By quinn holmquist, Coordinator of Community Engagement and Giving at Reality Ministries
You’ve probably seen our sign. You’ve perhaps spied us walking up Lamond and down Watts to Trinity Park. Perhaps you or your four-legged friend has gotten an effusive greeting from Weston, who loves people but might love dogs even more. Or maybe you’ve seen Sloan brazenly plowing a path down the middle of Lamond in his wheelchair, which he was compelled to do before the sidewalks were redone (praise!).
If we haven’t formally met, allow me to introduce our community: we’re Reality Ministries. Perched on the corner of Lamond and Gregson, we’re a community of 400 and growing friends with and without disabilities, sharing life and deepening in friendship.
And I’m quinn. I spent all of my undergrad tenure at Duke (2012-2016) walking down Trinity Ave, admiring the gardens on Watts, and landing at Reality, where I volunteered. I reconnected with the person who is now my wife at Reality and was often over at the apartment she rented on Monmouth while we dated. I’ve gone on many a stroll with Reality volunteers and supporters to where Watts meets Club. This neighborhood has been, in many ways, a space of welcome.
This is very much the case for our community at Reality. After high school, while most of us go on to the independence and freedom college promises, most people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) enter a void: without school, there are no regular social activities. Most places don’t hire people with disabilities, transportation is inaccessible, and friends are nowhere to be found.
This is where Reality Ministries comes in: we seek to be a community of belonging and friendship for people with and without disabilities, a place that counters the NO from the wider world with a YES to the goodness of all people. We gather daily at the Reality Center for groups that run the gamut: rock climbing, kayaking, and international cooking for the adventurous and songwriting and coloring & listening for our creatives. We have a talent show each spring, a Live Nativity in December and during the month of May, we’re taking 200 of our friends on retreat to the mountains.
We’re so grateful for our neighbors in Trinity Park. Steve Unruhe is Reality’s incoming board chair. Phil and Susan Jakes host a monthly meal for Reality friends in their home. We are greeted by neighbors as we go for walks down Watts Street and gather at the park. Several members of the Watts St Group Home come regularly to Reality, too.
If you’re interested in getting involved, I’d love to talk more. You could join us for a meal at our Cafe (scan the QR code on the picture!). You could join us as a volunteer at a morning or afternoon gathering but be careful…you might meet your new best friend here. And you could support us financially. We are unique in the nonprofit world in that over 75% of our funding comes from individual donors who love our community (not government funding or grants). You can find all these opportunities on our website at realityministries.org.
We are delighted to be down the street – please stop and say hello the next time you see us, or drop me a line below.