Decatur Cooperative Ministry celebrates 50 years of service
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The Decatur Cooperative Ministry (DCM), a local non-profit helping homeless families, will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a “Birthday Bash” event late this week.
Founded in 1969, DCM originally operated as a self-described “seed-planting” agency, helping to identify local needs, creating programs to address those needs and handing off the programs to local churches, according to the DCM website.
According to Sarah Flake, DCM’s associate director of development, the organization was originally established due to concerns regarding an increase in vandalism in the area.
“Four churches came together to address the factors that led to this increase, namely children who had nowhere to go after school,” Flake said. “Thanks to their efforts, the vandalism stopped and DCM was established.”
DCM’s earliest services included after school and dentistry programs for low-income residents, and it was the birthplace of the Decatur-area Emergency Assistance Ministry, which operates independently today.
In the 1980s, DCM refocused its efforts to providing homelessness prevention and housing to at-risk and homeless families. In addition to offering the only emergency shelter for homeless families with children in DeKalb County, DCM also provides homelessness prevention, rapid re-housing, transitional housing and permanent supportive housing to families in need.
“Decatur Cooperative Ministry has been an important member of the DeKalb community since its inception,” Flake said.”We are the leading service provider for families experiencing homelessness in DeKalb County.”
The ministry has established a number of programs, including Hagar’s House, Project Take Charge, and Family House, through which it serves over 1,500 homeless and at-risk men, women and children annually, Flake said. While the housing programs focus solely on housing families with children under the age of 18, DCM’s homelessness prevention program offers services to individuals including seniors, those with disabilities, and veterans.
With the 50-year mark passing, Flake and the rest of DCM are already looking ahead to the future.
“DCM’s goal for the future is simple: keep doing good,” she said. “We are constantly assessing the community and its homeless-related needs with the goal of adding additional programs and services to address them.”
One of DCM’s most recent undertakings was a partnership with Edgewood Church to provide a medical billing and coding course, including scholarships for low-income families to attend free-of-charge, as an effort to bring job- and employment-related resources to DCM clients.
“DCM also developed an aftercare program that extends services to our families after they exit our emergency shelter in order to provide more post-discharge stability,” Flake said.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, DCM will host a Birthday Bash event on Friday, March 22. The event will include local dessert samples from popular Decatur spots like Tiff’s Treats and Butter and Cream, live music, and an auction.
In addition, several integral figures from DCM’s past, including former DCM Executive Director Beth Vann-Turnbull and the first chair of DCM’s Board of Directors, Mike Pattillo, will provide prepared remarks. The event will take place from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Solarium in Oakhurst, and over 100 members of the community are expected to attend. Community members of all ages can come, and tickets can be purchased here.