Karen Johnson UCM

Karen Johnson

United Christian Ministries is growing to better serve our community.

In the 30-plus years that UCM has served Jackson County, we have provided well over 100,000 bags of food to thousands of families. UCM also coordinates with other local agencies to prevent eviction and utility disconnection. We continue to be a primary source of support for Jackson County residents, serving more families each year.

United Christian Ministries was created by a consortium of Jackson County churches that wanted to pool resources to provide assistance to residents of Jackson County. Originally staffed by a single staff member (and dozens of volunteers), UCM has added a second staff position – director of outreach.

I was hired for this position last spring, and am responsible for social media, outreach, publicity and fundraising. I work in tandem with the executive director.

Karen Johnson, a new executive director, comes to UCM with many years of experience in accounting, finance and volunteer service. Karen grew up in a military family, living overseas and stateside. Karen went to college, raised a family and then finished her degree in accounting.

She has worked for a variety of companies – construction, computer sales and phone systems, finally retiring as a finance officer of local government. After retirement, she worked at Harris Regional Hospital in the billing department.

“I decided that the mountains called to me, too, and I decided to stay. Actually, grandchildren played a big part in that decision,” Johnson said.

Johnson began as a volunteer treasurer with UCM.

“I was humbled at the amount of generosity in Jackson County,” she said. “UCM is an organization that is funded by Jackson County residents and feeds Jackson County residents. It is a local agency. I am honored to accept the job as director and am excited about serving Jackson County residents.”

United Christian Ministries operates a food pantry, and donations are always needed. Our most needed items are coffee, canned vegetables and fruits, pastas, soups, tuna, peanut butter, jelly, cereal, oatmeal and syrup. Donations of paper goods and personal items (shampoo, toothpaste, etc.) are also welcome. Donations may be brought to the building during open hours or placed in the donation carts inside Food Lion and Harold’s Supermarket.

UCM is 100 percent funded by donations and grants, and all monies received allow us to continue serving the county. Donations may be made at UCM’s building at 191 Skyland Drive, mailed to P.O. Box 188 in Sylva, or made online at www.ucmhelp.com. Volunteers are also needed to fill food bags and greet clients. For more information, call UCM at 586-8228, or visit www.ucmhelp.com.

Joyce Pope is director of outreach for United Christian Ministries.