Reality Ministries Happiness

My garden club had a fabulous field trip to Reality Ministries today to visit their North St. Neighborhood and specific to see Tony’s garden at the corner house.

I first got to know Reality years ago when Beth Sholtz told me about it and suggested I do a story on it for Durham Magazine. I met Susan McSwain, the founder and was so impressed with their mission to create a community of friends where people living with disabilities are side by side with friends whose disabilities not as apparent. The day program provides a loving place for 400 people who might otherwise be lonely to have a place to come and be with friends.

One of the wonderful things that came out of Reality was an intentional neighborhood of 20 homes where over 100 people live together, people with all kinds of abilities living together. These are not normal group homes, but families made up of chosen friends.

Many of the houses have glorious gardens and we went to have a tour of one of these gardens where Tony lives and tends his fruits, vegetables and flowers. Tony grew up in Greensboro and moved to Durham when his mother passed away. My guess is he is in his seventies and without Reality I am not sure where he would live. Bonnie who also lives in the home with Tony was there and shared her gift of making tea with us all. They were a most friendly pair who were clearly loved by many.

It was an incredible visit and I was so happy that members of the garden club got to learn about the miracle of Reality Ministries and meet the sweet friends who spend their day there.

Tony is a master gardener and he showed how people of all abilities can have extraordinarily talents. His gift is gardening, and maybe also impersonating Elvis, but that is a story for another day.

Thanks to Quinn Holmquist, the community out reach director for sharing Reality with us and making us feel so welcome. If you live in or around Durham and want to visit a happy place call Quinn to schedule a visit. It will change your perspective on how wonderful it is to live in a world where everyone is valued.

One Comment on “Reality Ministries Happiness”

  1. Nancye Bryan says:

    Love this, Dana. It’s a marvelous organization. Our son Needham is a very active member. A true plus for our community.

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