After more than seven years at the helm, Sunnyside Ministry’s executive director Tommy Cole will retire in June. During his tenure, Sunnyside Ministry which helps thousands of people in Winston-Salem each year, grew and expanded into a valued community organization and an important outreach of the Moravian Church.
As an agency of the Southern Province Board of Cooperative Ministries, Sunnyside Ministry provides emergency assistance for life’s basic necessities to families in southern Forsyth and northern Davidson Counties in North Carolina. In 2014 alone, Sunnyside conducted 7,679 interviews with clients seeking assistance. The ministry provided nearly $1.9 million worth of services to clients in crisis, including groceries for families consisting of more than 17,000 people and clothes for families of more than 15,000 people. Today, Sunnyside operates with dedicated volunteers from more than 60 churches of all denominations.
“Under Tommy’s leadership, we have a remodeled facility, a place that offers confidentiality for clients seeking assistance, a food pantry and a clothes shop to help those in need,” says Mallie Graham, president of the program board at Sunnyside. “Tommy has been a blessing to our ministry as he always sought and worked for the best interest of our clients. His heart for the needy in our charge is bigger than big!”
Ruth Cole Burcaw, executive director of the Board of Cooperative Ministries, agrees, “Tommy’s vision is only exceeded by his heart. During his tenure with Sunnyside, he has been instrumental in its transformation from a modest Moravian mission operation to a life-changing ecumenical and community ministry. Even as he completes this phase of his service, Tommy’s light will continue to shine through the corners of Sunnyside Ministry and Winston-Salem for years to come.”
“Tommy has always displayed a professional and caring position to everyone who encounters Sunnyside Ministry,” said Monica McLaughlin, Sunnyside board member. “I can tell by his example that he applies the principles of God within his everyday life and as a volunteer. I experienced firsthand the Fruit of the Spirit that he exhibited each time I came to the center.”
And Charles Forrest, coordinator for the Gaining Control program at Sunnyside, added, “I’ve witnessed the reassuring and inspiring leadership of a mature Christian in Tommy. His direction and feedback always springs from the big picture of the love of Jesus Christ. He doesn’t just pray that we will greet each client with warmth and compassion, treat them with dignity and send them on their way knowing the love of Jesus Christ, he does it every day.”
While Tommy’s shoes will be tough to fill, the Board of Cooperative Ministries has begun a search for a new director for Sunnyside Ministry. The Director serves as Sunnyside’s CEO, is responsible for executing its mission, and works to build collaboration and trust between Sunnyside and its key stakeholders necessary to achieve that mission. Sunnyside Ministry, an agency of the Moravian Church in America Southern Province, expresses the love of Christ by providing short-term emergency assistance for life’s basic needs to families who find themselves in crisis situations.
Any and all interested candidates click here to read about Sunnyside, to learn more about the director’s position and to apply. ■
Additional thoughts about Tommy Cole’s work with Sunnyside Ministry
“Tommy is one of the most diligent, caring, and effective leaders I know in the church. His loving spirit and his strong commitment to putting faith into action are a great inspiration and example to many at Home Church and beyond.” The Rev. Rick Sides, pastor, Home Moravian Church
“Tommy’s communication skills coupled with his passion for Sunnyside to carry out its mission to the needy is his greatest service. He was called to Sunnyside to be a servant, and he was.” Joe Burns, Sunnyside Board Member
“I admire Tommy’s ability to complete his job duties at SSM and remain compassionate and focused on our clients. Tommy has worked tirelessly for SSM and the services we provide. He has worked to expand the food pantry and providing a much needed extension of client services thru the Gaining Control program.” Janice Wilson, Sunnyside Board Member
“Tommy had a humble spirit and a deep caring for those who came for help. He would take hot coffee to those assembling on the porch on cold days. In general he loved them and those who volunteered to work at Sunnyside.” Bill McElveen, Sunnyside Board Member
“Tommy is in my opinion a Gentle Giant.” Julia Joyce, Sunnyside Board Member
“Tommy has been diligent in his accountability to the Program Board and to the Moravian Church in general. His monthly financial reports and yearly Fact Sheets are so valuable when talking about the work of Sunnyside – a work that we can proudly proclaim with confidence. He himself humbly accepts very little praise and recognition for any achievements, but the truth is, he is the heart behind Sunnyside.” Becky Cook, Sunnyside Board Member
“Tommy’s Christian faith is exhibited in all that he does and says, showing respect and kindness to our clients and volunteers. He is generous with his time, often working evenings and weekends on behalf of Sunnyside. He is a true disciple of Christ.” Susan Roediger, Assistant Director, Sunnyside Ministry
From the March 2015 Moravian Magazine