From its inception, Reality has focused on the overlooked and underserved populations in Durham, beginning with those with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities.
From its inception in December 2007, Reality Ministries Inc. (501c3) has focused on the overlooked and underserved populations in Durham, beginning with those with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (I/DD). The original Reality vision was for all staff, volunteers, and participants to grow together in the truth that the deepest reality of life is God’s love for every person in Jesus Christ.
In May 2008, Reality purchased an old church building on the edge of downtown Durham, across from a public high school. The first Reality Center event was the “Real Friends” Day Camp in August 2008. It didn’t take long to realize that Reality’s ministry with Durham’s marginalized populations was changing to include not only teenagers with disabilities but also disadvantaged youth from the inner-city who were flooding into the center every day. “After-school” programming included various recreational opportunities and a tutoring program, along with optional Christian leadership gatherings— Real Leaders and Beauty of the Spirit (precursors to Real Men and Real Women).
Relationships between staff and volunteers and friends of all types deepened through shared experiences at the Reality Center and the beginning of off-site programming with the Reality Road Trip. Camp trips with our I/DD friends began in 2009 (River’s Way), and the first Experience Reality Camp for the after-school students followed in 2010.
2010 was a year of expansion for Reality Ministries. Now welcoming adults in addition to teens, I/DD programming doubled in size. Additional weekly options for Real Friends like Pass the Peas and small group Bible studies helped to distribute the increasing numbers.
In the fall of 2010, New Horizons Academy became a part of Reality Ministries. New Horizons was an independent, tuition-free school serving students who struggled to find success in public high school. In June of 2013 New Horizons transitioned into a separate nonprofit organization. Rebound, our program for DPS students on short-term suspensions, also found independent footing in 2013 (http://reboundnc.org/).
In July 2013, Reality Ministries refocused on its rapidly growing Real Friends ministry. Programming increased to four days a week and expanded to additional off-site venues and “Home Groups.” The Reality Talent Show, which debuted in 2008, has become a community highlight and was attended by over 2,000 people at the Durham Performing Arts Center in 2017.
With over 150 weekly volunteers, Reality Ministries is a place where all types of people can find mutual encouragement in Christ. The mission: Creating opportunities for teens and adults with and without developmental disabilities to experience belonging, kinship and the life-changing Reality of Christ’s love.