TAKE 5: Despite fluctuations, CUOC perseveres

Aug. 10, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

This week, we Take 5 with Teresa Dew Kelly, the executive director of the Christians United Outreach Center of Lee County, about CUOC’s service and the upcoming “Down South Music Festival.” A Sanford native, Kelly married Broadway native Mike Kelly two years ago and now resides in Broadway. She has two grown sons and two grandsons. She’s been a member of the Sanford First Pentecostal Holiness Church for more than 40 years, where she serves as secretary and treasurer.

The first woman member and board member of the Sanford Lions, she now serves as president of the Broadway Lions Club. She was a charter member of the DayTimers Branch of the Sanford Lions Club and the Central Carolina Toastmasters Club. A graduate of Lee Senior High School, Kelly has her certification in fundraising management from the Indiana School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, along with her N.C. brokers license in real estate. She most recently acquired her certification in nonprofit management from Duke University.

You’ve stated that in the last few months, CUOC has experienced some of the most extreme “highs” and “lows” in its eight years of service. What are the highs?

Highs as in the numbers; some of the largest numbers we have ever experienced in our eight years of service to the community. We distributed 13,219 boxes of food in 2012, feeding more than 51,735 individuals approximately 574,260 pounds of food. [We’re] experiencing more highs as in the number of partnerships, with area churches totaling 66 area churches and well more than 110 area businesses. [There are] additional highs, as in the number of volunteers totaling more than 300 individuals, not including work groups who come out and participate in the food distribution and operation of our thrift store.

And what are the lows?

We have also experienced some lows, such as the amount of food drive donations, financial donations and food available for distribution to clients. In the last few months, our board has tried to plan for our future and the continuation of our services to the community by eliminating financial aid, negotiating food purchases to handle reduced donations, detailing the interview process for client needs and adjusting the distribution schedules to assure food will be plentiful for months to come for those in worst-case situations.

CUOC has been the beneficiary in the last two months of corporate grants and contributions. Tell us about those …

In the last two months, our community and God’s blessings have fallen on us yet again, and we want to say thank you. We have received a large grant from the Walmart Foundation to help in food purchases through 2013. We have received a contribution from BB&T to purchase food, and employees planted a community garden for us. We have received a generous donation this year from our United Way partnership, and church support has increased as well.  Duke Progress Energy’s Cape Fear facility has given us several items, including two six-ton air-conditioning units, one of which was installed in our client room last week during our shutdown. While installation was being made, we were able to secure a partnership with our local Lowe’s building supply center to paint our client room ceiling, walls and floor. We have opened our needs to the community, and God has blessed our stewardship of his gifts by blessing us abundantly. God is so good!

CUOC will be the benefactor of the “Down South Music Festival” coming up a week from today. The concert features the Charlie Daniels Band and other acts with the goal of raising funds and awareness for CUOC. What do people need to know about this event?

The Lights on Broadway Committee is organizing the Down South Music Festival, to be held on Aug. 17 with Charlie Daniels and others. The goal is to raise funds and awareness for CUOC in addition to a community food drive with more than 30 sponsors participating. With a potential donation of $20,000, along with a goal of furnishing 200,000 pounds of food to this community, we feel both honored and privileged to have been chosen. Tickets are available online at www.downsouthmusicfestival.com or at CUOC, Feedmeal Restaurant in Broadway or Remax.

Gate prices are $25 on the day of the event, but you can bring four cans of food and get the ticket for $20. Food donations are encouraged on the day of the event even if you have pre-purchased your tickets. There will even be a Remax Golf Ball Drop at the event from the hot air balloon. Look for the CUOC tent to purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win one of two SeaEagle.com “Fold Cat” fishing boats during the event as well. VIP tickets for a dinner and meet and greet with Charlie Daniels prior to the event are also still available.

CUOC has been named “Best Nonprofit” in Lee County by The Herald’s readers. What does that mean to you and your staff?

We at CUOC are very grateful that our community has chosen our agency as the nonprofit of choice in the “Best of Lee County” for 2013. We are only as good as the community that supports and partners with us, so we thank you for helping us to continue meeting the needs of Lee County. We are celebrating with you and will be able to start financial aid for rental assistance and utility (lights and gas) assistance back this month. Thank you, Lee County, for sharing your love with CUOC!