In the fight against poverty, Action Ministries is celebrating those who give and those who receive assistance.
On Monday, Labor Day, the nonprofit will hold its inaugural Action Dash, a 5K run/walk that benefits housing, education and hunger programs for low-income and homeless people in Augusta.
Adults, children and their pets are invited to participate in superhero garb.
“We call them action heroes,” said Laurie Cook, who was named the director of development last month. “An action hero is somebody who gives help to those in need. But it’s also a person in need who takes action to better their situation.”
ACTION MINISTRIES has already had a big year. The nonprofit is celebrating the success of several new programs in Augusta and across Georgia.
“We’re pretty pumped for the growth and potential in Augusta,” said John R. Moeller Jr., the president and CEO of Action Ministries. “The Action Dash is in five cities on the same day. It’s a massive effort to coordinate. It’s a statewide effort, and I think what we’re doing here in Augusta may be the biggest of all.”
Moeller touted Action Ministries’ expanding programs and 44-year track record in Augusta during a visit to the mayor’s office last week.
Action Ministries representatives stopped by the Augusta-Richmond County Municipal Building and awarded Mayor Deke Copenhaver the title of honorary action hero for his “commitment to public service and the people of Augusta.”
“Super-villains better beware,” said Copenhaver, wearing a blue cape on his back.
Moeller told Copenhaver that while the Action Dash raises money for programs, it also raises awareness about poverty and its solutions.
“Part of what Action Ministries is trying to do is grow the awareness of what we’re doing across the community,” Moeller said.
THE ORGANIZATION was founded in Augusta in 1967 as Augusta Urban Ministries. It was created with the help of several area Methodist churches and, although ecumenical, still maintains connections to the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. Today its ministries are diverse.
The agency operates a free furniture bank to provide household items and appliances to families in need after fires and floods, along with a bike ministry and annual coat drive.
In August, Action Ministries began providing services at the Maxwell House, a 216-unit development that serves low-income adults in downtown Augusta. A $100,000 grant from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs allows Action Ministries to provide housing vouchers to homeless people with disabilities in 13 of the units.
THIS SUMMER, it also kicked off Smart Lunch, Smart Kid to supply brown-bag lunches to children who rely on reduced-price lunches during the school year. Volunteers made sandwiches for 800 children a day, five days a week, for 10 weeks.
In the spring Action Ministries began work on eight new transitional houses for homeless families in Augusta. The organization received a $309,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to turn eight single-family homes into transitional houses.
This month, it will kick off its White Christmas program to provide food and toys to low-income families at Christmas. About 900 families with more than 1,800 children usually take part.
“Poverty is a sweeping issue to try to address. Action Dash is something everyone can do,” Moeller said. “Folks are getting involved.”
On race day, prizes will be awarded to adults, children and pets in the best superhero costume.
“We’re inviting the community to come out and join us because we believe everyone can be an action hero and come out and support their local community,” Moeller said. “You can take action to fight poverty here in Augusta.”