uac081512001.jpg If there is one thing that Sonny Kelly, operations director of Fayetteville Urban Ministries understands, it’s that crisis is not a respecter of persons. Anyone can fall on hard times, and Kelly believes they should be able to get back up again, with their dignity intact. That’s where Fayetteville Urban Ministry comes in. The focus is on transforming lives through faith, hope, love and security, and this is done through a four-pronged approach. Services offered include the Find-AFriend program, emergency assistance, the Adult Literacy Program and the Nehemiah Project.


Like many non-profits these days, the organization has the same mission but less money than in previous years. That hasn’t slowed down progress though. In fact, on Aug. 24 and 25, Kelly invites you to join in celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Find-A-Friend Program. “We’re inviting everyone to come to725 W. Rowan St. on Aug. 24 and join us for an open house,” said Kelly. “There will be food and games and you can hang out in the park. This is really a chance to tell people about what we do.” It’s also an opportunity to plug into the local organization and meet some of the volunteers and community resources that support the program. The event is free and lasts from 4-8 p.m.

On Aug. 25, celebrate in style with the Fayetteville Celebrity Idol at the Marquis Market. It’s the last weekend before Labor Day, so take advantage of it and join the fun at the All White Affair. “This is going to be a good time with people singing karaoke and competing,” said Kelly. “We have a great list of people who are going to perform to support our cause.”

Stick around after the performance and enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar and coffee shop. The event is open to patrons 21 and older. The fun starts at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling 483-4661 or 483-5944 or at

Find-A-Friend is about making a difference in the lives of young people. The program includes free tutoring, mentoring, afterschool leadership and life skills workshops and a 6-week Summer Achievement Camp for approximately 200 at-risk youth each year.

Brandon Price is the community liaison at Fayetteville Urban Ministry. He’s thrilled to be a part of an organization that has an impact in the community. The Find-A-Friend program serves 200 kids a year, which is up from 30 kids ten years ago when they started. “One of our goals is to help keep kids out of juvenile detention centers. In the state of North Carolina it costs more than $125,000 to pay to send a kid to a juvenile detention center for a year. It costs $1,500 to send a young person through Find-A-Friend. When you talk about the fact that this program saves our community and our state more than $1 million each year, I think that is astronomical.”

For number crunchers and donors, it is good to know that the program is making a difference. For the kids in the program, there is no way to put a price on what they get out of Find-A-Friend — for some it is self-esteem, for others it is encouragement and refi ned coping skills, for everyone it is a sense of belonging and a source of support.

“What makes us unique is that each of us as staff can relate to these kids in some form or fashion,” said Price. “It is a place where kids can go for behavior modification services, but it’s also a place to call home — where they can be themselves. We can’t take them out of the homes they live in but we can give them tools to survive.”

On the 30th Anniversary of the Find-A-Friend program, Fayetteville Urban Ministry is launching its 30/30 campaign to raise funds to continue making a difference in the community. “Our goal is to raise $30,000,” said Kelly. “We are asking people to team up with friends and organizations, or if they are able to give as individual supporters to do that. We are asking for 30 contributions of $1,000 each from the community.”

“We strive to be transparent with the work we do with these kids,” said Price. “We want to continue to grow and to help more kids. Our organization is based on being good servants and we have seen that this attitude makes a difference in changing lives.”

While youth are the focus of Find- A-Friend, Fayetteville Urban Ministry has other programs that meet different kinds of needs in the community. Emergency Assistance is provided in the form of food, clothing and financial help. According to Fayetteville Urban Ministry, in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, this program helped more than 5,000 family members and more than 300 people in the homeless community.

The Nehemiah Project repairs the homes of low-income homeowners at no cost to the resident. The program partners with contractors, volunteers and other programs and serves between 170 and 200 elderly and/or low income home owners every year.

The Adult Literacy Program serves between 150-185 adult students each year. It costs about $320 to put an adult student through the program, but the difference it makes to the individual is priceless. Find out more about Fayetteville Urban Ministry and how you can make a difference at 

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