The mission of Norcross Cooperative Ministry is:
Helping those in crisis by collaborating with the community to offer programs and services that transform lives through the love of Christ.
Our emergency aid includes:
- Prescription medication
- Financial assistance for payment of
past due bills such as rent and utilities
Our transformational programs include:
- Small group Bible studies
- English classes for speakers of other languages (ESOL)
- Job Ministry to help individuals in their job search
- Case Management to our emergency shelter participants
- Referrals to other service providers in the county
The resources of the community include volunteers and
donations from local churches, individuals, civic and social groups, local
businesses and foundations.
In 1988, several churches joined together to form the Norcross Cooperative Ministry with a mission to provide services to low income and homeless families in our community. We opened our doors in May of 1988, in the corner of a small basement adjacent to Norcross 1st Baptist Church. We provided food to 2 to 5 families a day during the first several weeks.
Over the last 18 years the needs in our community have changed drastically. In the early years some food and temporary financial assistance would help a family through a temporary crisis. With the drastic change in demographics in the community our families are now faced with long-term needs due to fixed incomes, homelessness, abuse, language barriers, single parent homes and many other circumstances.
As the needs have changed and increased, so have we. We now serve 50 to 70 families per day from a 12,000 square foot facility. Our services have expanded to include food, clothing, financial assistance, ESOL classes, job ministry, small support groups and referrals. We also work closely with local agencies to help meet the many needs of our clients and to develop better ways to serve the community.
The Beginning -
October 1986 - April 1987
What to do? - June 1987 -
for Business at First Baptist of Norcross - May 1988
Northside Wesleyan - January
Mitchell Road Former Auto
Shop - 2000
The Greg Ellis Center - February 2004
Hurricane Evacuee Assistance
Growth in Families Served
The Beginning - October
1986 - April 1987
"Wouldn't it be wonderful if all the Norcross area churches could combine
their efforts to help those in need in our area?"
This casual comment was made
during a conversation between the representatives of Christ Church Episcopal and
Norcross First United Methodist. They were combining the two churches' efforts to
help a family who was about to be evicted. The two churches had been working
together for a couple of months to help those in need as both churches' funds
were rapidly dwindling.
In October 1986, the seed was planted for
the possibility of organizing Norcross churches in a ministry to help those
less fortunate in our community. The idea was discussed with ministers and
representatives from other churches during the next two months.
In January 1987,
Christ Church Episcopal and Norcross First United Methodist sent invitations to
all Norcross churches to attend a meeting at 7:30 p.m. on February 16, 1987
at Christ Church Episcopal. Nine churches attended this meeting. They were
Christ Church Episcopal, First Baptist Church of Norcross, Hopewell Baptist
Church, John Wesley
United Methodist Church, Mount Carmel United Methodist Church, Norcross First United Methodist, Pilgrimage
Presbyterian Church, St. James Lutheran Church, and St. Patrick's Catholic
Church's St. Vincent de Paul Society. The Reverend Gene Lamb, Associate
Pastor at First United Methodist Church served as the moderator.
The group shared their concerns about ministering to the needy and
discussed what their churches were doing in this area. The meeting ended
with an enthusiastic desire to further pursue the possibility of forming an
ecumenical ministry. An ad hoc committee, comprised of the Reverend Burt
Hahn, Associate Pastor at St. James Lutheran, Barbara Kasbo, Christ Church
Episcopal and the Reverend Joe Williams, Associate Minister at Norcross
First United Methodist, was appointed to study existing community ministries
in the Atlanta area. The results of this study were to be presented at a
second meeting in April.
On April 27, 1987, representatives from eleven churches met to further
discuss combining their efforts to help the needy. After hearing
presentations from the ad hoc committee on existing cooperative ministries,
the group enthusiastically embraced the idea of beginning such a group in
Norcross. At the suggestion of the Reverend Burt Hahn, it was decided to
call this new group the Norcross Cooperative Ministry. The meeting was
adjourned with a steering committee meeting scheduled for June 1, 1987.
What to do? - June 1987 - April 1988
At the first steering committee meeting on June 1, Christina Dean from
Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church and Cy Warren from Norcross First United
Methodist Church were elected co-chairpersons and Shirley and Jim Cabe from
John Wesley United Methodist Church were elected secretary and treasurer,
respectively. Those attending then embarked on a study of the needs and
resources in the Norcross area. Meetings were held monthly to discuss the
findings and to develop a plan to open a cooperative ministry. Late in 1987,
First Baptist of Norcross generously offered space in the basement of their
pastorium at 646 N. Peachtree Street, Norcross, to house the NCM center.
The next few months were spent clarifying what the NCM should do and how
the center should be run. In March 1988 it was decided to accept the offer
of First Baptist Church to have the NCM center in the basement of their
pastorium and plans were made to renovate a designated area to accommodate a
small office and food pantry. Robert Pugh of Landmark Church and Jim Cabe
planned, organized and supervised this renovation. Late in April 1988 an
open house and dedication were held for the community to see the NCM center.
Open for Business at First Baptist of Norcross - May 1988
On May 2, 1988, the NCM officially opened its hearts and doors to those
in need in the Norcross area. The center was open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to provide food, financial assistance, gas
vouchers and funds for prescriptions. The staff was comprised entirely of
volunteers, coordinated by Virginia Tinsley of Mt. Carmel United Methodist
Church and Barbara Kasbo, co-chairpersons.
In the months that followed, the steering committee became a Board of
Directors comprised of nine members from various churches. Christina Dean
was elected its first president, with Robert Pugh, vice president, Shirley Cabe, secretary and Jim Cabe, treasurer. After months of work Steve Franzen
from Christ Church Episcopal obtained a tax exempt and non-profit status for
In January 1990 the Board decided to hire the first paid staff person for
the center. Shirley Cabe assumed the part time position of Clerical
Assistant on an hourly basis. At the same time the Board decided to hire a
part time Director. On April 9, 1990, Amy Vickery became the NCM Director.
During the first two years of its operation the NCM expanded the area
occupied by the center and eventually was allowed to use the entire basement
of the pastorium. This enabled the Coop to have a small clothes closet.
When the NCM opened on May 2, 1988, only two churches were pledging
financial support which amounted to $550.00 per month. By July 1991, the NCM
was receiving regular pledges of support from 18 churches and contributions
from individuals, social and civic organizations and corporations. The Board
of Directors had also been expanded to include one representative of each of
our participating churches. In 1993 plans were presented for a storage
building behind the NCM. Thanks to Robert Pugh, the Lutheran Brotherhood and
the men at Christ the King Lutheran Church, this building was built and
dedicated in June 1994.
In 1993 Amy Vicery found it necessary to resign as our Director because
her family was moving out of the Norcross area. In the summer of 1993 the
Board hired Dianne Linngren as our Director. Dianne served as Director for 2
1/2 years until she found it necessary to resign. Shirley Cabe temporarily
took over some of the responsibilities of Director as well as being Office
Manager. Susan Polk assumed the duties of Director in May 1997. Susan Polk
resigned as Director of the NCM in the spring of 1998. At this time Shirley
Cabe was appointed interim Director in charge of all activities at the
ministry, including fund raising.
Northside Wesleyan - January 1999
After ten years of operating out of the basement of Norcross First
Baptist's pastorium, our ministry had outgrown the facility that had been
donated to us. Northside Wesleyan Church generously offered us space in part
of their educational building which allowed us to expand our facilities. We
moved into our new center early in January 1999. The NCM enjoyed the added
space. Unfortunately the Governing Board of the Weslyan Church decided to
sell their property and the NCM was forced to move in 2000.
Mitchell Road Former Auto Shop- 2000
Finding a new location was difficult and we ended up renting space in a
former automobile repair shop on Mitchell Road. The 4,000 square foot
space met our immediate needs, but it soon became apparent that more
space was needed. Also, the $1,600 a month rent that we were paying had an
adverse effect on our budget.
Hence, the year 2001 saw the coop starting a capital building program in
order to build our own facility.
The Greg Ellis Center
In 2001 we acquired land from the City of
Norcross on Mitchell Road. Ground breaking for our new building took place
on September 19, 2002. By December of 2002 over $480,000 was raised by
our Capital Building Fund Drive. Materials, furniture, computers, elevator,
office equipment, etc. were generously donated by companies and
individuals. We watched eagerly each week as our building took shape.
Finally, we were able to move into our 12,000 square foot building at 2275
Mitchell Road on February 10, 2004. On February 22, 2004, at 2:00 p.m., a
dedication ceremony was held at our new home. The community was invited and
special invitations were sent to those who had contributed to the Capital
Building Fund Drive.
As our facilities grew, so did the services that we provided to our
clients. Initially, we were able to provide financial assistance for rent,
utilities and prescription medication; food and gas vouchers.
As our space
increased we added a small clothes closet for women and children's clothes.
The clothes closet was enlarged when we moved into the space at Northside
Wesleyan Church. At Northside Wesleyan we also collected toys which were
distributed to the children at Christmas.
With the move to the former auto
repair shop, we started giving out food baskets at Thanksgiving and food
baskets and gifts at Christmas. Thanks to Campus Church of Christ, our
families now have been invited to a community Thanksgiving dinner at the
church the last two years and we continue to provide Christmas gifts and
food for our clients who sign up for holiday assistance. In 2005 we provided
gifts and food to 1,400 families including over 3,500 children.
In 2000 classes for
speakers of other languages were started and continue to be taught. Classes
in Spanish were also taught to our volunteers to help them better
communicate with our Hispanic clients.
In 2003 a job ministry program was begun to help those looking for a job
or those wishing to improve their positions in the work world. Leslie
Buchanan heads this program which has
seen great success.
Bible study classes have been offered in English and
Spanish since the fall of 2005. Victory World Church is providing the
leadership for this program.
As the NCM facilities and programs expanded, so has our staff and our
need for volunteers.
From 1988 to 1998, we operated with only one or two part time paid
staff members, a director and an assistant/office manager. In 1998,
Shirley Cabe became the full time Director and the only paid staff person.
Sandra Murray was hired part time to assist Shirley with
fund raising, grant writing and preparing the NCM newsletter.
In 2005 Leslie
Buchanan was added to the staff part time to head the Job Ministry Program
and Rodney Lewis was hired part time to manage our computer network and client
In 2006 Leslie's hours and responsibilities were increased to assist Shirley in
grant writing and to oversee the smooth operation of the NCM should Shirley not
be able to be there because of illness or vacation time. Rodney's hours were
also increased to enable him to coordinate development of our new web site
and to assist Shirley with managing our financial accounts and records.
The Board of Directors Executives are:
Jessie Joyner & Jack Lane , Co-Presidents
Cyndi Franklin & Marsha White , Co-Vice Presidents
Cathy Freeman & Ellen Queen, Co-Secretaries
Donna Galucki & Jim Sampson , Co-Treasurers
Shirley Cabe, Executive Director
Hurricane Evacuee Assistance
Since the fall of 2005, the NCM has played a vital role in helping hurricane evacuees. Thanks to the generous outpouring of help from the
community, the coop has been able to provide food, clothing, personal care
items, household items, grocery cards, gas cards, fast food certificates and
financial aid to the Katrina and Rita families in our area.
Early in 2006 the NCM was designated as the emergency center for evacuees throughout Gwinnett
County to receive aid. The NCM is processing requests for assistance and Impact
is providing counseling for the families. Unite! has furnished financial
assistance to the NCM to help these families.
Growth in Families Served
The Norcross Cooperative Ministry has grown by leaps and bounds since it
opened in 1988.
The first week that our ministry was open only 2 families sought help.
Less than a year later two volunteers helped eight families in one day.
An unprecedented number!
This is a far cry from the 50 to over 100 families
that were helped each day in
Now instead of two volunteers, the coop is manned by 9 to 16
volunteers who work at the main desk, do intake work with clients, oversee the
clothes closet, bag food and supervise the exit table.
Several days a week
approximately 10 volunteers spend hours sorting clothes and household donations.
Another group of volunteers manage our food pantry. They receive and
stock our shelves with food donations. And, when donations fall short of our
clients' needs, they purchase staple food items and keep the shelves stocked
so that we never have to send our clients away empty handed.
Throughout all of this the NCM runs smoothly and does its best to assist those
in need in our community through the resources of the community.
Thanks to the generosity of individuals, corporations, churches, civic
groups and foundations, the mortgage on our building was paid off in early January
2006. We look to a bright future.