From Urban Kids

Year-End Celebrations and New Staff!!

Our Red DoorTHANK YOU to all who made contributions to our ministry in 2014. You helped us raise our largest total annual income on record: $863,575. Yes, we have been singing the Doxology and giving thanks to God for the bounty that enables us to continue with programs of Compassion for Today and Wholeness for Tomorrow! We look forward to sharing more exciting news in the weeks to come and hope that you’ll let us know how we can be of further service to you and your organization, congregation, corporation/business.

We also give thanks for the following Foundation gifts received as 2014 closed and 2015 began:

SAIL (Summer Adventures in Learning) via Alabama Power Foundation, Joseph S. Bruno Charitable Trust, Mike and Gillian Goodrich Foundation, The Caring Foundation of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, and The Daniel Foundation of Alabama:
$30,000 for Urban Kids Summer Learning Camp

Butler Snow Foundation:
$15,000 for WE Community Gardens, Emergency Food Pantry, and Urban Community Cafe and Jr. Chef Interns Program

The Daniel Foundation of AL:
$15,000 for WE Community Gardens, Emergency Food Pantry, & Urban Community Cafe and Jr. Chef Interns Program

Whole Cities Foundation (Whole Foods):
$4,800 for WE Community Gardens, Urban Community Cafe, and Jr. Chef Interns

Independent Presbyterian Church Foundation:
$5,000 for Wellness Programs

North AL Conference UMC Missions Resource Team:
$7,000 for Joe Rush Center for Urban Mission

The Gratitude Foundation:
$5,000 for Wellness Programs

UAB’s One Great Community CHIA (Community Health Innovation Awards):
$12,500 for Urban Community Cafe and Jr. Chef Interns Program

And for an unexpected, and very significant gift from the Estate of Ellen Hodges Powell, we give thanks that in her passing she has enabled us to strengthen and grow our programs here in the West End Community of Birmingham and well beyond.

But wait…we have more! In January, we welcomed 3 outstanding, new staff members to our Urban Ministry Team:

Lisa Jones is our Director of Development and Communications. She brings a wealth of experience in marketing, fundraising, and non-profit management to us, having worked with Baptist Health System’s former SportsFirst, and then many successful years at the YMCA of Birmingham. She is a longtime member at Trinity UMC (Homewood), where she remains active as a leader.

Wanda Larosiliere is our Director of Urban Kids. She brings a wealth of experience as a former Birmingham City Schools math/science teacher, corporate executive, and has Masters degrees in the Sciences. Wanda has been a longtime friend of WE Community Gardens and Urban Ministry, and she has a heart for children and young people and for Urban Ministry’s mission and vision.

McKinzie Harrison is our new Chef Instructor working closely with Ama Shambulia, Wellness Director, on our upcoming Urban Community Cafe. She will instruct our Jr Chef Interns regarding all things Culinary. McKinzie was trained as a Chef in California, where she also served as a Chef Instructor, and has a wealth of knowledge to share. She is also the niece of our beloved Church without Walls’ “Ms. Ernestine” Washington, and she also supports their ministry via meals served at each of 4 weekly worship times.

We do not rest but have already been hard at work in 2015 to deepen and expand Compassion and Wholeness in this part of God’s kingdom. We covet your support – your gifts, your prayers, your action – and look forward to another exciting year!

Together We Make a Difference

Tomatoes in Palm“I am thankful for my life and for this community!” said one of our Urban Kids with confidence and excitement.  Her words resonate for each of us, especially during this season of thanks and generous giving.

With your help, our programs are making a lasting difference for all of us:

  • Urban Kids serves 30 children in After School and Summer Learning Programs, where our children gained 8-10 months average in reading and math skills!
  • Together we celebrated with Community Church without Walls the high school graduation of our largest number of students: 19 young people, 14 of whom had their start with Urban Kids.
  • Community Kitchen served more than 14,500 meals, and we celebrated our beloved “Ms. Belle” as she retired after 31 years of cooking and sharing hope.
  • Emergency Food Pantry has served more than 250 families during crisis and will continue to meet many needs through December 19.
  • Our new Monday-Tuesday Crisis Intervention and Snack Bagshas served more than 480 persons since October 1.  We’ll expand to a Wellness Hospitality Time in 2015, increasing health and wellness among our most vulnerable guests and neighbors, especially the homeless and near homeless.
  • Homelessness Prevention, Rapid Re-housing, & Street Outreach has assisted more than 206 people to permanent or transitional housing, medical care, food resources, and referrals to stabilization.
  • Beeson Senior Services & Senior Emergency Assistance has served more than 500 seniors with utility/rent assistance and case management.
  • WE Community Gardens has sold or gifted more than 10,000 pounds of fresh produce to our community, engaged 900+ people in healthy eating and healthy living programs, and employed 4 area young people.
  • Joe Rush Center for Urban Mission’s 679 volunteers (most of them young people) painted 22 houses and built relationships with the 41 family members.  Many more homeowners (most of them vulnerable seniors) await their exterior house paintings.

We need your financial support to finish 2014 strong. And we have exciting plans for deepening sustainability, community empowerment and transformation, healthy eating and healthy living in 2015 in our West End Community and beyond.

Like our Urban Kids, we give thanks for all you have done in the past and ask you to give again so we can continue to respond with compassion and wholeness.

Peace and Blessings,



Rev. Melissa Self Patrick, Executive Director

July Thank You

Duke volunteers, Spring 2014“Hey! Rev. Melissa, are we going to Camp Sumatanga this summer?!” From last January until May, this is the excited question I heard from Thomas, one of our Urban Kids, every time he saw me. Like the consistency of his eager question, my enthusiastic response to him never wavered, “Yes! All the Urban Kids are going to Sumatanga this summer!” On the other side of the generational aisle, Rush Program Director, Danny Jones, is frequently asked by many senior adults, “Will y’all be able to paint my house this year?” And he’s able to respond to approximately thirty (30) of the hopeful homeowners, “Yes! We will be painting your house this summer. Let’s schedule a visit so you can pick out your colors!”

Through your generous financial support of Urban Ministry, you are one of the reasons we are able to answer our community’s questions with a resounding, “Yes!” On behalf of all of our Urban Kids who are enjoying our Summer Learning Program, and all the senior adults and disabled persons whose homes we’ve painted thus far, thank you for your generous gifts of support. Because of you, the needs and hopes of vulnerable people are being met.

Because of you, our neighbors in the West End Community of Birmingham and well beyond are experiencing the hands and feet, the body of Christ, and we are all more whole because of our relationships. Thank you for your faithful commitment and for taking the time to make a difference in the lives of children, senior adults, and everyone in between.

And because your gift came during our Summer Matching Campaign, it will be matched dollar for dollar (up to $40,000). We are right in the middle of our Campaign and hope you will help us spread the word about this great opportunity to meet our goal of $80,000 this summer.

While there’s still plenty of summer remaining, we want to go ahead and invite you to SAVE the DATE: Thursday, September 11, at The Club, beginning at 5:30 p.m. for this year’s Table of Hope. We are excited that Barbara Dooley, regional humorist, storyteller, businesswoman and wife of the former Georgia Bulldogs football coach, will be our guest entertainment for the evening. She will inspire us with her stories of life and faith, and she will leave us laughing! For more information, visit

Peace and gratitude,

Rev. Melissa Self Patrick
Executive Director

June Thank You

Cooking in the kitchen with Ms. BelleOn behalf of everyone at Urban Ministry, and with a glad heart, thank you for your generous contribution during the month of June. Your gift sustains our core programs – Community Kitchen, Homelessness Prevention, Rush Center for Urban Mission, Senior Emergency Assistance, WE Community Gardens, and Urban Kids – and we are deeply blessed by you.

Now that June has arrived, our children are enjoying the gifts of summer – swimming, playing ball in Woodward Park, going to overnight camp, as well as deepening their math and reading skills. WE Community Gardens are bountifully growing, and we’ll soon share our popular tomatoes, okra, peppers, and more! You can purchase our produce and help sustain our Gardens by visiting Princeton Hospital Professional Building on Wednesday mornings or Pepper Place Market on Saturday mornings. Our first Rush volunteer groups arrive June 15, and it looks like we’ll have a banner summer painting the exterior of many seniors and disabled persons’ homes.

Most of all, this month we are bracing ourselves for the retirement of our beloved “Ms. Belle” Carlisle, Director of Community Kitchen. She has cooked and fed hungry people for more than 31 years at Urban Ministry, and we cannot begin to count the many ways we will miss her. Many of our daily lunch guests have come to call her “mama,” and all of our staff hold her in high regard as our colleague, friend, and confidant. No matter how busy Ms. Belle is preparing lunch, she takes time to listen and to guide. Needless to say, we will miss her tremendously!

We have planned a couple of opportunities for all of us to pay tribute to Ms. Belle’s many years of service being the hands and feet of Christ to this part of the world. On Wednesday, June 18, during our regular lunch hour, our regular guests and other friends will host and serve lunch in Ms. Belle’s honor. This will be a time to break bread together, as always, but Ms. Belle will have a seat of honor so that everyone can greet her and appreciate her amazing work among us. The culminating event will be a BIG Celebration in Ms. Belle’s honor on Sunday, June 29, at Vestavia Hills UMC, from 3:00-5:00 p.m. There will be a time to meet and greet Ms. Belle, enjoy tasty refreshments from Chef Charlie Gagne’s kitchen, and enjoy a program paying tribute to Ms. Belle’s 31+ years of service with Urban Ministry’s Community Kitchen.

Peace and blessings,

Rev. Melissa Self Patrick
Executive Director