Nonprofit spreads seeds of help, hope for those in need

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For residents in western Wilson who are in need, getting a ride to organizations in east Wilson can exacerbate already stressful times.

Spreading Seeds seeks to alleviate the burden with distributions of food, clothing and more from a location near the Wilson Industrial Air Center.

“It is so hard to tell people about a job interview, but they don’t have anything to wear. ‘We can get you treatment,’ but they have no transportation. Wilson Community College has a GED program, but we have that here because many don’t have transportation to get there,” said Jessica Newton, co-founder of Spreading Seeds. “Everything comes together with a holistic approach.”

The organization is the nonprofit arm of several businesses she runs with her partner, Lacemond Banks, that center around counseling, rehabilitation and transportation.

“What we try to do is provide a variety of resources in a one-stop shop,” Banks said. “We try to make sure we have food, we have clothing, we have household items, so people don’t have to go all over the city to get what they need. They can find it all in one place.”

Since May 2015, Spreading Seeds has distributed more than 232,000 meals through the North Carolina Food Bank. And that doesn’t include the food distributed recently where clients like Amanda Whitley stocked up on meat, vegetables, fruit and bread.

Whitley said she’d been battling a variety of drug addictions since she was 12 and sobered up in prison, but relapsed shortly after her release. She’s been sober for nine months and has a baby boy due in January. Being pregnant was the motivation she said she needed to take control of her life and Spreading Seeds has helped.

“I’ve received classes for recovery, I see a therapist and the clothing bank has helped me with stuff for the baby and myself,” she said. “I grew up in Wilson and both of my parents are addicts, but there was nothing like this when I was growing up. I wish this was around longer because it might have saved my dad.”

Newton said many of the organization’s clients battle addictions. Banks said Spreading Seeds takes a non-judgmental approach to clients, working to teach skills to alleviate the need for clients to receive long-term assistance.

“We don’t turn anyone away,” he said. “Even if they’ve been to OIC and Salvation Army, we’re not going to turn them away. They may have squandered the resources they’ve been given, but that doesn’t negate the fact they may have a hungry child in the home.”

For Dwayne Canady, the assistance provided by Spreading Seeds is worth the drive from his home in Kinston. He’s battled a marijuana and cocaine addiction for about 20 years, but has been clean for two months. He said a friend was a Spreading Seeds client and recommended it.

“I am very grateful,” he said. “Recovery is nothing more than an act of change in thinking, behavior and attitude. My whole thinking has changed and I feel myself getting better and better.”

Whitley and Canady are among the estimated 200 people who receive help from the group’s clothing closet and receive household items each month. Newton said she’s hopeful the recent open house will boost donations, especially of men’s clothing and winter shoes for adults.

For more information, call 252-520-0081 or visit www.SpreadSeedsWithUs.com/.