Dustin Pearce and Emily Spencer, hosts of “The Real Change Wilmington Podcast,” recently sat down with Lee Sandlin, director of Sugartree Ministries and Our Father’s Kitchen, to get an inside look into inside his ministry and answer some concerns circulating in the community, like: “Are people being shipped in?,” “Is Sugartree Ministries moving locations?,” and more.
“I think Sugartree Ministries suffers the same problem many other institutions in Wilmington do: they don’t communicate enough. And so, people make up stories based on what they see driving by or read on social media—neither of which is very good,” Pearce said. “I’m certainly guilty of this myself. I mean, it’s impossible to live in Wilmington and not have an opinion about homelessness and Sugartree Ministries—it’s in the middle of town, we drive by it weekly, people talk about it constantly—it’s just part of the air we breathe!”
Pearce continued, “But what really goes on there? I tried volunteering to find out, but it only left me more confused, and worse, cynical—I started to agree with the idea that Our Father’s Kitchen contributes to the homelessness problem in Wilmington. It wasn’t until I was stuck in a 30-minute car ride to Washington Court House for lunch with a pastor friend of mine that I was challenged to see another perspective on Lee and homelessness in Wilmington.
“So, wanting to get to the bottom of things, and resolve some tension in the community, I got Lee’s number and asked him if he would be willing to record a conversation and answer some questions. I prefaced by joking, ‘Lee, I want to know if you are as bad as people say you are, or if there’s more to the story, and if there is, how could the community help you make real change?’
“Our conversation went nearly two hours, and covered everything I could think of, like: Who is Lee Sandlin? What is the story of Sugartree Ministries? What services do they provide in-house? Do they partner with local professional services and law enforcement? What are the demographics of people they serve (addiction, mental illness, etc)? Why don’t they enforce a ‘needs-based’ approach to giving? Do they enable drug use at their facility? What happened to concerts and Joe’s Java? What are some areas they see that need improvement? And more.
“My hope is that this recording helps inform your opinion of Lee and Sugartree Ministries, and even if you still disagree with them, at least you disagree with firsthand information, not rumors.”
Listen to Our Father’s Kitchen’s response to community concerns on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify (search ‘Real Change Wilmington’), or at www.realchangewilmington.com.