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5 things I learned while volunteering at Urban Ministry Center

You’ve perhaps heard about the Urban Ministry Center, one of several non-profits in town fighting to end homelessness. It’s an incredible place making a big impact on Charlotte. Here’s what you should know about this key partner:

Robert Lahser

1. It’s not a “homeless shelter.”

Urban Ministry Center is a day center in uptown, down N. College Street. It is open from 8:30-4:30 M-F for basic services and offer a hot lunch daily from 11:15-12:15. It also offers basic needs: laundry, showers, mail, phone, dental services, nurses, transportation and counseling and support groups.

2. It allows homeless neighbors to get mail delivered there.

Being able to receive mail and have an address is essential for anyone applying for a job, trying to get a driver’s license, etc. More than 1,200 people receive their mail at UMC. This is one of the areas that need the most volunteers, because sorting 1,200 people’s mail can be quite the task.

3. It has an art program.

Robert Lahser

When we did our tour, I remember being amazed at the artwork on the walls. There are some incredibly talented people who can create and sell their art through center.

Urban Ministry also offers running, soccer and voice programs.

John D. Simmons
4. It has a community garden.

The garden is 3,000 square feet and has a plethora of fruits and veggies. I was surprised to learn that not only is the produce used for lunches at UMC, but they’re also available to neighbors and shared with Friendship Trays and Common Grounds Farm Stand.

5. It serves a hot lunch every day.

I love UMC’s statement regarding lunch: “We serve a hot, nutritious lunch 365 days a year, even in the face of terrible weather and ever-increasing demand. With a 35-year history, it remains the largest, oldest Charlotte soup kitchen. We welcome anyone who is in need of a meal, regardless of the person’s circumstance, with no questions asked.”

Adam Jennings Adam Jennings

Bagged lunches had been provided by a local school on the day that I volunteered. There were two sandwiches, a piece of fruit and a cookie per bag. Since UMC always provides a hot lunch, they also prepared a huge pot of soup.

When I volunteered there, we worked on tilling the garden, planting vegetables and watering what was already planted before serving lunch to more than 300 people. Those two things took up our entire four hours of volunteering.

Everyone was welcoming, polite and grateful for our assistance that day – including the neighbors.

Are you ready to help end homelessness in Charlotte? UMC accepts donations (tax deductible!) and would love to have you come volunteer or donate drinks to be served with lunch. Go to

Ashleigh White
Ashleigh White