First Presbyterian Church, Roanoke
Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Roanoke Area Ministries
Roanoke Area Ministries, or RAM, is a local ecumenical ministry serving the needy of the Roanoke Valley.  RAM provides support and serves as an advocate for the homeless and poor and helps people in need through a variety of programs, including: 
· Emergency financial assistance
· Employment counseling and placement
· Hot Midday meals served 365 days a year
· RAM House, a day shelter for the homeless

RAM's goal is to empower people to move from dependency to independence.  RAM focuses on community needs, putting aside all differences of race or creed. 

In the late 1960s, Roanoke area clergy became concerned about the growing numbers of people coming to their churches and synagogues, asking for assistance.  Many had been turned away from other agencies because they didn't fit the criteria for assistance.  Yet their needs were real.  In 1971, representative s of nine denominations met to establish an ecumenical urban ministry to develop and coordinate services to people in need.  RAM's first project was to deliver surplus food to the elderly and disabled.  As the needs grew, so did RAM.  In 1985 the RAM House opened its doors to the homeless in a building located at 824 Campbell Avenue SW that was donated by the Catholic Diocese of Richmond.

RAM's employment program has been helping people in need overcome the barriers that have kept them from holding jobs.  Barriers like no transportation, no childcare or a lack of basic workplace skills.  Last year, RAM provided short-term financial help for 5,000 people.  RAM's employment counselors assessed more than 300 potential workers and placed nearly 150 in jobs.  Young mothers, the elderly and the disabled account for nearly all applicants of emergency aid.  RAM's funds go toward rent and utilities, toward prescriptions and transportation.  RAM's help sometimes is all that stands between a family and homelessness. RAM also offers crucial support for those who do become homeless. About 130 people visit RAM House daily for a well-balanced, hot meal – for some, the only meal of the day.