WayMaker Luncheon Hosts Mayor Bill Saffo

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June 2, 2022


(Mayor Saffo receives the WayMaker Award from First Fruit Ministries, Lee Anna Stoker, Executive Director, and Co-founder)

 Wilmington, NC (May 18, 2022):  First Fruit Ministries recognizes Mayor Saffo with their first ever WayMaker award for his leadership and commitment in fighting human trafficking.  Earlier this year Mayor Saffo signed the Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention proclamation, which includes his designation of each January as Human Trafficking awareness and prevention month in Wilmington.  On the same day the mayor signed this proclamation and the media picked up the story, a runaway victim of human trafficking saw the news and contacted First Fruit Ministries.  She was rescued hours later and is safe now with First Fruit Ministries. 

In addition to these efforts, Mayor Saffo has championed C.A.S.T., Collaborative Against Sex Trafficking, a First Fruit Ministries’ initiative building a regional collaboration in order to form a multi-disciplinary team of social services, law enforcement, healthcare, and trafficking and homeless service providers to better serve and swiftly respond to trafficking crises in Wilmington.

As Mayor Saffo received First Fruit Ministries’ “WayMaker” Award, he thanked First Fruit Ministries for its strong help in meeting the needs of the homeless, those begging on street corners, and victims of human trafficking. Mayor Saffo reports that he is often asked about these issues and while there are some things that local government can do, the community relies heavily on organizations like First Fruit Ministries to provide individuals with safe housing and services that will assist them in overcoming a variety of challenges and achieving long-term results. 

First Fruit Ministries recognizes WayMakers who are committed to ending human trafficking and homelessness in Wilmington, NC. By using our voice and influence, we can make a way for the most vulnerable members of our community to experience freedom.  The cornerstone of First Fruit Ministries' successful growth over the last twenty-four years has been finding a way when there is seemingly no possible path forward, relentlessly looking for innovative solutions to human trafficking and homelessness. First Fruit Ministries recognizes community leaders who exemplify the WayMakers persona and celebrate and encourage others to become Wilmington WayMakers

Guests at the WayMaker Luncheon heard personal stories which demonstrated the inescapable needs and challenges for those we see on local streets and those who remain trapped in situations that we cannot see. Attendees were invited to consider in what capacity they could participate in creating solutions and bridging gaps, so that those in our community experiencing homelessness and trafficking can break the cycle of poverty and discover hope for the future. The sad reality is that emergency and crisis shelter situations are largely unavailable statewide for victims who are struggling with active addiction, mental illness, or illegal immigrant status.


“Communitywide collaboration is one of the most critical tools we can bring to fight human trafficking and homelessness,” says Lee Anna Stoker, Executive Director of First Fruit Ministries.   With the help of leaders and everyday citizens in Wilmington, First Fruit Ministries is determined to continue to find ways to help victims of human trafficking and those individuals that other organizations will not or cannot help.  Creative opportunities are available for everyone to become a Wilmington WayMaker for our most vulnerable populations. At the end of the day, they are all someone’s daughter, someone's son. To learn more about become a WayMaker for First Fruit Ministries, go to firstfruitministries.org 


First Fruit Ministries is a non-profit focused on Outreach and Supportive Housing for the homeless population, with a specific focus on victims of commercial sex or labor trafficking. Team members from First Fruit met with Mayor Bill Saffo on Tuesday, January 18th and presented a proclamation to name January as Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month.

Food, Shelter, Friendship:  First Fruit Ministries shares God’s unconditional love through outreach and supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness or trafficking. Founded by Rick and Lee Anna Stoker over 20 years ago, First Fruit Ministries began as a street outreach to people living under bridges and in the woods of our community, women and girls caught in the commercial sex industry and human trafficking, and to our local gangs.  First Fruit Ministries’ work is for people with a passion to see those who are poor, who feel broken and have nowhere to go, the unseen on our streets who are lost in cycles of physical disability, mental health crisis, substance abuse captivity, and emotional trauma, set free. The purpose of First Fruit Ministries is no less than to reach out to this hurting community with unconditional love, with hot meals, with medical care on the streets, and with emotional care that is consistent and trustworthy; and to give a warm home and a stable platform for personal growth to those ready to break free.

First Fruit Ministries

2750 Vance Street

Wilmington, NC



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