UMD volunteers earn statewide honors

Unassuming yet undeterred. Joyful and tireless. They’ve been a lifeline to UMD’s Community Café over the past 16+ months. Now others have taken note. We’re thrilled to announce that volunteers Helen Trotter, Charlene Trotter, and Evelyn Yankana have earned the 2021 Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Service! Established in 2006, this honor recognizes the top 20-25 volunteers in the state.

At the outset of the pandemic, Helen Trotter did what most folks were advised and able to do: hunkered down at home. But it wasn’t long before she felt the urge to resume volunteering at UMD—provided she could do so safely. She called us and arranged to come by to see how we had modified operations. At that time, our shelter residents had been moved to a hotel in RTP, and staff members were serving prepared meals to the community, putting together breakfast and lunch bags, while making deliveries three times a day to the hotel. Reassured by what she saw, Helen told daughter Charlene and fellow volunteer Evelyn Yankana that it was safe to return to volunteering in the kitchen. They quickly came back and took on the responsibility of making the daily breakfast and lunch bags for our residents at the hotel and the community members who continued to come for meals at UMD. They did this Monday through Friday, week after week, month after month.

When residents returned to campus last July, our shelter re-opened at sharply reduced capacity due to COVID precautions. Some residents transitioned to permanent housing and a group that had been identified as medically fragile moved to a motel. Once our "Dynamic Trio" learned that we had 65 medically-fragile residents staying offsite, they began preparing breakfast and lunch bags for those residents as well, packaging each item with extra love and consideration. This new assignment began in July 2020, and has continued. We have no doubt that they will carry on until every resident in the motel has been relocated. 

Congratulations to Helen, Charlene, and Evelyn and thanks to each of you for your past, present, and future volunteer contributions and support!


Thank YOU for making Empty Bowls 2021 a success

On March 4th, UMD held its first-ever "virtual" Empty Bowls fundraiser. Thanks to generous sponsors, artisans, restaurant partners, and ticket buyers, we raised more than $130,000 to benefit neighbors in need. Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible.


There's no place like home

Due to COVID-19, UMD has had to dramatically reduce our shelter's capacity from 149 beds to 83 and move medically fragile residents to private rooms at the Carolina-Duke Inn. This has only increased the need to help clients secure permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible. What an incredible opportunity to make a difference for men, women and children working to restart their lives during a pandemic! There are a couple of ways you can support this effort:

  1. Open your doors. Do you have a rental property or another space that can be made available for temporary or permanent housing? Or can you connect us to someone who does have these resources? Housing does NOT have to be local. The majority of our clients will need rental units around $600 or less per person per month. Please contact Clinical Director Valerie Uchegbu by calling or texting her at 919-459-7220 (preferred) or emailing her at
  2. Contribute to Project ROOF (Removing Obstacles to Occupancy Funds). These funds will be used to assist with rental deposits, first month’s rent, utility hook-ups, transportation to identified housing and other needs directly tied to housing homeless neighbors as quickly as possible. Make a gift online and put “ROOF” in the dedication or send a check to UMD at PO Box 249, Durham, NC 27702 with memo line “ROOF."

Addressing food insecurity

Throughout the pandemic, UMD has continued to provide hot meals for homeless and hungry individuals in Durham. Our costs have climbed due to the need to package most meals to-go and to purchase more takeout-friendly foods, as well as to employ a nonprofit catering service to furnish meals to residents staying in hotels/motels. Clients who are sheltered on campus may use our cafe, which now features protective barriers on tables and the serving line, new cleaning procedures and limited seating to promote safety. Meal times at UMD are:


  • Breakfast and bag lunch pickup 8–9 a.m.
  • Dinner 6-7 p.m.

Saturday, Sunday and Holidays

  • Breakfast 9:30-10:30 a.m.
  • Lunch 12:30-1:30 p.m.
  • Dinner 6-7 p.m.

In August 2020, UMD resumed food distribution to the community thanks to our partnership with the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, as well as a new collaboration with Sankofa Farms. Shelf-stable and fresh food are pre-packaged for contactless pick up every Tuesday from 10 am to noon in the parking lot of St. Philip's Episcopal Church, adjacent to our campus. We are serving an average of 150 households per week. Customers may briefly park to pick up their allotment and should be prepared to open their trunk. Walk-up customers are also welcome. Mask-wearing is required. Please contact or 919-682-0538 to make large donations of non-perishable food. 

Clothing distributions have also resumed at UMD and are held every Thursday from 10 am to noon. Clients should approach the Queen Street side door to our cafe and submit their request. A UMD volunteer or staff member will help fill your order. As COVID restrictions continue to ease, we will determine when and how to admit clients back inside for shopping in our Food Pantry and Clothing Closet.  

Amazon Wish List and Cash Donations

We have created an Amazon Wish List for our COVID-19 preparations. Please click on the link to purchase some of these critical supplies. Items will be shipped directly to our campus, and all gifts are tax-deductible. As a result of the pandemic, we're also incurring a number of unplanned expenses, including for extra staff to properly supervise shelter operations offsite. You can help us offset these costs by making a cash gift to UMD.

Please continue to monitor your email for updated information from us, as news becomes available. If you are not subscribed to our email communications, please sign up by contacting us at

For accurate, up-to-date COVID-19 information, continue to check the NCDHHS, CDC and Durham County Department of Public Health websites, and follow these agencies on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @ncdhhs, @cdcgov & @durhamhealthnc.

As always, thank so much for your generous support.


In Fiscal Year 2019-20, we made a difference for 6,304 neighbors in need

UMD connects with the community to end homelessness and fight poverty by offering food, shelter and a future to neighbors in need. We are THE public shelter for single adults in Durham and the back-up shelter for families. UMD will assist anyone in need, regardless of race, ethnicity, religious belief or non-belief, sexual orientation, gender or gender identification, or disability. We offer practical help and genuine hope to shelter residents and community clients through our:

Community Shelter for men, women and children who need a safe emergency place to sleep. We offer case management to all shelter clients to help them create an individualized plan for obtaining permanent housing and sufficient income to remain independent. We have a robust workforce development program to help residents enhance their skills and secure gainful employment, often despite barriers such as long periods of unemployment, medical and mental health problems, past criminal convictions and addiction. We sheltered 804 individuals this past year. 

Community Café, which serves three free meals a day, seven days a week to shelter guests and anyone in Durham who is hungry. We served 241,051 meals in FY 2019-20.

Food Pantry and Clothing Closet, which distribute groceries, clothing, diapers and hygiene products to more than 500 households per month to help those with extremely limited means make ends meet. We assisted 519 households per month this past year before COVID-19 forced us to suspend operations for several months. As noted above, modified food distribution resumed in August.



Play SPENT, our online game about surviving poverty

Launched by McKinney in 2011, SPENT has been played more than 10 million times across the globe. The goal of the game: Start with $1,000 and make the decisions necessary to reach the end of the month with something still left in your pocket. We wish you luck. 







410 Liberty Street, Durham, NC 27701 | (919) 682-0538

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