UW Sunday Column 8-24-14: Committed to meeting basic community needs

Cindy Drum
As originally published in the State Journal-Register, Our Towns section

Cindy DrumIt is that time of year again, back to school.

I was in the store getting groceries, and there it was … the display for back-to-school supplies. How is it that the summer goes by so fast?

I was struck by a mom who was going over the required supply list and telling her son that they could not afford the newest and latest binder.

It made me think of Kendra, one of the moms who now stays in our Transitional Shelter with her six children, five of whom need school supplies, backpacks and new tennis shoes all before school starts.

Back to school can be an exciting time for kids but going back to school not knowing if you will have what you need to start school or more importantly where you will sleep each night is scary.

Kendra is a mom who came to Contact Ministries Emergency Shelter with nowhere to go with her six children. She was staying with a family member who got evicted and moved away, leaving her and her children homeless. They came to our Emergency Shelter with only the clothes on their backs. They stayed for about a week and then were able to move into our long-term transitional shelter.

She is attending our daily life skill classes while her children are in our summer program. As they head back to school, we at Contact Ministries want to make sure they have everything they need: uniforms, school supplies, required physicals and the confidence and security of knowing they have a safe, warm place to come home to.

Contact Ministries is committed to meeting basic needs in our community.

What do you do when you don’t know where you and your children will lay your heads that night or where your next meal will come from? What do you do when you are working hard to get back on your feet and find employment but you don’t have the right interview clothes? What do you do when you can’t afford your vital medication? For these reasons and more, Contact Ministries was founded by five churches in 1978 to help those who are in crisis and in need in Springfield and the surrounding area.

Contact Ministries is open daily to the public to anyone with a need. We see anywhere from 700-1,000 individuals on a monthly basis by providing food assistance through food vouchers to local pantries, clothing and household items at no cost, rent, utility, prescription assistance (when funding is available). We also give Thanksgiving baskets and provide Christmas for over 2,300 people every year.

In November 1993, Contact Ministries saw a great need for a shelter for women and children in Sangamon County. We expanded our services by opening a Transitional Shelter with 36 beds for homeless women and children.

We meet their daily needs while they live with us, providing life-changing classes and training which empowers them to live independently. It is our hope that through the teaching, training and support that the mothers will be able to create a stable life for themselves and their family.

In November 2013, Contact Ministries further expanded by opening our Emergency Shelter with an additional 34 beds for homeless single women and women with children of any age. This shelter provides a safe haven to stabilize women and families in crisis.

Contact Ministries would like to thank the individuals, businesses, churches and agencies for supporting and partnering with us for over 36 years as we work together to meet the needs of those who live in our community.

Cindy Drum is the executive director at Contact Ministries. Look for United Way columns weekly in Our Towns.

Read the column as originally published in the SJ-R:http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140823/News/140829787