Sheryl Dorsey, founder and director of King’s Daughters’ Ministry in Stanley, knew the heartache of homelessness and abuse before God called her to open up a home for hurting women.
Having grown up in a broken household, she was later placed by the court system into foster care.
“I was always abandoned, always hated by parental figures in my life,” she said.
She frequently traveled from one foster family to the next like a sojourner without purpose, soon finding herself on the streets, homeless and pregnant.
It wasn’t long before Dorsey made contact with her birth father, thousands of miles across the country, and went to live with him.
While the experience proved most disappointing for her at the time, since her natural desire to connect with him proved unsuccessful, the new life season spiritually transformed her.
Growing up in Washington, she had never gone to church or heard about God, Dorsey said, but the Virginia culture where her dad lived heavily focused on Sunday attendance.
During her time with him, Dorsey found herself in church for the first time in her life.
She said it took only one sermon for something spiritual to resonate inside of her.
While hearing the preacher discuss the joy of Christ’s resurrection and life after death, she instantly reflected on the memory of her deceased brother who, at age 6, was murdered by their mother.
Even at age 8, with little to no understanding of God and religion, Dorsey believed he had gone to a better place.
For her, the sermon eight years later, at age 16, served to confirm her theory and bring her hope.
“I had hope for the first time in my life,” she said.
Over the years, Dorsey felt led by God to open a facility for struggling women, whether they battled with self-harm, substance and alcohol abuse or battered relationships.
She not only wanted to encourage others dealing with deep-seated issues but also provide them helpful instruction for daily living — permanent instruction for a lifetime rather than a season.
“The goal is independence,” she said of the ministry’s curriculum.
The program focuses on using the Bible, Christian teaching, professional counseling and other practical methods of discipline and learning to achieve complete healing — healing from the inside out, Dorsey said.
She noted that proper healing breaks any injurious cycles, allowing women to not only cultivate better habits and outlooks for themselves but also their children, if they have any.
From Bible study and cooking lessons to financial budgeting and managing a household and job, the ministry’s program, celebrating its third anniversary this month, offers participants a strict curriculum with proven success, including cutting off residents’ from outside contacts the first 30 days of the program.
Dorsey said that all of the residents share a home in Stanley and frequently take turns tackling all the household chores at once, including grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning.
While the residence can hold up to four occupants — typically two adults and two children — three people currently live there, including a woman in her early 20s who sat down with the Times-News earlier this week to discuss how King’s Daughter’s Ministry has changed her life.
While the woman wished to remain anonymous, her thoughts flowed freely during the interview, eyes wide with amazement over the internal and external transformation she’s encountered in six short months.
Having lost her house and car, and even her now 1-year-old son for a time, she voluntarily showed up at the ministry’s front door in June — all her belongings were contained in a simple suitcase, she said.
After having applied to various other transition homes in the area, only to find out she had been rejected from each one, King’s Daughters’ Ministry served as her last option.
Because of the strict nature of the facility, she was not thrilled about the choice at all.
“This was the last place I wanted to go,” she said.
Six months earlier, in January 2013, the resident started using controlled substances, and after just one month, discovered she was an addict.
“I lost everything I had,” she said.
Dorsey more than agreed.
“Addiction’s going to take you down so far, so fast,” the nonprofit director said.
However, in a short amount of time, the once hurting, confused drug user became unrecognizable to those around her.
Not only did she change her outer appearance, cutting and cleaning her hair for the first time in months, but also her inner self, tackling independence and parenting the right way, relying on God and Christian principles to guide her each day.
“My dad said, ‘I don’t care if you come back a Jesus freak, just come back my little girl,’” she said.
While residents typically stay enrolled with the ministry’s program for six to 18 months, any person can stay longer, if necessary, as long as one abides by the rules and maintains employment, Dorsey noted.
The women frequently complete classes through Lincoln Ready to Work.
For those who may have similar struggles or find themselves on the fence about seeking local help, the Stanley ministry’s resident offered a simple plea.
“There’s no way to get clean unless you have God,” she said. “I just want to stand on the top of one of those huge buildings and shout it out: ‘Go to God.’”
On June 13, the day she celebrated her Christian salvation, she said, she reflected on the fact that during the same month years earlier, her church had given her a Bible she tossed aside.
And although in a matter of a few short years, the young, single mother spiraled out of control, God kept her close and brought her back to faith again through the support system at King’s Daughters’ Ministry, she said.
The organization also maintains a discount store, Penny Thrift, for anyone in the community.
The shop, which opened a year after nonprofit officials established the organization, is located at 532 N.C. 27 South in Stanley.
Dorsey hoped that in the near future, the ministry would be able to open a second store location in Lincolnton.
For the last six months, she has been searching for a facility, one that can house both a store and the ministry’s overwhelming supply of donated items.
The organization currently maintains a separate warehouse, contained in the same building as its office and roughly a mile from Penny Thrift, Dorsey said.
The shop contains a variety of necessities for women, men and children including clothing, shoes, furniture, books, toys, jewelry and more.
On Saturday, the store will celebrate its February anniversary with a Penny Bag Sale.
A number of items will be discounted to $0.01 apiece.
For more information on King’s Daughters’ Ministry, call (704) 263-4204, visit KDMonline.org or email email@example.com.
To contact Penny Thrift, call (704) 263-8855 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
All proceeds from the shop go to support the ministry.