“The mission of Matthew 25: Ministries is to fulfill Matthew 25:34-40 of the New Testament by providing nutritional food to the hungry, clean water to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, affordable shelter to the homeless, medical care to the ill, and humanitarian supplies to those in need. Additionally, Matthew 25: Ministries is committed to fulfilling Matthew 25:40 by educating the public on the conditions and needs of the “least of these” and by providing resources for action.”
We had the opportunity to talk to Ben Williams, Disaster Relief Coordinator at Matthew 25: Ministries.
Ben, it is so great to be talking to you, and we appreciate all the good work Matthew 25: Ministries is doing for our community. Can you tell us about your organization?
Matthew 25: Ministries is a federally recognized 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and an international humanitarian aid and disaster relief organization helping people in need. It was founded in 1991 by Rev. Wendell Mettey. He began the work of our organization by carrying suitcases of supplies and distributing them to the needy in Nicaragua. Today, we provide aid across the United States and to over 60 other countries worldwide. We work with distribution partners in these countries who are well-established, know the needs of the area and request needed and useful items. Each year, we ship out over 800 containers of aid, helping more than 20,000,000 people.
When I first started at Matthew 25: Ministries 10 years ago, we had a 20-member staff. Today we have over 60 full- and part-time staff members and welcome more than 66,000 volunteers each year. It’s been amazing to watch us grow over the years. Because of our growing list of generous corporate donors and our fantastic volunteers, we’re now able to help many more people. Many of our most significant growth spurts have come as a result of a catastrophic natural disaster – when disaster strikes, individuals, and businesses know that they can rely on Matthew 25 to respond.
Our only location is in Cincinnati, OH. This has helped us keep our overhead costs low—more than 99% of our cash and in-kind donations go toward programming… Our location is also central to much of the corporate industry that provides our products for shipment.
What does your day-to-day at Matthew 25: Ministries look like?
I am the Disaster Relief Coordinator. I am constantly watching the weather and monitoring situations here in the US and around the world that could potentially turn into natural disasters. When a disaster strikes, I also determine how we can best help.
I make sure all our supplies are prepped, and all our vehicles are ready. We are always ready to respond in the event of a natural disaster. I am also constantly researching, working on social media, and helping out with other marketing projects.
Working for a non-profit is different and exciting each day since all our staff wears many different hats.
Ben, how does Matthew 25: Ministries work with the communities in the affected areas?
Matthew 25: Ministries has always worked through local partners — no one knows the area better than the people who live there. So when a disaster strikes, we try to connect directly with churches, municipalities, or other groups in the area to find out the needs of their communities.
Because we’re a private sector organization, we can usually respond to a situation within 24 hours if needed and immediately begin helping the community. We are able to get in very quickly and distribute needed supplies directly to victims or to the shelters or services we determine are doing the most effective job. Timing is very important – we do not want to impede the first responders but we want to be able to help those people who have been displaced as soon as we can. There have been very few situations where we’ve been temporarily restricted access into an area, and it’s been mainly because of safety concerns.
One of the reasons we work with local partners is so that can continue to follow up after the initial relief distribution to see how they’re doing and if they need more supplies. The main goal of these partnerships is to make sure that the right people are getting what they need. Sometimes there are also repeat natural disasters in the same area, and when we have established partnerships in place, it’s easier to get the people the help they need.
Can you walk us through what happens after you hear of an area that has been affected?
We have an assessment team that goes to the location with initial truckloads of supplies including personal care kits, cleaning kits, tarps, water, etc. We distribute directly to the affected population and also evaluate local groups who might be long-term partners. Then we follow up with trucks of other supplies if needed.
What are your typical business challenges?
We rely on donations to do our work. We have some great corporations that help out with bulk product donations and many individuals, groups, businesses and foundations that provide financial support. During a disaster, our goal is always to move as quickly as possible, and to help as many people as possible.
We’ve been really blessed to be supported by such a generous community and by our corporate and distribution partners. We’ve always had the resources to respond when we’re needed.
Where do you typically receive donations from?
We have many corporate donor partners who send us a lot of products that are typically overstock, mislabeled, off spec, etc. – we receive more than 15,000,000 pounds of products a year from these donors.
Cintas Corporation is a corporate partner that has been with us almost since day 1, and they’ve become a very important disaster relief partner as well. They primarily donate uniforms and clothing related items to Matthew 25, but they also donate top-quality first aid and safety supplies.
Our other big disaster response partner is Proctor & Gamble. We receive products from almost every P&G brand for our disaster relief and their quality personal care, cleaning, and paper product supplies are always greatly appreciated.
We also rely heavily on product donations from our community of Greater Cincinnati and the surrounding area.
Of course, the biggest benefit for our partners is that they are doing something important and needed for the disaster victims and the community. Additionally, companies that donate products to Matthew 25 typically get cost savings because they do not have to landfill or incinerate their leftover products. They are also doing something positive for the environment. People want to buy from companies that demonstrate corporate responsibility.
How can people and corporations partner with Matthew 25: Ministries to give back to the community?
We want people to help in the way that works best for them – with their time, finances, or product donations. We get around 66,000 volunteers a year who help us sort and prepare products for distribution. The help we receive has a much bigger impact on the recipients than most people realize – physically and emotionally. We are grateful for all the help we receive.
It’s such an honor for Automile to have your organization as a customer. How is it working out for you?
It is going great. With the help of Automile, we are able to help more people and get the vehicles carrying the disaster-relief supplies to the right locations in a timely manner. A lot of times we drive to affected areas to hand out resources and we monitor vehicles to ensure the supplies are indeed being delivered to those people in that location.
To the entire team at Matthew 25: Ministries, Automile thanks you for all your hard work and time in providing selflessly to those in need.
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