The Dunn City Council paid tribute to the Dunn United Ministerial Association during it’s meeting on Nov.12.
Mayor Oscar Harris read the proclamation honoring the organization which has provided assistance to those in need whether it be through their efforts to provide financial support or through the Food Pantry it maintains.
“The Dunn United Ministerial Association was established in an effort to help the stranded and those in need in our community,” Harris read. “Today, DUMA’s mission remains the same, pastors partnering together to help provide financial assistance to individuals in the community.”
Glad Tidings Church Pastor Tim Rice, who serves as the president of DUMA, said the organization is appreciative of the honor and was surprised when he was notified about two weeks ago.
“It was a great surprise,” he said. “We’re very thankful for our partnership with the city.”
The partnership has been one of the keys to the success of DUMA, Rice believes. He said the partnership has evolved from an informal partnership to the city’s aid in helping DUMA become a bona fide nonprofit in 2014. He said the city’s help was invaluable in helping DUMA reach the goal of a 501(3)(c).
“That really propelled us to a new level of providing benevolent services to the community,” Rice said. “So we’ve been blessed, its a win-win.”
The association has two benevolent services which benefit individuals and families in times of need.
“We’ve got a benevolence fund out of which we give financial grants to individuals that demonstrate a need for transportation costs, heating costs, utility costs, that type of thing,” he said. “And we also operate the community food pantry.”
Since gaining the nonprofit status, Rice says it’s been a blessing, especially in how it has allowed DUMA to serve the community in a much better fashion.
He said because they can raise funds to operate the program, it allows for the organization to get funding through both traditional fundraising and through the accessibility of grants the nonprofit status offers the organization.
“We’ve been able to solicit and receive funds more freely because of the status, we’ve been able to apply for and get some grants, local grants and federal grants, as well,” Rice said. “So it has opened the door in terms of fundraising. It has also raised the awareness of the community about the services we are able to provide.”
One of the most visible parts of DUMA’s services to the community comes through the Food Pantry. Rice said the facility serves over 200 individuals and families, through two distribution days each month.
“We have clientele that comes through each week that is different than the previous distribution,” Rice said. “We serve over 200 and I’d say it’s probably close to 300 individuals and families each month from the pantry.”
As far as the financial grants to community members in need, Rice estimates somewhere around seven or eight individuals or families are helped each week.
“We do have to cap the finances that we give each week so the finances will last throughout the year,” he said. “The need is always greater than our ability to meet the needs, so we have to set some kind of limits on what we can do, so that limits the number of people we can help each week.”
Rice admits there’s been plenty of challenges to fulfill the mission of DUMA. He says not the least of which is the fundraising.
“The need is always bigger than our ability to meet the need,” he said. “Turning people away — and to my knowledge we’ve never turned anybody away at the pantry — the financial grants, we do have to turn people away each time that we see clients. It’s hard, it’s difficult because I’m sure we’re turning away legitimate needs. But it becomes a question of prioritizing who we can and who we should turn around.”
When DUMA is unable to offer those in need assistance, they oftentimes help them find other sources and put them in the right direction.
“If we can’t help them, maybe there’s another agency that can help them with their specific need,” Rice said. “We network with a lot of different agencies.”