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" The fantastic work that we have done over the last six years - especially this past year - has elevated the UCC name back into one that Newark is proud to have as its Community Action Agency. "
- Craig Mainor, Executive Director
A Message From Our Executive Director
In my first meeting at United Community Corporation six years ago, I heard the phrase “Moving people from dependency to self-sufficiency.”
Those words stuck with me and quickly became my elevator slogan because they perfectly represented our mission. When our clients need our services - whether that is our homeless shelter, food pantry or low-income housing - we provide a safe, judgement-free environment, but we also help our clients get out of poverty, become independent and able to provide for themselves and their families. We don’t ask people why they are here, we ask how we can help get them out. United Community Corporation has served Newark as the city's Community Action Agency since 1964, but our mission was never more important than this March when COVID-19 changed the world as we knew it.
As the coronavirus made its vicious and rampant spread across New Jersey, there were a number of things that made me nervous. I was worried about our agency. I was worried about my family. I was worried about our community. Despite having the same sense of fear and uneasiness that overtook seemingly the entire world, our staff sprung into action. We formed a committee with 12 elders from churches throughout Essex County and now have over 40 churches within Newark and surrounding areas that supply their own volunteers, utilize the churches in their areas and pick up food from us for distribution. During the pandemic, we’ve been able to feed over 150-thousand people in large part due to our generous funders, donors, partners, volunteers and our dedicated staff.
Our relief services during this pandemic went far beyond our food pantry. Our homeless shelter has operated 24 hours a day, all while following New Jersey’s social distancing mandates. We also continued our non-emergency services to provide low-income housing, assistance with electric, gas and energy payments, job training programs and youth programs to help our community regain a sense of normalcy. None of that would have been possible without our funders continued support for all of our programs and the dedication of our staff. While the number of people in need increased daily, our staff rose to the occasion and stepped up to serve the community during a world wide crisis.
While I couldn’t be prouder of the work my staff and I have done, I’m also excited for the future. We are set to break ground on our housing project, which has been two years in the making. We will be building 11, two-family homes in the South Ward to aid low-income families and, hopefully, help them become self-sufficient. We’ve also partnered with the City of Newark on its shipping container village to give homeless individuals a place to stay during CODE BLUE emergencies and with the city’s Department of Health to deliver groceries to families forced to quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure and/or contraction.
The fantastic work that we have done over the last six years - especially this past year - has elevated the UCC name back into one that Newark is proud to have as its Community Action Agency.