United Community Ministries, Inc.

Rating: 4.93 stars   44 reviews

Issues: Children & Youth, Job Training, Human Services

Location: 7511 Fordson Rd Alexandria VA 22306 USA

Mission: UCM''s mission is to assist families and individuals to improve the quality of their lives in a manner that builds their self-reliance and fosters their ability to function at the greatest level of their economic and social capacities.
Programs: * The Bryant Early Learning (BEL) Center, offering quality child care for working parents and instruction in infant care for teenage mothers;* Basic Needs helps people in crisis meet basic needs and learn about resources for long-term self-sufficiency;* Back Porch Thrift Shop, where customers from a variety of economic backgrounds can find affordable bargains and clients can receive a voucher for the items they need;* Work Force Development Center, offers a variety of employment and self-employment services;* Supportive Housing programs offer transitional housing and a variety of housing counseling services; * Healthy Families; child abuse prevention and a child-nurturing program;* Family Renewal, provides a support group to homeless and formerly homeless families;* Youth In Action is designed to provide youth with activities and empowerment while improving the quality of their families' lives through a parent education component.
2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

I have four years experience on the UCM Board and thus a unique opportunity to observe the staff, their effort and the results. UCM is a truly essential to the well being of over 6000 needy residents in this area of Fairfax County. Whether it's the family in need of food or shelter or freedom from domestic abuse UCM is the answer to the desperate. For the newly arrived in the US UCM provides language training , job training and placement to allow the individual to begin to contribute to their new homeland. UCM is deserving of support.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I admire UCM greatly for the services that it provides to so many and for the way it treats its clients with dignity. UCM is a lifesaver and life changer for so many people. I am proud to be associated with it and to tell its story.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 5 stars  

I am so proud to be a part of the UCM Board. The more I understandt the role of this organization in the Route 1 Corridor, the more I realize what a different--and much less livable--community we would be without the safety net provided by UCM. Despite my ever-growing knowledge of UCM, I still do not understand how they do so much with so little. Truly, money donated to UCM goes directly to the purpose for which it is given. Mary E. Mehler

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 5 stars  

While my association with UCM goes back only 15 years, this fantastic charity has been helping families and children for over forty years! It is heartening to know that the children of unwed teenage mothers are getting a head start in our BEL (Bryant Early Learning) Center while their mothers gain life changing skills. And it is uplifting that we are able to distribute over a ton of food every day we are open to families along the Route One corridor. And it is fantastic to see individuals complete our training programs, allowing them to get meaningful employment to help ensure they are on the way to breaking the cycle of poverty that surrounded them. That is UCM as I know it!

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I have been donating money and goods to UCM for years because of the work it does to help feed needy people and help them become self sufficient. This need increased greatly after 9/11 when many local, low-wages were laid off, but UCM stepped up to meet the need. I vowed I would become more active when I retired from government, and now I am on the board. As a board member I have come to appreciate UCM even more because of the wide range of programs it offers to people in crisis and need.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I helped last year with the Holiday gift room and saw personally the joy and appreciation of clients who were able to give their children gifts because of UCM's work.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would want it to spend even more resources on fundraising to be able to be financially secure in the long term, especially with government and foundation grants declining.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I have been aware of UCM services to less fortunate neighbors in the Route 1 Corridor of Fairfax County for many years. Several years ago I decided to become more involved as a volunteer and as a board member.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

... seeing the faces of families who receive food donations

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

...find a way to provide more financial support

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Rating: 5 stars  

My wife and I have been involved with UCM for over fifteen years. She has been a volunteer helping clients with basic needs for all that time and was a board member in the late 1990s. I have helped with food and clothing drives for as many years and was honored to join the board this past year. This is a marvelous full service organization, helping with everything from basic needs to child care to training to get people back into the work force with meaningful jobs. But the task continues to grow, with one in five children now living in poverty. At a time when former donors are now clients, we need all the help we can to care for our fellow friends and neighbors.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

helping in the food pantry and observing the child care center

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Help expand the footprint of donors because the task is so urgent.

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Rating: 5 stars  

UCM is a great community resource for Northern Virginia. My wife and I have been involved with UCM in various capacities over the past decade and we remain as donors and occasional volunteers to support the dedicated staff.Myspecial interest has been in the food pantry, which provides basic nutrition for more than 12,000 persons each year (maybe more in the recent economic downturn). Most of the food pantry services support local families who have a wage-earner but not enough income to cover even their basic needs in this high cost of living area. But the food pantry also offers special help to shut in elderly persons and others with special needs.My wife has been especially involved with the Bryant Early Learning Center.She is a retired educator - teacher, principal and school system admionistrator - and she is enthusiastic about the child development services (not just day care) provided by Bryant. It truly gives children from lower income families a head start into the educational world.

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

I became involved with UCM through my wife. She was a public school administrator and found that UCM's child development program enabled some 15 to 20 young low income women annually to complete their high school education while being confident that their infants and young children werepppcared for professionally and protectively. I subsequently became a volunteer in the food pantry which provides subsistence and nourishment to more than 10,000 persons every year. And from there I became a board member and officer. I have seen women who were victims of domestic violence remake their lives ( and their children's) through UCM's programs. I have seen parents leave in tearful gratitude because UCM provided the clothes and toys they needed ot give their children a good Christmas. And I have seen clients with poor working skills and little or no employment history gain basic skills through UCM's programs that enabled them to be employed and move towards self-sufficiency. UCM's contributions to the health and welfare of our neighbors and our community is beyond any valuing.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

See the comments above. I have seen desperate families receive food, rental assistance, secure housing, child care adn many other benefits which gave them hope for their future and made progress towards independence and self sufficiency.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Build a stronger donor base to be able to maintain and improve services, especially in times of economic distress, as we have experienced recently.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

How did you learn about this organization?

See opening comment above. Through my wife's professional experience with UCM's child development program.

What is this organization's top short-term priority?

Serving families and individualswho are desperately in need of immediate assistance for food, utilities, medical care, child care.

What is its top priority in the long run?

Serving clients and enabling them to be indeppendent and have hope for the future for themselves and their children. From an organizational perspective, building a broader and deeper financial base to support its many community programs.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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Rating: 5 stars  

I am recent addition to UCM's Board of Directors. But in my 25 years of development banking, rarely did I see an institution that is both so strategically focused on its mission of helping people in need, and so efficient and transaparent in delivering its services. Whatever you do for UCM, you know it will immediately translate into concrete assistance for a client family. Whether you volunteer in, donate to, or attend UCM's activities, your effort has a direct, positive impact on someone's life. Those unique institutional qualities are showing in the superb way UCM has reacted to the current economic down-turn. It is assisting a record number of clients—some 13,000 of them. Its emergency food, shelter and utility connection programs are operating at maximum capacity. Educational and self-help initiatives are fully, and sometimes over, subscribed. More than ever before, federal, state and county governments count on UCM's help to reach the most vulnerable. Its staff are generously giving up their personal time and its volunteer force is deployed in its entirety. While we are proud of UCM’s many achievements in this special period, continue to learn from our experience, and constantly seek new opportunities to enhance our efficiency and effectiveness, we know that there are many families still hurting. Fairfax County reports that some two thousand people remain homeless in the area, forty percent of which are children. And the consensus forecast is for the economy’s recovery to be slow, protracted and mostly jobless. In other words, for the poor, the next two to three years will not be much different from today. So, if you ever wanted to extend a hand to the hungry, the homeless and the hopeless among us, this is the time to do it. And UCM is a wonderful vehicle to channel your support.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The way client families have expressed their gratitude for UCM's support. To them, UCM is the last safety-net.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Secure a large donor platform on which to scale up the services that UCM delivers, especially while the economy remains stagnant and jobs remain scarce.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

How did you learn about this organization?

Friends.

What is this organization's top short-term priority?

Emergency food and shelter.

What is its top priority in the long run?

Employability and independence of those currently in material need.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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