Tonight was the Reality Ministries dinner where my friend Lynn invited me to join her. I have been to this dinner before and once again I walked away inspired. Reality Ministries is a community of friends with and without developmental disabilities who come together to experience belonging.

I first got to know Reality years ago when I did a story on Susan McSwain, the founder, for Durham Magazine. Her grace and clarity about the need for all people to belong, be loved and accepted was like a light in the darkness. That grace has not wavered in the eleven years the center has been open.

My friend Lynn started volunteering a few years ago and I feel has found her calling in spending her time in friendship with the participants. Tonight I got to meet one of Lynn’s special friend’s Bonnie. It just happens that Bonnie’s last name is Lynn’s daughter’s name. I don’t think there are any coincidences.

I got to sit next to one of my favorite people from church, Nancye, whose son also visits Reality and served us our dinner tonight. In the last couple of years Reality has started a farm a few miles away from the downtown center. We ate some of the vegetables they grew on the farm for dinner tonight and as someone who has practically given up of growing produce due to the heart ache, I was very impressed.

Susan McSwain talked about the problem of isolation for people with developmental disabilities, but as she was describing their loneliness I felt like she could be talking about any young people today. The lack of social interaction, connection to others and friendships is something that many people face. My wish is that all people able bodied, or not, mentally capable or not can find people to connect with and have a sense of belonging. It is not easy, but look for community and join in. It is what humans need.

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