Our Story

The board of directors and staff work together to establish and maintain a blueprint for helping our scholars succeed, both in the classroom and in life. Our wonderful, dedicated volunteers give tirelessly of themselves to teach and coach and support the children they tutor. And parents, grandparents, and guardians reinforce these efforts. Together, we are breaking down barriers and building community.
— Shelia McBee Norman, R&S Executive Director

The Rallying Point

Neighbors In Ministry exists to enrich children, empower parents and encourage community through year-round programs. Our programs enable children and adults to work for equality of opportunity and to build the Beloved Community of racial justice and reconciliation. We are motivated by the spirit of Christian faith.
— Our Mission

The roots of Rise & Shine grew out of a dark chapter in local history. In the face of overt racism as represented by the KKK, a group of concerned citizens initiated an ongoing community dialogue on racial reconciliation. Together, activists both black and white worked to promote social justice and, ultimately, to create a vibrant program that has been empowering children, enriching lives, and strengthening communities since 1996.

In 1988, the Ku Klux Klan requested a permit to march in downtown Brevard. Determined not to fan the flame, a social activist named Fay Walker invited people to gather at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church for an interracial dialogue. Fourteen community members participated. From this modest beginning was born an ongoing group of black and white residents who called themselves “Friends” and who met monthly for the next decade.

In 1992 when the KKK marched again in Brevard, it was this Friends group that initiated a petition opposing the Klan and filled a full page of the Transylvania Times with 1200 signatures of local residents who shared their opinion. 

Racial Justice and Reconciliation

In 1993, Pastor Frederick Gordon and leaders from the Methodist Church conducted a multi-week Lenten series entitled “Racism: Everybody’s Problem” at Bethel “A” Baptist Church. During the final session, participants were asked to consider returning to their church/community organizations to work against racism. Many committed to this end.

That same spring, Fay Walker listened as Pastor Gordon asked repeatedly, “Fay, I want you to help me do something for children in the neighborhood around Bethel “A”. In the spring of 1996, the pastor’s request became for her a clarion call:  Can we do something for children and address racial justice and reconciliation at the same time?

To me, the Moral Monday March in Raleigh was a once in a lifetime experience. What I learned is that even though we live in a world where segregation is not allowed, many are treated as if it is. I also learned that [while the struggle] is long and hard, a change will come, and I can say that I was one of the many who helped that change come.
— Madison, R&S Scholar

RISE & SHINE IS BORN

All summer Pastor Gordon, Fay Walker, and a team of parents and residents dreamed, designed, and planned an after school program eventually to be called Rise & Shine. Its signature would be daily one-on-one tutoring. Teams of volunteers were recruited from The American Association of University Women, Bethel “A” Baptist Church, Brevard-Davidson River Presbyterian Church, First United Methodist Church, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and St. Philip’s Episcopal Church; later two community-based teams were added to the rotation. Teachers and parents referred students who otherwise might fall through the cracks without special support.  

And so it was that in October 1996, with $3000 of United Way funding, the Rise & Shine after school program opened its doors and welcomed its first students.

"When I began as a tutor with Rise & Shine, I had no idea that I was embarking on one of the most rewarding chapters of my life."  Don Lander, Volunteer Homework Coach

Our Growth Continues

Under the thoughtful guidance of the program's parent organization, Neighbors In Ministry, its board of directors, the talented R&S staff, dedicated parents, and a large and enthusiastic corps of volunteers, Rise & Shine has grown significantly from its humble beginnings. As the impact of Rise & Shine was felt in those early years, the group's leaders soon recognized the potential for the program to expand its positive influence.  

Today we serve dozens of students each year, from kindergarten through high school. Scholars rotate through three broad areas, including one-on-one homework coaching with a volunteer tutor, a period of guided reading led by volunteer reading specialists, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) enrichment led by Rise & Shine staff.