"I didn't know what I didn't know."


We hear this phrase frequently in the halls of M-POWER. At times it's uttered by clients; but more often than not, it's voiced by staff members or volunteers.


The unknown is a vulnerable place. To think you have the answers, only to be rocked to your core with what you "didn't know you didn't know" is something else. It's an education in humility.


When I first began my tenure at M-POWER I was to be here only a short while. The Board of Directors hired me as the interim with the responsibility of keeping the seat warm, signing checks, and making sure the organization didn't fall apart before they found a permanent Executive Director. More than ten years later I'm still here and still learning new things I didn't know I didn't know.


For starters, I had no idea how unique M-POWER's program offerings were to the Birmingham community. When I came to M-POWER in 2004, the M-POWER Health Center was and remains the only completely free health clinic in Jefferson County. It took me six months to realize there truly were no other options for those without health insurance or adequate health coverage.


I also had no idea how huge the problem of illiteracy was in our community. The statistic from ten years ago still remains. An estimated 13% of adults read below a 5th grade level. That's 90,000 of our neighbors who struggle with filling out job applications, reading work orders, helping children with homework, and reading the Bible on their own.


Beyond M-POWER's programs, I didn't really know what it meant to live in poverty. As a seminary student and someone interested in ethics, I had read countless books on the subject, to be sure. But books can make it easy to create a faceless cause, and at M-POWER, the faces and stories of our clients made the problem of poverty real. When you meet a woman who must choose to say with an abusive man or take her and her children to the streets it's difficult to remain apathetic.


Ten years later I'm still receiving an education. I know that I don't have a magic solution to end poverty for my neighbors, but God keeps using me, M-POWER, and our partners to help people develop the tools they need to have enough. Because ultimately that's what God desires for his people: wholeness, health, enough.


I am thankful that Christ calls all of us to work to make that possible for our neighbors. May the spirit of humility be always present within us as the Lord works to teach us more of what we do not know.


Christ's Peace,

Ryan Sig

 Executive Director   

Meet Sonya

Sonya Bumpers has been an M-POWER fixture since shortly after we opened our doors. Beginning her service as a board member, she was hired on as a staff member on November 4, 2002, a day she'll always remember as it marked her anniversary of being five years clean.


Director of the Health Center Laura Washington says,
"Sonya wears many hats in her role as Clinic Support Specialist and we appreciate her ability to wear them all well! We rely on her to keep her finger on the pulse of the community so that we can better service our clients. She is truly a joy to work with and be around.



Tell us a little bit about yourself including a few things we may not know about you.

"I'm a single mom of a twenty-year-old who desires to be a helpmate. I represented the State of Alabama for All Kids in Washington, D.C. where I got to meet the US Surgeon General. One of my fondest memories is getting to sit next to Coretta Scott King. She smelled like Delilah's water. I also shook Nick Saban's hand even though I'm an Auburn fan."


What is your role at M-POWER?

"I guess you could call me the clinic liaison. From opening and closing to everything in between, I'm the people part of the clinic."


What would people never guess you do in your role?

"I rely on my discernment when people present their stories to us. I've learned how to ask the right questions to get the true answer as to why patients are here and how we can best meet their needs. The Lord really speaks to me in that still small voice."


What are some nicknames people have for you at M-POWER?

"I guess a lot of people call me Ms. Bumpers or just Bumpers for short. Also, sometimes people refer to me as 'that short lady' when they don't remember my name."


What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?

"I enjoy the feeling of completion when a person presents a need, it gets assessed, and that person leaves with the need met, feeling better."


Before working here, what was the most unusual or interesting job you've ever had?

"I worked for the State of Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for ten years doing autopsies."


What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have outside of work?

"I love shopping at Steinmart. I enjoy serving the community through the Order of Eastern Star's "Friendly Sisters Chapter #27", Ronald McDonald House, and Birmingham AIDS Outreach. I love relaxing with family and friends and grilling."


What is one thing you couldn't live without?

"Love and respect from my family and friends."


What is your hidden talent?

"Cooking, singing and crafting - but they're not so hidden."


What is your favorite movie and book?

"Imitation of Life is my favorite movie, and my favorite book is the Prayer of Jabez. I always get something good out of it."


What is your favorite M-POWER memory?

"There are so many. I can remember a funny moment at a staff retreat years ago. I remember worlds colliding when friends of mine were having a house built by one of our volunteer's husband's companies. I loved the puppet shows during the Birthday Party for Jesus we used to host. I remember giving Artur Davis a tour of our building.


The funniest memory, though, had to be when we used to do benevolence and one person who didn't qualify came down to speak with me. He was a big man, 6'6" tall, and he was ready for a discussion with strong words. When he finally saw me he just deflated. I think it had something to do with our height difference, but the fight just left him."


What kind of legacy do you hope to leave?

"I hope to be known as someone whose level of integrity always spoke first, and to be remembered as someone whose heart was caring and kind." 

Watch This

For those who missed last month's Education Center graduation, take a few moments to watch Dorothy Martin's commencement speech to her classmates. Dorothy graduated from our Career-Readiness program on May 1 and started her full-time job at Jessie's Place the next day. She served as an encouragement and role model to her peers and inspired us with her faith and determination. Prepare to be inspired by her words!

Dorothy's Commencement Speech 
Dorothy's Commencement Speech

Education Center Update

Important Dates

First Semester

Instructor Training          Saturday, August 8, 2014

First Class Day             Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Last Class Day             Thursday, November 6, 2014


Second Semester

First Class Day            Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Last Class Day            Thursday, March 27, 2015


Volunteer Needs

Language and Math Instructors


Intake Schedule

Enrolling GED and Career-Readiness students now through July 15, 2014 for the next 12-week semester. Students have two steps to complete before eligible for class.

1.            Pre-testing Assessment

2.            Interview


Fall Schedule

Class Days

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays


Class Times

8:30AM - 1:30PM


Supplies Needed

Filler paper-wide ruled

3x5 index cards-lined



Dry Erase pens-asst. colors

Dry Erase Board erasers

Disinfectant wipes

Lysol spray


Feminine products


Styrofoam cups-small


Sugar substitute


Plastic plates-dinner and small

Plastic bowls

Plastic cups-5oz, 9oz, and 16oz

Plastic forks



To coordinate bringing supplies, email Rene Bradberry

Health Center Update

Important Dates

The Health Center will be closed the week of July 4 (June 30 to July 4). There will be no providers onsite. No daytime or evening clinics will be held. 


Volunteer Needs

Dispensary help

Front office / data entry


Supplies Needed

Bottled water


To coordinate bringing supplies, email Laura Washington

How is our work possible? Through the generosity of our faithful donors!

Donations to M-POWER support our important health and education programs which help people develop the tools to break the cycle of poverty.

Help us reach our $1 million goal by giving today online.

Donate Button

Upcoming Events 

Join us for our monthly Volunteer Orientation - the first step in becoming a volunteer at M-POWER!

Take advantage of our July lunch hour orientation, a new offering! 

June Volunteer Orientation 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM CDT


July Volunteer Orientation 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 from 12:00 PM to 12:45 PM CDT

Last Month in Photos


M-POWER is now on Instagram! Follow us @mpowerministries to stay connected.

Don't have an Instagram account? That's okay! See our feed below. 
It's rainy and dreary outside, but inside the Health Center Tynesia, Brenda and Erin are hard at work serving our patients. #health #wholeness #freeclinic #poverty
It's rainy and dreary outside, but inside the Health Center Tynesia, Brenda and Erin are hard at work serving our patients. #health #wholeness #freeclinic #poverty
It's rainy and dreary outside, but inside the Health Center Tynesia, Brenda and Erin are hard at work serving our patients. #health #wholeness #freeclinic #poverty
As we approach the summer months and summer heat, we need cases of water for our Health Center patients. If you're interested in donating, reply below or email bethany.rushing@mpowerministries.org. #water #health #poverty #wholeness
Thanks to Redeemer Community Church for a great work day! Pastor Joel Brooks helped us construct a tool shed for the community garden. #rccbirmingham #gardenprojects
Gettin' work done in the garden! #rccbirmingham #gardenprojects
We're so pleased with our snazzy new shed to hold our #communitygarden supplies! Thanks #rccbirmingham for all your hard work.
Our #communitygarden coordinator, Don, working hard in this beautiful bed of #larkspur. #flowers #gardening
Congratulations to Erin and Nic - winners of our first Social Media Contest!


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Contact Information

M-POWER Ministries
Physical Address: 
4022 4th Avenue South 
Birmingham, Alabama 35222 

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 321233
Birmingham, AL 35232