As the needs have changed and increased, so have we
In 1988, several churches joined together to form the Norcross Cooperative Ministry with a mission to provide services to low income and homeless families in our community. We opened our doors in May of 1988, in the corner of a small basement adjacent to Norcross 1st Baptist Church. We provided food to 2 to 5 families a day during the first several weeks.
Over the years the needs in our community have changed drastically. In the early years some food and temporary financial assistance would help a family through a temporary crisis. With the drastic change in demographics in the community our families are now faced with long-term needs due to fixed incomes, homelessness, abuse, language barriers, single parent homes and many other circumstances.
As the needs have changed and increased, so have we. Our services have expanded to include food, clothing, financial assistance, ESOL classes, job ministry, small support groups and referrals. We also work closely with local agencies to help meet the many needs of our clients and to develop better ways to serve the community.
The Beginning: October 1986 - April 1987
"Wouldn't it be wonderful if all the Norcross area churches could combine their efforts to help those in need in our area?"
This casual comment was made during a conversation between the representatives of Christ Church Episcopal and Norcross First United Methodist. They were combining the two churches' efforts to help a family who was about to be evicted. The two churches had been working together for a couple of months to help those in need as both churches' funds were rapidly dwindling.
In October 1986, the seed was planted for the possibility of organizing Norcross churches in a ministry to help those less fortunate in our community. The idea was discussed with ministers and representatives from other churches during the next two months.
In January 1987, Christ Church Episcopal and Norcross First United Methodist sent invitations to all Norcross churches to attend a meeting at 7:30 p.m. on February 16, 1987 at Christ Church Episcopal. Nine churches attended this meeting. They were Christ Church Episcopal, First Baptist Church of Norcross, Hopewell Baptist Church, John Wesley United Methodist Church, Mount Carmel United Methodist Church, Norcross First United Methodist, Pilgrimage Presbyterian Church, St. James Lutheran Church, and St. Patrick's Catholic Church's St. Vincent de Paul Society. The Reverend Gene Lamb, Associate Pastor at First United Methodist Church served as the moderator.
The group shared their concerns about ministering to the needy and discussed what their churches were doing in this area. The meeting ended with an enthusiastic desire to further pursue the possibility of forming an ecumenical ministry. An ad hoc committee, comprised of the Reverend Burt Hahn, Associate Pastor at St. James Lutheran, Barbara Kasbo, Christ Church Episcopal and the Reverend Joe Williams, Associate Minister at Norcross First United Methodist, was appointed to study existing community ministries in the Atlanta area. The results of this study were to be presented at a second meeting in April.
On April 27, 1987, representatives from eleven churches met to further discuss combining their efforts to help the needy. After hearing presentations from the ad hoc committee on existing cooperative ministries, the group enthusiastically embraced the idea of beginning such a group in Norcross. At the suggestion of the Reverend Burt Hahn, it was decided to call this new group the Norcross Cooperative Ministry. The meeting was adjourned with a steering committee meeting scheduled for June 1, 1987.
What to do: June 1987 - April 1988
At the first steering committee meeting on June 1, Christina Dean from Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church and Cy Warren from Norcross First United Methodist Church were elected co-chairpersons and Shirley and Jim Cabe from John Wesley United Methodist Church were elected secretary and treasurer, respectively. Those attending then embarked on a study of the needs and resources in the Norcross area. Meetings were held monthly to discuss the findings and to develop a plan to open a cooperative ministry. Late in 1987, First Baptist of Norcross generously offered space in the basement of their pastorium at 646 N. Peachtree Street, Norcross, to house the NCM center.
The next few months were spent clarifying what the NCM should do and how the center should be run. In March 1988 it was decided to accept the offer of First Baptist Church to have the NCM center in the basement of their pastorium and plans were made to renovate a designated area to accommodate a small office and food pantry. Robert Pugh of Landmark Church and Jim Cabe planned, organized and supervised this renovation. Late in April 1988 an open house and dedication were held for the community to see the NCM center.
Open for Business at First Baptist of Norcross - May 1988
On May 2, 1988, the NCM officially opened its hearts and doors to those in need in the Norcross area. The center was open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to provide food, financial assistance, gas vouchers and funds for prescriptions. The staff was comprised entirely of volunteers, coordinated by Virginia Tinsley of Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church and Barbara Kasbo, co-chairpersons.
In the months that followed, the steering committee became a Board of Directors comprised of nine members from various churches. Christina Dean was elected its first president, with Robert Pugh, vice president, Shirley Cabe, secretary and Jim Cabe, treasurer. After months of work Steve Franzen from Christ Church Episcopal obtained a tax exempt and non-profit status for the NCM.
In January 1990 the Board decided to hire the first paid staff person for the center. Shirley Cabe assumed the part time position of Clerical Assistant on an hourly basis. At the same time the Board decided to hire a part time Director. On April 9, 1990, Amy Vickery became the NCM Director.
During the first two years of its operation the NCM expanded the area occupied by the center and eventually was allowed to use the entire basement of the pastorium. This enabled the Coop to have a small clothes closet.
When the NCM opened on May 2, 1988, only two churches were pledging financial support which amounted to $550.00 per month. By July 1991, the NCM was receiving regular pledges of support from 18 churches and contributions from individuals, social and civic organizations and corporations. The Board of Directors had also been expanded to include one representative of each of our participating churches. In 1993 plans were presented for a storage building behind the NCM. Thanks to Robert Pugh, the Lutheran Brotherhood and the men at Christ the King Lutheran Church, this building was built and dedicated in June 1994.
In 1993 Amy Vicery found it necessary to resign as our Director because her family was moving out of the Norcross area. In the summer of 1993 the Board hired Dianne Linngren as our Director. Dianne served as Director for 2 1/2 years until she found it necessary to resign. Shirley Cabe temporarily took over some of the responsibilities of Director as well as being Office Manager. Susan Polk assumed the duties of Director in May 1997. Susan Polk resigned as Director of the NCM in the spring of 1998. At this time Shirley Cabe was appointed interim Director in charge of all activities at the ministry, including fund raising.
Northside Wesleyan - January 1999
After ten years of operating out of the basement of Norcross First Baptist's pastorium, our ministry had outgrown the facility that had been donated to us. Northside Wesleyan Church generously offered us space in part of their educational building which allowed us to expand our facilities. We moved into our new center early in January 1999. The NCM enjoyed the added space. Unfortunately the Governing Board of the Weslyan Church decided to sell their property and the NCM was forced to move in 2000.
Mitchell Road Former Auto Shop- 2000
Finding a new location was difficult and we ended up renting space in a former automobile repair shop on Mitchell Road. The 4,000 square foot space met our immediate needs, but it soon became apparent that more space was needed. Also, the $1,600 a month rent that we were paying had an adverse effect on our budget.
Hence, the year 2001 saw the coop starting a capital building program in order to build our own facility.
The Greg Ellis Center
In 2001 we acquired land from the City of Norcross on Mitchell Road. Ground breaking for our new building took place on September 19, 2002. By December of 2002 over $480,000 was raised by our Capital Building Fund Drive. Materials, furniture, computers, elevator, office equipment, etc. were generously donated by companies and individuals. We watched eagerly each week as our building took shape.
Finally, we were able to move into our 12,000 square foot building at 2275 Mitchell Road on February 10, 2004. On February 22, 2004, at 2:00 p.m., a dedication ceremony was held at our new home. The community was invited and special invitations were sent to those who had contributed to the Capital Building Fund Drive.
Growth in Families Served
The Norcross Cooperative Ministry has grown by leaps and bounds since it opened in 1988.
The first week that our ministry was open only 2 families sought help.
Less than a year later two volunteers helped eight families in one day. An unprecedented number!
This is a far cry from the 50 to over 100 families that were helped each day in 2005.
Now instead of two volunteers, the coop is manned by 9 to 16 volunteers who work at the main desk, do intake work with clients, oversee the clothes closet, bag food and supervise the exit table.
Several days a week approximately 10 volunteers spend hours sorting clothes and household donations.
Another group of volunteers manage our food pantry. They receive and stock our shelves with food donations. And, when donations fall short of our clients' needs, they purchase staple food items and keep the shelves stocked so that we never have to send our clients away empty handed.
Throughout all of this the NCM runs smoothly and does its best to assist those in need in our community through the resources of the community.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 10am to 2pm
Tuesdays from 6pm to 8pm
Saturday from 10am to 12noon
Doors are opened 30 minutes prior to each shift
Monday - Friday from 9am to 4pm
Tuesdays from 9am to 7pm
Saturdays from 10am to 12 noon