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The Ark Gives Hope and Help To Neighbors in Need

 The Ark gives hope and help to neighbors in need 

They’re in the business of sharing hope with neighbors in need.

Last year, The Ark United Ministry Outreach Center in Athens helped more than 240 neighbors with over $320,000 in emergency financial assistance.

The Ark, a coalition of over 30 religious congregations, aims to help low-wage workers, who through no fault or decision of their own, face drastically reduced hours, lay-offs, medical issues or other unexpected expenses. Clients receive emergency assistance with rent, utilities and other necessities. Since opening in 1989, the Ark has provided over $1 million in financial assistance to more than 35,000 individuals and families.

But The Ark isn’t only there for emergencies. They’re also helping Athens-area individuals and families learn and grow.

“We’re offering financial education services and micro-lending services to provide opportunities for upward mobility,” explained Lucy Hudgens, The Ark’s executive director.

And one of their partners in providing this support? The Athens Area Community Foundation.

“The first time I heard about the AACF was in 2011 — one year into my job at The Ark,” explained Lucy. “The AACF was working with local nonprofits and community leaders to address the need for financial literacy and access to asset-building programs in the community.”

Those sessions led to an important partnership.

“I linked up with the AACF for those planning sessions,” she added. “And the AACF ended up being a crucial partner in our development of Common Wealth Athens, an education and asset-building program here at The Ark.”

Through that partnership, Common Wealth Athens continues to serve the community today.

“AACF was the driving force behind Common Wealth Athens,” Lucy said. “They connected us with dedicated donors, linked us with community partnerships, and leveraged their resources to help us build a program model that’s thriving and providing an essential community service seven years later.”

But the support of Common Wealth Athens is just one perk of their partnership with AACF. Over the years, The Ark has been able to benefit from the community leadership AACF provides.

“AACF is extremely knowledgeable, not only about the needs in our community but also about agencies and organizations doing various types of work,” she explained. “Many of The Ark’s partners and collaborators have banned together to maintain a fund at the AACF to support accountability among organizations helping those in need. The Compassion Network Fund at AACF exists to support charity tracker subscriptions for local agencies to make sure they are not duplicating services, therefore, maximizing the impact of their donors’ philanthropic dollars.”

Helping The Ark find success means Ark volunteers will be able to help more Athens-area neighbors find hope and success, too.

“The best part [of this work] is being able to be there for our neighbors during their time of need and to have the opportunity to provide hope to those who are in despair,” explained Lucy. “Most families who come to The Ark are stressed and often in complete financial despair. Being able to help our neighbors regain financial stability is so rewarding.”

And with help from AACF, they can share more of that hope.

“The Athens Area Community Foundation cares deeply for the community and that passion creates a huge impact,” she added. “They tirelessly work to advocate for, connect with and leverage their resources. That helps us make a meaningful and lasting impact.”



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