work of volunteers. UMD relies on over 2000 volunteer hours each month to provide housing, clothing and food. Each year over 200 ERUUF members and friends volunteer at the homeless shelter to support the various programs of UMD.
People we work with at UMD are as diverse by ethnicity, gender and age as the rest of our society. Twenty percent are veterans and ten percent are children. Many were employed until illness, family circumstances or the economic recession cost them their jobs and the roof over their heads. Some are working their way out of addictions. The shelter provides all of them a safe place where they can worry less about day to day survival and can focus on improving their lives long-term.
Before the meal each time we serve we say this prayer which summarizes what we are doing at the Shelter:
I invite you all to join in this prayer - in this community of friends and strangers.
May we be grateful for the hands that picked the crops, grateful for all the people who made this meal possible and grateful for this fellowship which nourishes our spirits, as well as our bodies.
May we eat this food as an act of faith. Faith in ourselves, faith in one another and faith in life.
May we commit ourselves to always act with kindness. And, may we each pledge to do what we can to make this world a better place - knowing that we are not alone, but in this community together.
Current Volunteer and Donation Opportunities
Meal Service at the Community Café:
Twice a month, teams of 7-9 ERUUFians prepare and serve the evening meal at the Community Café at UMD for shelter residents and low income members of the community. This has been a great opportunity for us to build community while providing a nourishing meal. This is an ideal service project for groups and families with children 11 or older. This is also a great opportunity to meet other ERUUFians if you are new to the Fellowship.
We cook the first Sunday and the second Saturday of each month starting at 4:00 PM. We generally finish up around 7:00 pm. We serve a cafeteria style dinner to about 150 - 200 folks. You don’t need any prior experience and no cleanup/dishwashing is involved!
Life Skills Tutoring:
UMD offers a 6 month live-in drug and alcohol rehabilitation program which provides for recovery in a structured and supportive environment and ultimately empowers participants to manage their illness, maintain sobriety, improve health and wellness, and move to self-sufficiency. A significant part of the program is a life skills class which meets every Monday afternoon for 15-weeks. The Life Skills course covers employment, health and personal finance with topics such as resume writing, interviewing, eating healthy, smoking cessation, managing your finances and avoiding credit troubles. Volunteers from ERUUF teach these classes every Monday afternoon for an hour. Many of those in recovery attribute their successful transition to learning life skills in these classes.
Food Lion Pick-Up:
UMD receives donated food from Food Lion on Guess Road each week. ERUUF has been providing the labor to make this happen. ERUUFians go every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday to Food Lion on Guess Road in the morning and pick up food and transport it to the Shelter. These daily loads average 100 pounds of produce, bread and deli products. Often the donated food goes right on the serving line to feed residents and members of the community. The success of the first Sunday and second Saturday meal depend on these fresh vegetables, fruit and bread which we use as part of our meal and reduce our food costs.
Clothing Closet and Food Pantry:
UMD operates the Community Food Pantry and Clothing Closet to address basic emergency needs for food, clothing and hygiene supplies for the homeless and low income members of our community. Many people who are not yet homeless use the Pantry and Closet to stretch limited resources. Volunteers assisting guests watch for signs that a family is in danger of becoming homeless and provide referrals to case managers and financial assistance providers for additional support.
Each year the Food Pantry distributes over 100,000 pounds of food and the Clothing Closet distributes over 50,000 articles of clothing. In an average month, UMD assists over 500 households in the Food Pantry and Clothing Closet.
ERUUFians staff the Food Pantry every Wednesday and the second Thursday of the month. We staff the Clothing Closet every Monday, Wednesday and the second Thursday of the month. During a shift from 9:00 - 11:00 AM, volunteers greet the clients, make them feel welcomed and respected and assist in filling orders and bagging their food and clothing.
Holiday Wrapping Party:
In December, we hold our annual wrapping party. Each year ERUUFians donate socks, underwear, hats, gloves, toys and wrapping paper. On the day of the party, the children, with help from parents and volunteers, wrap presents for the residents at the Shelter. The children also bake cookies to fuel the volunteers and take to the Shelter for the evening meal. Each year ERUUF donates over 300 wrapped gifts for the residents at the Shelter during the holiday season.
Casserole and Cookie Chefs:
Each month ERUUFians make casseroles and cookies which we deliver and serve as part of the first Sunday meal. By donating the cost of these healthy casseroles and delicious cookies, the ERUUF chefs help expand our role at the shelter and stretch our food budget. We use a standard recipe for the casseroles and encourage creativity with the cookies. Instructions for baking casseroles or cookies.
Each year, ERUUFians do special projects at UMD. These can include projects like painting the Clothing Closet, renovating the bathrooms in the Community Building or refurbishing a room for a family in the Shelter. These projects are great for team building for Covenant groups, Neighborhood Circles, or just a group of members to get together and spend a day working at the Shelter to improve the facilities and the lives of the people we serve.
Donations to the Food Pantry and Clothing Closet:
The food, clothing and hygiene items that are given to our homeless and low income neighbors at UMD are donated by people from the community. ERUUF collects these items in the office and volunteers take them to the Shelter. Inside the ERUUF office door to the left are baskets and space to leave non-perishable food items, clothing and hygiene items.
Items often in short supply in the Pantry include: canned fish, chicken, Spam, stew or chili. Also, the Pantry needs powdered milk, peanut butter, cereals and canned fruit and vegetables. The Pantry is always in need of personal hygiene items such as deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, shaving cream, shampoo, feminine products, soap and toilet paper.
The Closet is always in need of men's clothing, children's clothing and winter coats, gloves and scarves.