By Patty Sorrells, Executive Director
Most of the Kernersville community is familiar with Next Step Ministries, but for those who are not, let us introduce to you, our agency. NSM is a non-profit organization who serves survivors of domestic violence by operating a domestic violence shelter for victims who are in imminent danger, providing advocacy and resources to help survivors navigate the judicial system and plan their next steps to a new chapter in life. We offer support groups and educational workshops to survivors and the broader community. We also operate a thrift store located at 955 Hwy 66 South in Kernersville that supports our agency and provides needed items for our clients. We were established in 1998 when a local schoolteacher, Martha Pearson, was murdered by her husband. Since then, we have grown in our services and the number of people we help.
In 2021, NSM answered 1,891 crisis calls, provided shelter for 180 individuals, offered 52 support groups and educational workshops, and volunteers worked 5,489 hours at our Thrift Store and shelter. We have continued to provide all of our services to survivors during this two-year pandemic, thanks to our funders, donors, staff, and board.
When taking part in the Next Step Ministries Safe House Program, survivors are provided basic needs such as shelter, food, clothing from the thrift store, and hygiene products. After getting acclimated to their surroundings, guests then meet regularly with an on-site case manager who helps assess their situation and collaboratively develops short and long-term goals. This qualified case manager works to connect each guest with appropriate community resources for things such as housing, childcare, medical clinics, utility assistance, court advocacy, and much more. The Safe House also has staff members who are certified in completing applications for programs like Rapid Rehousing and the NC Address Confidentiality Program. Next Step Ministries takes a broad approach in meeting the unique needs of each program participant. Every program staff member works hard to bridge services for survivors to ensure the long-term success of their journey in escaping the pain of domestic violence.
For the 2021 Christmas holiday season, Next Step Ministries set up their annual angel tree within their thrift store. This allowed generous members of the community to choose requested gift items for clients who receive services from the agency. It is not uncommon for domestic violence survivors to experience loneliness, fear, and uncertainty when transitioning from a violent home. This is especially true for children who find themselves displaced on Christmas morning. Gifts such as scarves, winter boots, books, toys, and gift cards were so kindly donated by the Kernersville community. KPD donated 30 plus stuffed animals and even motorized scooters for the kids! These gifts brought joy and warmth to survivors who may not have had Christmas at all. Next Step Ministries is very appreciative of the immeasurable support the Kernersville community has shown.
What does 2022 hold for NSM? As we continue to provide professional and compassionate care for survivors of domestic violence, we are excited to be adding services for victims of sexual assault in 2022. Providing services to victims of sexual assault is typical of most victim service agencies. Sexual assault is another tactic that abusers use to control their partners, and the two services will give NSM the opportunity to meet the full needs of our clients and community. We expanded our services in 2020 when we added a new position that works closely with Kernersville Police Department and the court system and provides services to our non-shelter clients. This position will continue that work with victims of sexual assault as well. Our Crisis Line advocates will receive extensive training in sexual assault and be our frontline responders for victims, just as they do with victims of domestic violence.
Our Thrift Store is one of our largest revenue streams. Our community has been so generous to continue to support our Thrift Store for the last 16 years, and especially during the current pandemic. Due to the pandemic, our fundraising efforts have been greatly impacted. But because of our community, the Thrift Store has remained open and continues to serve our community with used and gently used donations. Our clients are able to shop for clothes and housewares to help them with attending job interviews, starting in a new home, and making sure that the children’s needs are met as well as enjoy toys and books that brings them joy at a difficult time. Thank you, Kernersville, for donating and shopping at NSM Thrift Store! As a shopper, you can know that your purchases help to keep our doors open and give the ability to provide continued services.
Next Step Ministries has several new events coming up this year. Our Thrift Store will continue this year with our big Spring Clean Clearance Sale in March. Our Thrift Store will have special events throughout the year. We also have several new fundraising events that involve sports and events for the whole family. If you would like to stay updated on what is happening with NSM and become a volunteer or donor, please email us at email@example.com, visit our website www.nextstepdv.org, follow us on Facebook, or the Thrift Store on Instagram. We would love to add you to our contacts for our newsletter and contacts to keep you informed about our 2022 events and how you can get more involved. Thank you, Kernersville, for many years of generous and genuine support!