By Katy Phillips
"Katy!! I can't believe it. You're here. Yay!! Katy's here, everybody!" De Carlos enthusiastically shouts with his arms open wide.
"Oh my gosh, it's Katy," says Jeffrey. "What are you going to cook today?" he says with a huge smile.
Both DeCarlos and Jeffrey are participants at the Reality Center's daytime program and their accolades have truly sent my self esteem to the stars! I’ve had the privilege of cooking some meals at the Reality Center's weekly Thursday lunches and I am now convinced that Epicurious might start tracking me down as one of the world's most influential chefs! At least that is how I feel at the end of a day-time meal. The first time I cooked a lunch time meal with fresh veggies donated from the Durham Farmers Market, I had several participants say it was the best food they had ever tasted. I definitely attribute that to the farmers' delicious ingredients, but I’m always thankful for the compliments!
Needless to say, if you are ever feeling discouraged, or need a little pick-me up the Reality Center is the place to be at lunch time, or any other time for that matter.
Reality Ministries serves individuals with developmental disabilities ages 14 and older offering both daytime and evening programs for anyone to attend. They work to create an environment and opportunities for the participants, whom they call "real friends," to experience true belonging and a keen sense of community.
For the last year, the Reality Center has been the recipient of Durham's Wednesday Donation Station Program. It is a great partnership since the Reality Center’s daytime lunch program takes place on Thursdays and Fridays, the day after donations are received. That means that all of the produce is still deliciously fresh and ready to be enjoyed!
The Reality Center also sees the Donation Station program as a great opportunity for their participants to volunteer and to get to know the community. Veronica and DJ, pictured below, helped at the Durham Donation Station this past year and will continue to do so during the spring and summer of this year. It is a wonderful opportunity for DJ to meet the farmers, engage with the community, and learn life skills. He also LOVES to purchase food from the farmers and hand out "I SHARE" stickers to the lucky donors.
So come on out to the Donation Station on Wednesdays in in Durham and meet some of the "real friends" from the Reality Center, and support your local farmers at the same time! Just maybe you’ll be lucky enough to get an “I SHARE” from DJ!