JUST ADD HOPE: First Fruit Ministries

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — We often hear from viewers who want to see more coverage of positive things going on in our community. In an effort to do this, we are showcasing the people and groups doing good around our area and how you can get involved through a series of stories called “Just Add Hope.”

First Fruit Ministries in Wilmington helps feed the hungry and give the homeless shelter. But the charity is also giving the people it helps life skills to get them on their feet.

“I’m clean and sober for almost 14 months,” First Fruit Ministries resident Donna See said. “I’ve got encouragement. I’ve got people who are there for me, who point me in the right directions. I just feel like a whole different person since I’ve been here.”

See says she has First Fruit Ministries to thank for helping her become the woman she has always wanted to be.

“Those are the days we live for: seeing people transition out of a horrible situation into a place in life like all of us have the opportunity to do,” First Fruit Ministries Rick Stoker said.

Stoker founded First Fruit Ministries 13 years ago to give the less fortunate hope for a better life. First Fruit offers safe and nurturing shelter to women and children, medical and dental care, transitional housing to men who need help getting back on their feet and food for the hungry. First Fruit feeds more than 30,000 people each year.

Staff member Ronald Pinney said making an impact is all about a true attitude of service and respect.

“There’s no specific fix I can give them, but there’s a relationship being built,” Pinney said. “So they can come and lean on me after this period of time. You know, at first, I’m scared. They’re scared. But as time goes, we’re building this relationship, and that’s what this is about.”

Kalvin Welch is a product of the ministry. He fell on hard times and started over in the men’s program at First Fruit. He is now a staff member paying it forward. He encourages anyone with a passion for people to volunteer.

“When I put other people first, everything in my life seems to work out too,” Welch said.

Like Welch, Isaac Buchanan is starting fresh thanks to First Fruit. He is now an intern who says volunteering your time will change your perspective.

“Once you see what really goes on and what people are going through, that there really is hungry people out there, there is homeless people, there’s people that are out of jobs, out of work, that have kids, it’ll impact you, and to see the smile on somebody’s face or a grateful heart, it makes a difference,” Buchanan said.

It’s a difference See is experiencing firsthand.

“I was in a domestic violence situation, and I had to leave New York with my two kids, and we’ve went through a hard time, and I’m doing what I need to do for myself and my children and just leaving the past behind and becoming a better person,” See said.

Stoker said it takes a lot of work to foster success stories like See’s. He said anyone with any amount of time at all can volunteer. First Fruit needs help with everything from administrative work to handing out food to simply taking time to form friendships.

For more information on First Fruit Ministries and how you can get involved by volunteering your time and talents, visit http://www.firstfruitministries.org/.

Categories: New Hanover