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Critical Needs


The Critical Needs Program at the Watertown Urban Mission provides emergency assistance to individuals and families in need. It is a safety net in our community to help fill in the gaps for struggling individuals and families. If you are in a difficult spot in your life and don’t know where else to turn, we may be able to help you, by advocating for you or providing you with some simple items to get you through.

In some cases and dependent on the availability of funding and supplies, Critical Needs can help provide for basic needs through vouchers to the store, gas vouchers for a medical appointment, baby formula for an overstretched family, or even help with prescription.

This program depends heavily on the generosity of donors and the availability of items in our Impossible Dream Thrift Store. Our client advocate will work with a person to address their immediate need and offer assistance to find ways to become self-sustaining.

The Critical Needs Program provides help for more than 4,200 households and more than 200 homeless neighbors in our community every year. About 25 percent of the people who come to the Critical Needs Coordinator have never been to the Mission, but the overall demand remains fairly constant.

This shows that many of the people who are served at the Watertown Urban Mission get the help they need to get back on track.

The Critical Needs Program handles special needs drives as well—Backpacks & School Supplies, Winter Coats, Toys for Tots, and more. We collect items all year round to ensure we can help students start the year right, help others stay warm and for many kids, make Christmas more enjoyable.


How Do I Get Help Through Critical Needs?

The Critical Needs Program is a walk-in service. All you have to do to get help is come to the Mission, sign in and once the program coordinator is available, you will be seen. The Critical Needs Program is designed to help you in any way possible when you're facing a difficult situation. Sometimes the help you need isn't available at the Mission, but your Critical Needs coordinator is an advocate for you to the programs in the community that may be able to help.

Otherwise, if help can be given directly, we will assist you. If you need clothing, we can give you a voucher to the Impossible Dream. If you need other household items, the same. Just be honest and open about your situation. We cannot give direct financial assistance, but we can be creative in finding ways to meet your needs so that you can get back on your feet.

If you can't make it to the Mission, you can call at 782-8440, but remember, coming in is best and you don't need an appointment!

How can I help the Critical Needs Program?

You can help in three ways—giving your time for one of our special drives, giving your gently used items or new supplies for distribution, or by making financial donations. Donations are tax deductable because the Watertown Urban Mission is a nonprofit 501 (c) 3.

Every summer, your donations of new or gently used backpacks and new school supplies will go toward the backpack distribution at the start of the school year. In the fall and winter, your donations of coats, hats, gloves, scarves, mittens and more will go to keep families warm. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, your donations of new, unwrapped toys and gifts will ensure that young people not served by other area programs get something special for Christmas.

Please call us at 315-782-8440 for more information, or stop by at 247 Factory Street, Watertown, to drop off any donations.

In the Mission: Possible Capital Campaign, First Presbyterian Church of Watertown’s contribution has been recognized in the naming of the Critical Needs Program Office for the late Rev. Al Elmer, former associate pastor and Bridge Program Case Manager.


Robert Bowen, Critical Needs Coordinator
Robert Bowen, Critical Needs Coordinator


Matthew 25:35-36: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’


© Copyright 2010 Watertown Urban Mission
247 Factory Street Watertown, NY 13601
Mission Phone: (315) 782-8440 Fax: (315) 782-8441 Thrift Store Phone: (315) 782-0090
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