The last five years has been an economic hurricane in Guilford County. Although many have begun to recover from the Great Recession, thousands of others in our area continue to suffer through very hard times and remain on the brink of extreme poverty. Guilford County’s unemployment rate still hovers slightly below 10%, several points higher than the national rate and twice the county’s rate in 2007. This number does not even include people who work multiple part-time jobs or people who have given up trying to find work. A Gallup poll conducted last year ranked the Greensboro-High Point region fourth nationally among metropolitan areas facing high food insecurity. Food stamp applications in Guilford County are at an all-time high, and a growing number of schoolchildren in our area are homeless. In the 2012—2013 school year, over 2000 children in the Guilford County Schools had experienced homelessness.
For almost fifty years, Greensboro Urban Ministry (GUM) has provided emergency assistance to Guilford County residents in times of financial crisis. The last five years have been extremely challenging at GUM because of the recession. That high demand was compounded in 2013, when GUM also became a first responder for families who suffered from several breakdowns in the administration of the federal SNAP program (food stamps) and the North Carolina legislature’s decision to reduce the amount and duration of unemployment benefits. GUM has always been committed to providing assistance to the needy as its resources permit, but need is growing. While the Great Recession continues to impact many Guilford County residents substantially more than elsewhere in the nation, our government aid and charitable support have not been enough to meet the basic needs of those affected.
That’s why we and other supporters of GUM have recently created the Sustainers Society of Greensboro Urban Ministry. The Sustainers Society is a group of contributors who have committed to monthly financial support for GUM and its vital work. We hope that this reliable and continued support will counteract the economic and political turmoil than have been so devastating to the full recovery of our community from the recession. Monthly pledges through the Sustainers Society can be in any amount and can be fulfilled through bank drafts, credit cards, or checks. It is a simple idea, but the commitments of the Sustainers Society will ensure GUM’s financial stability and enhance our ability to address our community’s needs.
GUM’s mission is to express the love of God to people in need through practical action in the Greater Greensboro area. Many of us have been blessed to be able to help in this extraordinary task. Please join us in sustaining the good work of Greensboro Urban Ministry!