our story

our mission

We engage our community to serve and advocate on behalf of those affected by poverty by providing food and nutrition, promoting health and wellness, and by laying the foundations of home.

our vision

A community where everyone is as healthy as they can be, has excellent nutrition and has a stable home.

40 years of service

Since 1981, Urban Ministries of Wake County has responded to our neighbors in crisis by providing basic needs – food, medicine and shelter. Lately, we’ve placed renewed emphasis on looking beyond the moment – helping clients to build a higher quality of life.

In January of 2021, we’ll be celebrating 40 years of service at Urban Ministries of Wake County. 40 years of providing basic needs to those who need it most.

Check out more of our roots and story of how we’ve come this far below!


timeline of important events


Responding to unmet needs in the community, downtown Raleigh congregations of diverse faiths and denominations form an organization known initially as the Urban Ministry Center.


In June 1984, The Ark Shelter opens at 410 S. Blount Street, offering emergency shelter to 25 homeless men.

In October 1985, Urban Ministries opens the Open Door Clinic under the leadership of Dr. Donald T. Lucey. The program was one of the earliest free and charitable clinics established in North Carolina.


In January 1986, The Ark Shelter expands to accommodate 10 women.

In July 2000, it becomes an emergency shelter for homeless single women.

In November 2001, Urban Ministries’ homeless shelter is renamed the Helen Wright Center for Women in honor of Sister Helen Wright, the agency’s first director.


In April 2017, Urban Ministries’ Food Pantry becomes the largest in Wake County to offer client choice, allowing food-insecure families to choose their own groceries instead of receiving pre-bagged food.

In October 2018, Urban Ministries of Wake County announces a grant from Wake County to help fund a new 73-bed Helen Wright Center for Women. The shelter opened in June 2020.


           40th anniversary!