Patty describes the person she was when she came into First Fruit Ministries as totally closed off, angry at the world, a “thug” who’d been dealing drugs, running from herself, keeping the hood up and never smiling. “I was the scariest person who ever walked through the doors,” she said, “not trusting anyone or anything.” She hadn’t had a home in years. Living in a temporary shelter she knew she needed to make a change. In fact, she reports thinking at her first (of three!) interviews, that First Fruit Ministries was some kind of cult; she was so used to there being ‘strings attached’ or a ‘catch’ when someone offered help.
She’s a far different person these days: a woman of grace. One who is peaceful, patient and considerate, joyful, and wise. When you ask her how she got from one extreme to the other she talks about the love she receives here. Love first from Lee Anna and Rick that taught her about God’s love for her. Eventually love for herself. Lastly, the love that she now freely gives away to others. “Love given without any expectation of something in return,” Patty talks about what forms the basis of what she describes as a solid, firm foundation beneath those changes.
Patty has accomplished a great deal while at First Fruit Ministries. In Wilmington Dream Center she is in a position of responsibility and mentors new residents. She went back to school at Cape Fear Community College, simultaneously studying for and being awarded her GED and a Certified Nursing Assistant certificate. She talks about the constant reassurance and encouragement she has received from staff throughout as being responsible for her academic success. “Every time I’d hit a stumbling block, wanted to quit, just wanted to put that hood back on and walk out, they wouldn’t let me. They told me I was worth fighting for and that they loved me.”
Patty looks forward these days to passing her CNA state boards and going to work helping others and speaks of doing volunteer work with women who are caught up in the same cycle she has broken free of, sharing the lessons she has learned at First Fruit Ministries, and most importantly, passing the love on.