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United Church Outreach Ministry values individuals and builds community in southwestern Kent County by providing material and educational assistance to meet basic needs, improve quality of life, and promote self-sufficiency.
In 1969 the women of Smith Memorial started a food collection and hot lunch program for students at neighboring Hall Elementary School (now Cesar Chavez). As they worked with the schools, they realized the needs were much broader and deeper than a lunch program. They formed a small food pantry in the basement of the church and started distributing used clothing as well. UCOM soon became the Key Pantry for southwest Grand Rapids, Wyoming & Grandville. In 1985, GRPS mandated homework for at-risk students and UCOM’s flagship program, Homework House, was formed, providing one-on-one tutoring to students. Since then UCOM has maintained a focus on meeting a balance of material and educational needs with the mission of providing resources for living and hope for life. UCOM stands on a foundation of loving service in response to the changing needs of the community, and our history in the area reflects our pledge to be present to help the people of this area to help themselves.