Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - 20
Right: Cobb EMC employees collect business
clothing to help MUST clients have a second
chance at stable careers. Below: MUST's annual
Gobble Jog brings runners to Marietta.
'The MUST Hope House not
only gives those families
a place to sleep but also
provides them with a
sense of dignity and
-Dwight " Ike " Reighard,
MUST Ministries president and CEO
Other EMCs also have
supported MUST Ministries'
projects in their local communities,
using funds from Operation Round
Up. In Operation Round Up,
members opt to round their
monthly bills to the next dollar, and
the difference is put into a fund that supports charitable causes
in the community; the average annual member donation is $6.
Amicalola EMC's Operation Round Up Board has donated a
total of $9,000 over the past eight years to help MUST Ministries
with emergency rental assistance for families in its service area.
MUST was one of 10 food banks that benefited from a
$50,000 grant in 2020 from the Sawnee EMC Foundation in
Cumming. The foundation also granted the organization funds
in 2019 to provide rental assistance to families facing possible
In 2020 and 2021, Hiram-based GreyStone Power Foundation
donated a total of $8,000 in Operation Round Up funds to
MUST Ministries to support clients in Smyrna.
'Our whole thing is dignity'
Another new MUST project, a mobile food pantry, began
in October. A refurbished bus delivers fresh produce and other
items to identified food deserts (areas with limited access to
affordable and nutritious food) in Cobb County.
Reighard sees a future of additional mobile services and
an expansion in southern Cobb County. The ministry's Smyrna
location, for example, serves twice as many people as do Marietta
and Canton but has the smallest facility. In south Cobb,
Reighard envisions adding a full-service operation with
a grocery store for clients.
" One of the biggest things people lose when they're in poverty
is choices, " he says. " Our whole thing is dignity. We try to
create parity, not charity. Parity lifts that person; charity makes
them feel like they're beholden to someone. "
Reighard pushed for opening a thrift store in Marietta so
clients could shop for clothes like everyone else. He also advocated
for parents to select their children's Christmas gifts among
the new toys donated each year. Last year, 5,500 children each
received an average of 12 presents from MUST Ministries.
20 Georgia Magazine May 2022
Among other services are
34 neighborhood food pantries
embedded in schools, serving
more than 100,000 students and
their families in the Cobb County,
Cherokee County and Marietta
And during the last fiscal year, the MUST workforcedevelopment
program helped 500 people looking for jobs and
found employment for 300 job seekers, pumping $8 million into
the local economy, Reighard says.
None of MUST Ministries' work would be possible without
the service of and donations raised by 17,000 volunteers. During
the early days of the pandemic, volunteers were not permitted
to help, and staffers stepped in where needed. At the same
time, the number of clients peaked, so the nonprofit focused on
providing the most basic needs: food and shelter.
And while client numbers have stabilized some, ministry
leaders aren't sure they ever will return to the pre-pandemic
level, which averaged about 33,000 clients annually.
Reighard, who also serves as pastor of Piedmont Church
in Marietta, says he was a " fan " of MUST long before taking the
organization's helm. His congregation volunteers with and gives
generously to the nonprofit.
Reighard says his love for service came from his mother,
Ruth. When he was growing up near the Georgia Institute of
Technology in Atlanta, his mother would feed the homeless who
lived at a nearby encampment.
" My mother would get in trouble, " Reighard recalls. " Neighbors
would say, 'Ruth, you're going to get hurt.' And my mother
would look at them and say: 'I know that's somebody's son and
might be somebody's dad or could be somebody's brother, and I
have all these. I would hope to God if one of mine were down on
his luck, somebody would at least feed him.' "
What would Reighard's mother think of MUST Ministries?
" She would be proud, " Reighard says. " She would say,
'You're helping people who need help.' "
Laura Berrios is a freelance writer from Alpharetta.
For more information, visit mustministries.org.
Georgia Magazine - May 2022
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - May 2022
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - 4
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - 5
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Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - May 2022 - Cover4