UMD's response to COVID-19

The situation with COVID-19 is evolving, and Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD) is continuing to modify services to protect clients, volunteers, staff and the wider community. Based on public health recommendations and governmental orders, we have suspended operations in our Clothing Closet and Food Pantry until further notice. We are referring community clients to food pantries that remain open. Equally important, we continue to provide three meals a day to shelter residents, unsheltered homeless and others who are hungry, even as we employ social distancing and other preventive measures to the greatest extent possible. At the moment, our staff is extremely focused on meeting the needs of our current shelter residents. We hope this public health crisis will abate soon but are making plans to adapt further if "shelter in place" is mandated at the local, state or federal level. 

We are reminding all staff and volunteers to wash their hands upon entering UMD before beginning their shift. Signs have been posted in the Resource Building directing individuals to the restrooms and placed throughout campus encouraging proper hygiene and cleaning procedures. We are making sanitation products available and encouraging individuals to use them. Our education efforts are based on guidance from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other reputable sources. In addition, we are working closely with government officials, including the Durham County Department of Public Health, and other partners to navigate this situation responsibly.

Meal Service Update

All meals provided through our kitchen and café operations are now being packaged for takeout for community clients. We understand that volunteers in high-risk groups may opt to remain at home, and we encourage you to protect yourself. However, UMD must continue to provide nutrition for the hungry. Thus, we are grateful for anything you can do to help us fulfill this part of our mission. For example, if you’re more comfortable doing so, you can prepare meals offsite and deliver them to UMD for distribution. Or, you can assemble meals onsite, place them in to-go containers and request that a UMD staff member hand them out. Volunteers are required to wear gloves, and we are working on obtaining masks for those who would prefer to wear them. We will provide further details to volunteers when they report for duty. 

Amazon Wish List

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. Note: There are several items that we need but are strugling to find on Amazon. We'd love to have help obtaining: non-contact digital infrared thermometers (1-2), bottled water, Clorox bleach, spray disinfectant and hand sanitizer.

We request your patience as we work through these modifications and will provide additional updates as changes occur. 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.


Empty Bowls 2020 was unforgettable!

UMD’s 14th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser was Thursday, March 5, 2020, at the Durham Convention Center. Thanks to nearly 1,000 tickets sold and the generous contributions of sponsors and others, Urban Ministries of Durham exceeded its goal by raising $150,000 to benefit neighbors in need. That amount is sufficient to provide a hot dinner to more than 200 clients in our Community Café for 10 months. Supporters literally turned empty bowls into full plates for those who are hungry and seek nourishment at UMD. We thank all the businesses, organizations and individuals who helped make Empty Bowls 2020 our most successful fundraiser ever and would like to single out those who played a special role, beginning with our 49 sponsors, including our Presenting Sponsor, The Forest at Duke.  We also must highlight our Area Sponsors: Olive & OliveRTI International and The Bart Ehrman Blog. Finally, a special nod to the Durham Convention Center for hosting a thousand of UMD’s closest friends at a generous discount.

Next, great thanks to the restaurants who shared their culinary inspiration with us in large quantities and a standing ovation to MEZ Contemporary Mexican for capturing BOTH the Judges’ Choice and People’s Choice awards! We’re also grateful for the scrumptious contributions of LoafStarbucks and all of our dessert makers: Indulge CateringRiseNinth Street BakeryKenkita Fields-Ormond/A Friend in NeedMt. Sylvan United Methodist ChurchAldersgate United Methodist Church, and Durham Church of Christ. Thanks, as well, to our celebrity judges—who appeared to have the most fun of anyone—and to volunteer Lana Pierce for recruiting this year’s panel.   

As always, we would have been “empty of bowls” without the generous contributions of artists and artisans. Thanks to all those who gave of their time and talent to create beautiful keepsakes from the evening, and a round of applause to Dr. Pam Epperson for coordinating our bowl donations. Great thanks also to returning emcee Jatovi McDuffie, who commanded the audience’s attention whenever needed, and to Wool E. Bull for engaging with kids of all ages. Kudos as well to Molly Morgan for designing our event program and signage, PBM Graphics for their quality printing and in-kind support, and ABC11 for their coverage of Empty Bowls and continued sponsorship.  And how would we put together a scrapbook of the evening without Satsuki "Sunshine" Scoville of Scoville Photography, who captured hundreds of images—some of which you'll be seeing via our social media posts. 

Last—and certainly not least—thanks to the 170 volunteers who helped us pull it all off, including those who assisted with weeks of preparation to get us ready. You all “hit the mark” when we needed you, and we’re so grateful for your participation! Special thanks to UMD Director of Community Engagement Viki Baker for coordinating our legion of helpers.

Make plans now to join us next March for Empty Bowls 2021!


Join the UMD team

UMD is currently looking to add a clinical case manager to our team. Case managers work closely with shelter clients to help them successfully transition from UMD, including by developing individualized plans for securing permanent housing and a steady income, often through employment and/or enhancing skill sets. This position requires an MSW or other Master's degree in a related human service field, licensed at the Associate level or Full Licensure (LCSWA/LCSW, LPCA/LPC). For more information, including salary range and instructions for applying, please click here.


We ended homelessness for 248 people in FY 2018-19.

We welcome neighbors in need regardless of ethnicity, religious belief or non-belief, sexual orientation or gender identification, or disability. Our programs end homelessness by providing neighbors with emergency shelter and case management to help them overcome barriers such as unemployment, medical and mental health problems, past criminal convictions and addiction. We assist some 6,000 people each year who need food, shelter, clothing and/or supportive services through these main programs:

Community Shelter for men, women and families 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 clients enhance their skills and secure gainful employment.

Community Café serves three meals a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to shelter guests and anyone in Durham who is hungry.

Food Pantry and Clothing Closet distribute groceries, clothing and hygiene products to approximately 500 households per month to help those with extremely limited means to make ends meet.



Play SPENT, our online game about surviving poverty


NFC High Chair

Gifts that give twice.

Connect yourself and your friends with everyday things that enable food, shelter and a future for our clients. From teddy bears to tampons, bus passes to bed sheets, cans of vegetables to case managers, naming rights are available at, the most interesting and meaningful gift they'll get this online slots guide year.

Many thanks to McKinney for developing the site. 

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

Get E-news from UMD