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KENNETH SOUSA, SPECIAL TO THE DAILY PRESS
SERVING BREAKFAST: Rasiene Reece-Carter, left, and her mother, Joyce Ballou-Johnson, prepare breakfast for the homeless in their downtown Victorville office. Rasiene is the president of the Women of Noble Character organization, helping and providing care for homeless in the High Desert.

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Women of Noble Character serves Victorville's homeless

What started as a group of women having lunch every Thursday has blossomed into a ministry to serve the homeless out of a small office in Victorville.

On Monday and Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings, anywhere from one to 25 of Victorville’s homeless knock on the unmarked door of Women of Noble Character’s office. While there might not be enough seats on a given night, those who come know they will be greeted by name and served a free meal by members of the group.

The women’s group is a ministry of Next Generation Worship Centers International and currently has approximately 12 members, many of whom are child care providers, according to founder and CEO Rasiene Reece-Carter.

In 2010, the organization started with just four members — Reece-Carter, her mother Joyce Ballou-Johnson, Cyndie Robinson and Sonya Buchanan. Weekly lunches led to free monthly “garage sales” and then to the distribution of home-cooked meals to the homeless.

“Every time we’re blessed with an opportunity, we take it,” Reece-Carter explained.

In June 2011, the organization moved into a small office out of the back of the H&R Block building on Seventh Street, which allows them to collect donations and hold Bible studies after having free meals for the homeless.

With a desk, a television and some chairs, the first room is a gathering place for meals. Two back rooms are filled with donations of clothes and other items to give away from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.

Reece-Carter says she has been overwhelmed by the support from individuals across the High Desert who have donated to the organization’s efforts.

Believing that small ministries can make a bigger difference by working together, Reece-Carter has partnered with other organizations to create a “Meal-a-Day Calendar” with the goal of documenting a place where the homeless can get a free meal each day of the month.

“We’ve all become intertwined,” Reece-Carter said. “It’s just a whole network of all these little ministries we’ve been partnering with.”

Reece-Carter has dreams of expanding the services offered by the group to include counseling, resume assistance and more.

“We have to meet people’s basic needs so they’ll have a chance,” Reece-Carter said.

While doing this, however, she hopes to avoid the red tape that plagues many organizations, noting that requiring paperwork or identification sometimes prevents the needy from getting help.

“There may be people hustling, but it’s our responsibility to reach out. We’re supposed to live by love,” said group member Deburahlee Adkins, who believes an individual’s responsibility is to be honest about their needs.

The members said the group puts this love into practice in the longstanding relationships they have created with the homeless they serve, and information about the group has spread not by advertising but through word-of-mouth through Victorville’s homeless community.

“I’ll be honest. It’s as fulfilling in our lives as in theirs,” Reece-Carter said.

For more information on the group, please call (760) 265-0259.

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