Watertown and Jefferson County Urban Mission emergency assistance programs.

Dozens of churches work with Watertown Urban Mission as well as other businesses and non-profits to help the less fortunate. While many services and referrals are available, some of the focus is on food, housing, shelter, meals, and similar basic needs. However, the true goal is to provide people a hand out, and help them rise about other challenges they may be facing.

Not only can qualified working poor or low income people in Watertown get help, but the mission will also provide services across Jefferson County and maybe nearby rural towns. All resources are limited, and depend heavily on donations as well as government grants from programs such as the Emergency Food and Shelter Program.

Critical Needs is a form of emergency assistance. It serves as a safety net for people or families with no other place to turn to for help. The Urban Mission will advocate on behalf of the poor, provide them basic needs, and more.

What may be available from Critical Needs is wide ranging. It depends on funding levels, and that can change from even day to day. Some of what may be provided in Jefferson County is as follows. While a formal application process is in effect, most of the aid is usually provided on a first come and served basis.

  • Gasoline vouchers - For local transportation to a critical medical appointment or job interview.
  • Baby supplies - Free formula, diapers, and more for low income parents or single parents.
  • Prescription medications - Some may be free, others are discounted.
  • Referrals - The mission and its staff have a wealth of information on programs to help pay a security deposit for the homeless, emergency loans, rent help, HEAP utility bill assistance, and more.
  • Seasonal programs - There is back to school supplies for Watertown area children, free Christmas gifts or toys, holiday meals, and more, such as winter coats.

To either donate or apply for help from Critical needs, the number is 315-782-8440. Or the location of the center is 247 Factory Street, Watertown, New York.




Watertown Urban Mission Food Pantry provides hundreds of families per month with a few days worth of groceries and food items. Many churches and volunteers also donate to this center, and low income families and seniors may receive surplus food, nonperishable items, and very limited financial support when it is available.

This program also relies on key partners. So the mission will also work with the Food Bank of Central New York to obtain surplus commodities and food through the USDA. This allows a larger number of people to get help every month. Some of what may be passed out includes free canned goods, milk, cereals, other non-perishables, rice, personal hygiene supplies and even fresh fruits and vegetables.

Churches may also have soup kitchens or meal programs on site. These can ensure children, the homeless, entire families, and really anyone that needs help can get it. Some will also serve special Thanksgiving or Christmas meals too.

When seeking help from the Urban Ministry of Watertown, proof is always needed. This can include, but is not limited to, photo identification, the names and birthdates of everyone in your household, social security cards, pay stubs, and more. All aid is limited, so the charity will ensure only the truly less fortunate get assistance.




A thrift store is also available at Urban Ministries. This will sell gently used furniture, clothing, and other items across the region and community. Anyone can shop there, regardless of their income. This is available across Watertown, Jefferson County, and even other communities too. There may be school supplies and clothing, household appliances, and many other items sold at the thrift store, which is actually the largest in the region.

The location of these various programs and the Urban Mission is at 247 Factory Street, Watertown, New York 13601. Call (315) 782-8440.

By Jon McNamara

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