From its inception in December 2007, Reality Ministries (501c3) has focused on building community with the overlooked and underserved populations in Durham, beginning with those with developmental disabilities. 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. 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 Christian leadership opportunities.
The fall of 2010 was a time of expansion for Reality Ministries. New Horizons Academy, an independent, tuition-free school serving students who struggled to succeed in public high school, became part of Reality. That year also saw the inception of Rebound, a program for Durham Public School students on short-term suspension. At the same time. the special needs ministry was expanding. Now welcoming adults in addition to teens, our programming doubled in size. Additional weekly options for friends of all abilities like Pass the Peas and small home group gatherings helped to keep relationships at the center as our numbers grew.
In 2013 the Reality team entered a season of discernment and made the decision to focus on its rapidly growing ministry with adults of all abilities. New Horizons Academy and Rebound transitioned into separate nonprofit organizations.
Today, over 250 adults with developmental disabilities and 200+ volunteers share life together in a variety of ways, including:
- Morning Mingles – 5 times each week in Durham and Chapel Hill
- Evening gatherings – three evenings a week, with pizza, small group gatherings, and fellowship
- The Reality Cafe – serving 600+ meals to the wider community each year.
- Four Residences – the Corner House, the Isaac House (new in 2023!) and two Friendship Houses.
- Summer Retreats – taking 200 Reality friends to the mountains, Hyco Lake or the beach
- and countless friendships growing in all sorts of ways
Each year, two to three Community Life Assistants spend 12 months working full-time at Reality and facilitating connection and belonging in our programs.