Guest Commentary: Open your hearts and your checkbooks

Guest Commentary: Open your hearts and your checkbooks


Have you ever had to choose between buying food for your family, paying rent or utilities or getting presents for Christmas? I have.

Have you not been able to pay the rent and find yourself living on the street or sleeping on a relative's or friend's couch? Almost!

What can you do? Where can you go? If you are a single man, there are some places in this community that can help. If you are a single woman with children, there might be a few organizations that can help. Where can a married couple, with or without children, find a shelter where they can stay together as a family? At Restoration Urban Ministries, many individuals and families without shelter or the necessities for daily life receive help every day. In fact, Restoration Urban Ministries is the largest shelter in our community and the only shelter that provides a place for a family to stay together while the couple works toward becoming self-sufficient.

Restoration Urban Ministries is a faith-based nonprofit organization with headquarters at 1213 Parkland Court, C, (just west of the intersection of Mattis and Bradley). During this Christmas season, we have 65 adults and 25 children living with us. Besides providing a warm, safe place to be, we provide classes leading toward self-sufficiency, along with individual case management and counseling to help our residents turn their lives around and become productive citizens once again.

We also provide a food pantry where anyone in the community can get food, and we have a free clothing room. During this holiday season, additional donations from the community are needed to help provide for our free Christmas food giveaway and for toys for the 25 children living here.

We are blessed to live in a generous and compassionate community. However, due to the many natural disasters in our country in recent months, the generous gifts typically given to us to help the needy in this community has declined by more than 20 percent compared to last year. Our income is down, and our expenses are up. Each month, we purchase thousands of dollars in food from the Eastern Illinois Foodbank to stock our food pantry and have served over 24,500 people so far this year. Our utilities (electricity, water, sewer, garbage) for the resident buildings so far this year are more than $53,000, which doesn't include the $27,000 in utilities for buildings that house the food pantry, clothing room, administrative offices and classrooms.

The bottom line is we need you to open your hearts and pocketbooks again so we can continue serving this community — to provide safe shelter for individuals and families, provide food for those who need help to feed their families, counseling to help them find jobs and turn their lives around. Only with your help can we continue our mission to help others.

Come by our offices at 1213 Parkland Court, C, and leave a donation. Send your check to Restoration Urban Ministries, P.O. Box 3277, Champaign IL 61826. Check out our website at Donate on PayPal. Designate us on AmazonSmile. Call us at 217-355-2662.

Help us to help those who can't help themselves. Hope to hear from you soon.

Yours in service to the needy.

Ervin T. Williams is the executive director of Restoration Urban Ministries in Champaign.