MEMORIAL DAY: United Community is closed on May 30th, 2022

Our History

50+ Years of Serving Our Community

Over 50 years ago, United Community Ministries began its mission to empower our neighbors in need to transform their lives.

Now, as United Community, we seek to end multi-generational poverty by harnessing the power of community to create systemic change.

United Community Logo The old UCM Logo

Our Timeline

1969

UCM is Incorporated

UCM begins under the leadership of Pat Berg, the first executive director.

The Basic Needs program and the first Back Porch Thrift Store opened to offer residents affordable clothing and utilize income to support program cost.

trailer_store

Old executive director of UCM Pat Berg

1969

1976

Growing Programs

Basic Needs program, with funding from Fairfax County, added medical, nutrition, employment, housing counseling, and community outreach.

Staff and resident in the food pantry UCM_Solutions

1976

1984

Presidential Support

Second Lady Barbara Bush is Honorary Chair of UCM’s annual gala.

barbara_bush_ucm

1984

1986

Early Learning Center

Bryant Early Learning Center opened to provide our residents a high-quality learning environment for children age two to pre-K in partnership with Fairfax County Schools, Office for Children, and Fairfax County government. 

Early learning center youth posing dressed in fancy costumes

1986

1998

Healthy Families

Healthy Families Fairfax – South County site opened and operated by UCM in partnership with Northern Virginia Family Service. It is a nationally recognized child-abuse prevention program.

1998

1999

Community Centers

UCM began managing Sacramento Neighborhood Center & Janna Lee Apt.’s Community Center, (now the Creekside Village Community Center) in partnership with Fairfax County Neighborhood & Community Services. 

Youth studying in the Sacramento Neighborhood Computer Lab Youth with their hands raised cheering at Grist Mill Park

1999

2001

Friends of UCM

The Friends of UCM created as a UCM charter. Nancy Urban was its first president.

2001

2012

Opportunity Neighborhood

UCM became the lead partner for Opportunity Neighborhood Mount Vernon, a collective impact initiative designed to break the cycle of poverty in partnership with Fairfax County Neighborhood Community Services.

A young boy holding a happy community day sign he made

2012

2013

Progreso Literacy and Citizenship Center

Progreso Literacy and Citizenship Center merged into UCM.

 

2013

2014

Stepping Stones

Basic Needs is renamed Stepping Stones.

A group of volunteers and staff organizing food Staff and volunteers in front of the UCM food truck

 

2014

2018

Community Schools

Selected by United Way – National Capital Area, Fairfax County Government and Fairfax County Public Schools to be lead partner in piloting Community School initiative at Walt Whitman Middle & Mount Vernon Woods  Elementary Schools.

2018

2017

Celebrating 50 Years

UCM celebrates its 50th year of neighbors helping neighbors.

2017

2020

Covid-19 Support

United Community works to support families in need during this uniquely challenging time.

2020

Our Story

In the early 1960s, a group of women attending the Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church decided to organize a clothing drive to help families in Gum Springs, a largely neglected community with widespread poverty. 

We were particularly distressed that our own closets were overflowing while children in Gum Springs were sometimes not attending schools for lack of clothing,” noted Pat Berg, one of the lead organizers.

The women bought a beat up trailer for $700 and parked it on the church property of what is now Bethlehem Baptist Church on Sherwood Hall and Fordson Roads. They called it the Trailer Store. The women enlisted other churches to collect clothes and recruited volunteers from congregants to help with distribution. People came in droves to help.

Each Saturday morning, the trailer was a beehive of activity. In addition to handing out clothes, volunteers offered a variety of classes to young and old, and provided additional emergency help to families in need. In 1969, United Community Ministries was officially organized, with Pat Berg as its first Executive Director.

The organization started with one employee and less than $8,000 the first year. By 1971, it had attracted more than 700 volunteers and gained funding from the Fairfax County Department of Social Services, which declared that the agency had “helped bridge the communication between the advantaged and disadvantaged in the community.” 

We have big dreams for our community.

For more than 50 years, United Community Ministries empowered neighbors in need to transform their lives by providing services and programs that meet their most basic needs – food, clothing, and shelter. With this mission in mind — and with the help of countless individuals, corporations, foundations, individual donors, the faith community, and the Fairfax County Government — the agency quickly became the anchor institution for human services in southeast Fairfax County. 

By the organization’s 50th Anniversary in 2019, with a $5.0 million budget and 71 employees, United Community Ministries served approximately 9,000 unique individuals annually.

However, after five decades of providing basic needs to impoverished families, the agency recognized that more needed to be done. A recent study by the Northern Virginia Health Foundation identified the Route 1 Corridor as a community where multi-generational poverty thrives due to systemic inequities in education, employment, housing, and opportunity. As an agency, we realized that in order to truly empower the community we serve, we needed to do more to help them overcome these obstacles. 

So in 2019, we broadened our vision — to empower our neighbors in need to transform their lives and end multi-generational poverty by harnessing the power of community to create systemic change.

We also changed our name to United Community — emphasizing our commitment to collaborate with community members, faith groups, corporate partners and local and state government to end multi-generational poverty. Together, we have launched a “Community of Opportunity” initiative to elevate the voice of the community and enable change with the community, and not just for the community.

United, our community will achieve big dreams. United, our community will empower our neighbors in need to transform their lives. Together, we will create a community where everyone can thrive!

Thank you to everyone who has worked to help our community over the years!

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*Site translation is completed through Google translate and may not be completely accurate.

Young student holding a thank you sign

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