Lisa and DeeDee find a supportive community

At the heart of UMAR’s mission is an effort to promote community inclusion for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Working with businesses, churches, and other organizations across western North Carolina, we help identify and facilitate opportunities for our participants to get involved in their communities in ways that matter to them. 

Lisa and DeeDee, UMAR residents living in Winston-Salem, have found their opportunity to get involved and make a difference in their community by volunteering at the Maple Springs United Methodist Church Food Pantry.

Food Pantry Manager Bill Blackburn didn’t hesitate to welcome Lisa and DeeDee to his team. His daughter, Jennifer, also lives in a UMAR group home. He knows well the need to inspire a sense of purpose and personal value in his daughter's life and others living with disabilities.

“Both of these ladies are very passionate about doing this work,” Blackburn said. “I love their attitudes toward helping others.”

Working alternating shifts, each one volunteering every other Wednesday morning, Lisa and DeeDee help pack bags of food, sort new donations, and restock the pantry. Blackburn said not only are they enthusiastic and motivated team members, they inspire compassion within their community. 

“DeeDee said for years she has wanted to work in a food pantry because she cares about people and especially those who do not have food or are living on the street. She gets excited when she finishes her day as she knows she has helped to make a difference in someone's day,” Blackburn said. “Lisa has told me that she loves serving all the people in the community and when she works behind the counter as folks are choosing their foods, you can see a big smile on her face.” 

As Lisa and DeeDee make a difference at the food pantry, the food pantry is making a difference in UMAR homes located in Forsyth Country. Group Home Manager Dorothy Spencer said the Maple Springs Food pantry has been a blessing to both residents and staff in the three homes she manages in Winston-Salem.

“[The pantry] helps overall with our monthly budget with food and allows us to give more to the residents' needs and overall care,” Spencer said. “The love that the church has for our organization goes beyond the call of help. It reaches out to our hearts as well.” 

Group Home Manager Brian Young, who works with homes in High Point and Greensboro, said they’ve also been able to save on groceries with several non-perishable items such as pasta, nuts, and dried fruit. With the impact of inflation and rise in food costs on his homes, Young called the pantry a “blessing.” 

“We are so thankful for the wonderful work the Maple Springs team is doing by serving so many individuals and families by blessing everyone with the much-needed food supplies,” Young said.

UMAR homes are just a few that benefit from the pantry. Blackburn estimates the client-choice pantry serves about 40 families each week. Each family is allowed up to 150 items per month, which goes a long way when sticking to a budget. Through their hard work and the generosity of fellow neighbors, the Maple Springs Food Pantry—with the help of Lisa and DeeDee—ensures that bellies are full and hearts are fuller.

“One of the things we are most proud of is that all of our volunteers show so much love and kindness to all those who come to us,” Blackburn said. “Lisa and DeeDee add to that by their hard work and their friendly smiles. They’re proud of the work they do, and we’re proud to have them with us.”

Donations are critical to our ability to provide much needed items such as food, clothing, toiletries and transportation for UMAR participants. A gift to UMAR can help ensure those we serve have what they need for a quality of live they deserve.

Make an impact with a donation today.  


UMAR is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit on a mission to promote community inclusion, independence, and growth for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities through residential, vocations, and cultural enrichment opportunities. All contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Financial information about this organization and a copy of its license are available from the State Solicitation Licensing Branch at 919.814.5400. The license is not an endorsement by the State.