A Letter from the Executive Director of Urban Ministries Durham

Dear StepUp Durham, 

I was in the front hallway when John* returned from StepUp this afternoon. First of all, he looked like one of our donors in his new suit! I didn't recognize him at first.

Then he breathlessly told me, "I just graduated from StepUp's Jobs Week." I congratulated him, told him how nice he looked and asked him if he enjoyed it.

"I loved it!" he replied. The energy and excitement was so evident. He looked for his case manager to tell him thanks and when he wasn't in his office, John ran off to the shelter to find him there. 

The reason I came to UMD was because I want to help people who are homeless and impoverished to find the beauty and power within themselves and believe more is possible. We work so hard at UMD to help people get that feeling but employment is such a crucial piece of the puzzle. UMD is not an employment agency nor a full-fledged workforce development effort. We can't be all things to all people but we want to connect with partners so that together, we can make dreams come true. 

I know our first four StepUp graduates still have a ways to go before they are employed and out on their own again, but today, they took a very important step. I am so hopeful about UMD’s partnership with StepUp Durham and truly believe that together, we can help so many adults in Durham who just need a fresh start to get that opportunity. We promise to do everything we can on our end to send candidates we feel are best for your program, and to support them in the shelter and then in housing to help them to succeed. 

Thanks for coming to Durham and for your great start.

Patrice Nelson
Executive Director
Urban Ministries Durham
* Names changed to respect participant privacy

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