Smyrna Town Council donated $5,000 to the Smyrna-Clayton Ministerium at Monday night's council meeting.
Mayor Joanne Masten made the motion for the donation after recently learning the ministerium was running low on funds and an ill resident needed help. Masten said the ministerium took up a collection at the 9/11 memorial service, but unless a large donation was made the ministerium would need help to continue assisting the community.
"I'm not sure what the citizens would do without the ministerium," Masten said.
The ministerium is a religious non-profit in town that has helped people in need for the last 50 years. Residents are currently assisted by the ministerium through the food pantry, a personal items closet, assistance with utility bills and more. The town reallocated a $2,500 donation earlier this spring to assist with utility bills; the donation was previously given to the ministerium to help local victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Rev. Dr. John Riley, the treasurer of the ministerium, said the group has helped 12,000 citizens in the last 12 months. The $2,500 reallocated for utility bills earlier this year assisted 14 families. The ministerium doesn't discriminate, but does validate to verify a resident does need the assistance. Rev. Dr. Riley is the pastor at First Presbyterian Church.
Masten said she wanted to help the ministerium get through the end of the year, especially with the cold winter months ahead.
"First of all, the town is not a charity. We can't help everyone but I recognize there's lot of people who aren't as fortunate as us," Masten said.
Councilwoman Valerie White asked Councilman Robert Johnson if he would feel more comfortable taking the item to the Finance Committee for discussion before council makes a decision.
Johnson said he was comfortable with council making the decision on its own.
"We need to give back to the citizens. It's a worthy cause," Johnson said.
Moreover, it was pointed out that while council would be donating to the ministerium, some of the funds would come back to the town through the payment of resident utility bills.
Councilman Jeff Flairty said there is clearly a need in town and he sees it when residents come to the Utility Committee meetings with issues. However, he wanted to push a little further and not just have council make a donation.
"As individuals, we should rather than just us the town support this good organization, we as individuals should consider contributing in kind," Flairty.
He said council didn't necessarily need to match the donation but thought members should also make contribute.
Once the motion for the donation was unanimously approved, Vice Mayor Regina Brown gave a personal check to Rev. Dr. Riley and encouraged others to do the same.
Following the approval, Rev. Dr. Riley reiterated to council members that the ministerium is a 501c3 and is a legitimate organization.
"Thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting what we do," Riley said.
Email Jennifer Dailey at firstname.lastname@example.org.