From its inception, Reality has focused on the overlooked and underserved populations in Durham, beginning with the cognitively impaired.
In 2007, Reality Ministries Inc. launched with a vision for those people to know that the deepest reality of life is God’s love in Jesus Christ.
In May 2008, Reality purchased an old church building on the edge of downtown Durham, across from a public high school. That building became The Reality Center. The first Tuesday night day camp took place at The Reality Center in August 2008.
A few weeks later, Reality received its first after-school students. After-school programming originally took the form of recreation in the game room and on the basketball court. A fledgling tutoring program began, along with some optional Christian leadership gatherings — Real Leaders and Beauty of the Spirit (precursors to Real Men and Real Women).
It didn’t take long to realize that Reality’s ministry with Durham’s overlooked was changing to include not only those with disabilities but also disadvantaged youth from the inner-city who were flooding into the center every day.
Relationships between staff and volunteers and friends of all types unavoidably deepened through shared experiences at the Reality Center. This was enhanced by off-site programming in the summer, beginning with the Reality Road Trip of 2008. The next summer saw the launch of camp trips for special needs friends (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, as it decided to waive the age limit for special needs participants, called Real Friends. The program doubled in size as group homes began to bring more and more older participants. Additional weekly options for Real Friends like Pass the Peas and small group Bible studies helped to distribute the increasing numbers.
From the fall of 2010 to July 2013, New Horizons Academy was a part of Reality Ministries. New Horizons is an independent, tuition-free school that serves students who have not succeeded in public high school. In 2013 they again transitioned into a separate nonprofit organization in order to expand into a K-12 school serving more students.
In July 2013, Reality Ministries again refocused on rapidly growing its Real Friends ministry. The goal is to be able to serve more people with disabilities and offer more daytime programs for participants.