United Community Ministries assistance programs.

United Community Ministries offers several services in Fairfax County Virginia. The goal is to stabilize a crisis and the work programs available help the person get back on track over the long term. The assistance includes the following, with more details below.

  • Warm Coat for seniors and kids.
  • UCM Basic Needs Program offers financial help.
  • Free Back to School Supply Program.
  • Job programs from the Fairfax County Education and Employment Work Center.
  • Literacy and Citizenship classes for immigrants and/or refugees.

The Basic Needs Program from United Community Ministries assists those low to moderate income families who need immediate help with retaining their current housing, paying their rent or meeting urgent needs. The  services and financial assistance can provide grants for security deposits to prevent homelessness, one time rental assistance, and also free food from the pantry.

UCM also focuses on women fleeing domestic violence. This service is part of the Crisis Intervention Program. Staff provide critical supports and services to women as well as children, such as safe and stable housing and intensive counseling. There may also be legal aid to families who are fleeing situations of domestic violence.

Warm Coat Day is for children and seniors. The event is held as an annual United Community Ministries event that takes place on the first Saturday of each November. It does rely on donations from stores and individuals in Fairfax County. This is an invaluable service for qualifying families, many who live in poverty. They will often begin lining up in the early hours of the morning to be sure that all family members have warm outerwear for the winter.

During the month of September as well as October, UCM collects new and gently used jackets, warm coats, boots and accessories for adults and children. The items are then distributed to those in need, with priority for the elderly and children. Anyone can contribute to help with Warm Coat Day by donating gently used jackets (new or gently used, and clean), coats, mittens, gloves, hats, caps, wraps, scarves and other winter items sized from infant to adult.





The main goal of the annual United Community Ministries Back to School Program is to ensure that dozens if not hundreds of children from low income homes are prepared for academic success by providing them with new backpacks loaded with free school supplies. There may also be uniforms passed out too.

Additionally, the program gives them the opportunity to explore healthy lifestyle changes and get ready for a new school year by having some new goods. In addition to the service passing out backpacks to the student, dozens of volunteers also serve refreshments, give snacks or meals, perform free health screenings for the kids, and run interactive information booths.

Legal representatives as well as lawyers with the Fairfax County Legal Aid for Immigrants Program provide advice about and answers to immigration-related concerns and issues. All of the guidance is given based on a confidential initial consultation. The representative will also discuss whether a civil case can be accepted through the program. Note there will often be fees as low as $50, but the goal of United Community Ministries is to provide support throughout a court case.

Immigrants can also get help from the Progreso Center for Literacy and Citizenship. This service empowers immigrants and even refugees through citizenship services, legal support, education and leadership development. There may be referrals to After-School Programs, scholarship services, and early childhood day care and learning service for newcomers. There is also a program that prepares children for kindergarten and beyond as well as a Healthy Families service.

Traveler’s Aid from UCM of Fairfax County will lend a helping hand along the way for newcomers to the region. The Traveler's Aid Program provides everything from gasoline vouchers to discounted bus tickets home to individuals who are stranded while traveling. Those who are homeless in the Fairfax County region for more than 30 days receive assistance as well. There may be support given to them for traveling home to family members who are willing to help them get back on their feet. If this Traveler’s Aid service can’t meet the request, then locate other charities that may have free gasoline cards or vouchers.




Community engagement is a main focus at United Community Ministries. The non-profit and its staff strongly encourage residents of all ages to take on leadership roles as well as make connections in the community. Anyone, no matter their income, can transform the Fairfax community into a safe area.

In addition to all of the site-specific assistance programs listed above, UCM is involved in the Mount Vernon Opportunity Neighborhood Initiative. This is a community program that engages local residents in support of children as well as teenagers and what they need to be successful in school.

The United Community Ministries Education and Employment Work Center will help people achieve and maintain a state of financial stability. The process offers continuing education and career development opportunities. The agency, and really any employer, believes this is an essential component to success.

Each year the program will assist individuals in obtaining employment; increase computer literacy, and help people become job-ready. The center is effective at meeting employment goals.

UCM has vouchers for the thrift store. The free coupons and voucher may be redeemed at the Back Porch Thrift Store. Based on donations, there may be amazing deals on low cost jewelry, clothing, Christmas toys, housewares, furniture, and beds. All of the main raised by United Community Ministries benefits the community in a variety of other ways too. Note that any donations from the public to the Back Porch Thrift Store are welcome and they will also be 100 percent tax deductible.





The Back Porch Thrift Store serves as a training site for the underemployed or jobless too. This is where workers gain practical experience with retail skills. The center also encourages community engagement as well as contributions through the "recycling" of gently used donated items. The money raised is also going to pay for the rent and financial aid programs run.

For more details, including referrals, United Community Ministries is located at 7979 Janna Lee Ave., Alexandria, VA 22306. Call them at 703-347-6042.


By Jon McNamara

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