About Our Organization
The resurgence of Greenville’s downtown reflects the growth and prosperity of our community. Located in downtown’s West End, United Ministries has been working for 45 years to give every member of our community the opportunity to enjoy and participate in this prosperity. Originally established by local congregations to meet the crisis needs of people living in poverty, our agency has evolved to focus on developing the potential each family possesses to become self-sufficient – and even to thrive.
As a result, United Ministries now attracts broad support from local and national foundations, United Way, congregations, local businesses, and generous individuals – stakeholders who are interested in investing in solutions that address root problems and make a lasting impact, rather than in providing temporary aid. Our volunteer-driven programs focus on employment, education, and financial wellness, providing the opportunities and support that families need in order to achieve financial stability and to fully participate in the community. The key to our success is a comprehensive approach that eliminates the need to refer families back and forth between agencies. Instead, United Ministries offers an array of services (see below) in one location, where a single team of compassionate professionals provides seamless, multi-focused care personalized to each family’s circumstances. Working together with our volunteers and community partners, we are able to change lives.
United Ministries impacts the community through the following programs and services. (All programs are free.)
Employment Readiness: The keystone program of the agency, Employment Readiness puts individuals on the path to financial stability by developing the employability, financial, and personal effectiveness skills needed to obtain quality employment. Staff and volunteers provide group instruction, computer and resume assistance, mock interviews, job training sponsorship (e.g., CNA , CDL, A+/Networking, etc.), WorkKeys testing, and job search assistance. Most importantly, long-term one-on-one coaching relationships are established to assist individuals as they address all of the potential barriers that impact employability: transportation, child care, mental health, substance abuse, etc.
• In the last two years, 401 individuals completed employability skills classes;
• 96 individuals completed technical job training;
• 153 individuals earned a WorkKeys-based CRC; and
• 432 individuals gained employment.
Adult Education: The Adult Education Program provides academic assistance and support for individuals preparing to take the GED exam. A drop-in model enables students to attend whenever their transportation, employment schedule, and child care permits, allowing sustained academic progress even for students living in difficult circumstances. Volunteer tutors work one-on-one with each student as they implement a personalized academic plan, while staff provide the additional support that makes academic success possible.
• In the last five years, 1,453 individuals have passed the GED exam and earned a High School Equivalency Diploma, making it possible for them to enroll in college and find quality employment.
Financial Stabilization: This program is designed to keep working people working. If the stability of one of our participant families is threatened by an unexpected event, this program intervenes with targeted financial assistance and intensive case management to ensure that employment is retained. Whether it’s a house fire, a medical emergency, the loss of a working spouse, or a major car repair, our staff develop and implement a plan to support the family until stability is reestablished.
• In the last two years, 61 families have been stabilized, preserving employment and the families’ ability to be self-sufficient moving forward.
Matched Savings & Emergency Micro-Loans: These new programs provide working families with financial tools designed to develop saving habits and to offer alternatives to predatory loans. The Matched Saving Program provides a 1-to-1 match for the first $500 deposited into an emergency savings fund. Monthly required deposits of $20 extend over a 24 month period during which saving habits are formed. The Emergency Loan Program offers low-interest (4%) microloans to approved working families in crisis who might otherwise take out payday loans. Payments are made on a flexible schedule controlled by our case managers, and a portion of each payment is placed into an emergency savings fund that transfers to the family upon full repayment of the loan.
• In the three months since the Matched Saving Program launched, over 25 families have enrolled and are making monthly deposits. The Emergency Loan Program has just launched, and the first potential participants are currently being evaluated.
VITA and Benefit Bank: Families working toward financial independence need every resource available to them. The Benefit Bank identifies any public benefits that a family may be eligible for (including SNAP, Medicaid/Medicare, Veterans’ Benefits, and more) and helps the family complete and submit the necessary applications. VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) provides free tax return preparation for low-income families.
• In the last two years, 97 families have been connected with public benefits, and over 1,000 tax returns have been filed, resulting in $1.3 million in refunds returned to the community.
Emergency Assistance: Direct aid – including rent, utility, food, and medication assistance – is provided to families in crisis, with priority given to households with seniors, infants, and disabled persons. In order to promote self-sufficiency, unemployed adults who are employable are provided one-time assistance before being invited and required to successfully participate in our Employment Readiness Program.
• In the last three years, 9,288 families have been provided food;
• 5,367 families have been provided rent or utility assistance; and
• 312 individuals have been provided medication assistance in a time of financial crisis.
Place of Hope: The Place of Hope is a day-shelter for homeless people, providing a safe haven where individuals can access showers, restrooms, laundry facilities, lockers, and public phones. Most importantly, individuals can work with case managers who specialize in the issues that frequently contribute to homelessness: mental illness, substance abuse, criminal background, lack of documentation, and many more. By providing patient and skilled care, case managers are able to successfully accompany homeless individuals along the journey toward having a permanent home.
• In the last three years, the Place of Hope was visited 39,112 times;
• 12,953 showers were taken;
• 220 stranded individuals were transported to a home in another town/state; and
• 69 homeless individuals were placed into permanent housing.
Ultimately, it is the purposeful integration of all of these services that maximizes the collective impact of our work. By requiring employable adults who seek crisis aid to participate in our Employment Readiness Program, we discourage dependency on charity and promote the dignity of work. By accessing resources from our Emergency Assistance Program, Place of Hope case managers are able to turn on utilities in the new home of a formerly homeless person. By using Financial Stabilization to address a threat to employment, the Adult Education staff can preserve the stability that a student needs to continue preparing for the GED exam. By providing all of these services with one staff at one location, families are able to develop long-term trusting relationships with their counselors – relationships that sustain them on the arduous path to financial stability.
The cumulative impact is this: Families obtain the dignity and life-sustaining wages of employment. Local employers have more dependable, skilled, and productive employees. Children have more stable households, allowing them to thrive. Families become self-sufficient, so they no longer need charity or public benefits. Community volunteers are provided a meaningful way to contribute to the well-being of their neighbors. And all families are provided the opportunity to participate in Greenville’s prosperity.