The King family was on a mission trip in the Dominican Republic in September 2009 when they received devastating news: Their 16-year-old son, David, had been killed in car accident. Back home in the United States, Nicolette King grieved for her son and also for the underprivileged people she had met during her trip. Eight years later, King, 52, runs Seeds of Mustard, a ministry that was born from grief – and hope.
Q: How did Seeds of Mustard get started?
A: In the Dominican Republic we were meeting kids who were going to die because they couldn’t get to a hospital, even though it was 50 miles away, because they had no transportation and no money. We were there with a local lady trying to make a difference. When we got back to the hotel, we got a phone call that David had died. Back in the States, people started asking if we were going to set up a fund for him, and it just clicked. We’d set up a fund and send money to these kids.
Q: Why did you decide to open Thrift 2 Gift, a thrift store that serves as the retail arm of Seeds of Mustard, in 2010?
Never miss a local story.
A: Funding for the Dominican Republic kids initially came from David’s funeral. Getting people to continue giving probably would not have been successful. (My husband) George realized we needed a nonprofit that could sustain itself. One day George was praying about what was next for the ministry and felt that we needed to create a business that had a revenue stream. Our good friend ... suggested a thrift store.
Q: What were the initial challenges?
A: Space was definitely a challenge; we only had 2,000 square feet at first. Awareness was a challenge – getting our name out. Getting support. In the beginning, it was just a handful of people, just our good friends.
Q: Eight years later, what’s been the biggest surprise?
A: The volunteers, probably 75 percent, come from community service through the court system. A lot of times they’re really struggling. We assign a staff person to each (volunteer) to get to know them and, ultimately, we want to bring them to Christ because we’re a Christian ministry. But we also want to meet them where they are.
We had one guy who right when (President Donald) Trump shut down the borders and wouldn’t let people in ... his father ended up getting in a traffic stop and got arrested. We’ve been able to help this young man, not just mentally, but his family, help find him an attorney. We’ve had kids hooked on drugs, and we’ve had chances to sit down with them and their parents. Girls that have been cutting and talking about suicide. The ministry that happens within the store is something we had no idea would happen.
Q: What are some of the coolest items people donate?
A: Really old Coke bottles that will sell for $30 a bottle. Tons of designer items – Michael Kors, Coach and Louis Vuitton, all kinds of designer jeans. There’s a rage for older speakers and receivers. Guys love them. They sell in a day.
Q: What are some of the local and international projects you help fund?
A: There’s need everywhere. The Bible is pretty direct to help your neighbors and then to the ends of the Earth. One of the cool things we recently did is that we helped buy a bus for a school in India.
We have two big “gives” a year. We recently donated to Ship of Zion in downtown Raleigh to help support their efforts with the homeless population. Other groups are Veterans Helping Veterans, Church in the Woods and a variety of causes in the Philippines, Dominican Republic and India. Each year, we have been able to increase our giving as our revenues have increased.
Know someone who would make a good Tar Heel of the Week? Make a nomination at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Born: Aug. 17, 1965, in Germany
Organization: Seeds of Mustard Ministry, Thrift 2 Gift, 900 E. Chatham St., Cary (seedsofmustard.org)
Family: Husband, two teenage daughters, son who died in 2009
Hobbies: Loves painting cabinets and furniture