As you can see, the billboard says, “1 in 5 kids faces hunger.” This is the sign displayed by FEEDING AMERICA, and I see it each day as I travel into Winston-Salem. It is haunting, especially when we are told that 26 percent of the children in our area go to bed hungry at night. This is an astounding fact.
I am grateful for Sunnyside Ministry of the Southern Province and the work they do to battle this problem. I am sure there are agencies in many of your communities that do similar work as we do at Sunnyside.
Sunnyside Ministry provides emergency assistance for life’s basic necessities to families living in southeastern Forsyth County and northern Davidson County, North Carolina. We do our work with the aid of more than 200 volunteers and a very fine staff of four.
Our director, Br. Tommy Cole, has led us down new avenues. We use our space better. He and the staff find grants to assist in funding. He has encouraged us to find ways to enhance all of our programs and start a new one, “Gaining Control,” led by Br. Charles Forrest.
Sunnyside Ministry operates with a small staff and a twelve-member Program Board. Our other staff members are Susan Roediger, assistant director; Jonathan Barnes, administrative assistant; and Tim Adams who tends our pantry. Provincially, we work under the Board of Cooperative Ministries.
Our agency has been here since 1978. It began as a small storefront location, at the time under the direction of Trinity Moravian Church, to help needy people in crisis situations. Today, we are in a free-standing small building in the same area.
In 2013, the value of our assistance was $1,805,225, including in-kind donations. This is for electricity, food, clothing and household goods, natural gas, fuel, rent/mortgage, water and a scholarship program. In season, many people share in fresh vegetables from their gardens. Our grocery bags went out to families feeding more than 18,000 people. Monday through Friday (except holidays) volunteers make this all happen.
Some years ago Sunnyside Ministry established a Scholarship Program for college students who live in our targeted area. The first funds came to us in a bequest to support the program. Using 2013 information we had 13 scholars in college and each had received a laptop computer as freshmen and two returned to Sunnyside as summer interns. These scholarships are renewable for the four years of college. We have a committee who interviews and chooses students from applications. The recognized Financial Aid program of colleges and universities is used.
Our most recent adventure is our “Gaining Control” program. How do we help some of our clients break the cycle of the need for financial assistance? Br. Charles Forrest has worked to develop and lead these classes. It is a one year program consisting of about 24 hours of class time meeting twice a week for 2 hour classes and then a five month follow-up. Some of the topics discussed are budgets, emergency savings, major purchases and long-term savings. We even assist in starting a “rainy day” savings account. We have had 40 complete the class with two more graduations before the end of the year. It is a beginning with heartwarming stories of success.
The funding that helps make Sunnyside Ministry function comes from individuals, youth groups, Sunday School classes women’s and men’s fellowships, Moravian churches, other denominations, the CROP WALK, civic clubs and grants prepared by our staff to businesses and foundations. The great concern at the moment is that a local foundation making our largest contribution is changing its focus. We will be losing most of that grant money as will other agencies such as ours. We are seeking ways to fill in this huge gap of over $100,000.
“1 in 5 kids faces hunger”! We are trying to change that statistic. We ask for your prayers and support especially now that cold days are ahead. We ask that you become a volunteer. To God be the Glory for Sunnyside Ministry and other agencies throughout the church who answer this call to serve. ■
Mallie Graham, president of the Sunnyside Ministry Program Board and a member of Home Moravian Church, Winston-Salem. Photos by John Dyer, a member of Home Moravian Church.