A Brooklyn preacher is rolling up his sleeves with his organization ‘The Real Word Ministries’ that’s working to root out poverty and crime in local communities.
Born in Haiti, Rickard Jean-Noel moved to the United States with his family at the age of two. His family lived in Bushwick, but Jean-Noel spent most of his youth in Canarsie. He received his undergraduate degree from the New York City College of Technology before pursuing his post-graduate studies at Fordham University and becoming a case manager.
“Through my profession and studies, I was able to get a better understanding of the level of poverty in New York City, and also which areas were highly impacted by it,” Jean-Noel said.
A former youth pastor himself, Jean-Noel says he was inspired by Pastor Sanders, a preacher at his childhood church, to help those in need.
“He grew up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and saw so many of his friends die due to crime and gun violence,” he told Brooklyn Paper.
Sanders began an organization called ‘Funerals Don’t Count, Spread Love Now,’ which began to help those in Crown Heights, before spreading out into other parts of the city.
Determined to take his message to a larger audience, Jean-Noel started streaming sermons on Facebook live, which he dubbed “Real Word TV.”
Real Word TV garnered views from all over the world — with one sermon reaching over 50,000 people. As a result, the program was picked up by Downtown Brooklyn arts organization BRIC.
The at-home sermons have also expanded to streaming platforms such as SoundCloud, Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Podcast, where Jean-Noel has been able to highlight the needs many struggling Brooklyn neighborhoods have.
Building upon the success of Real Word TV, Jean-Noel established a 501(c)3 charity in December 2018 called The Real Word Ministries. The group has since partnered with other local churches, schools and shelters to help low-income residents of the borough by raising money to purchase essentials like food and MetroCards.
In one year alone, The Real Word Ministries distributed 500 coats, 240 toys, 180 articles of clothing, and 300 boxes of diapers, baby wipes, and infant formula to local residents in need.
According to the United States Census Bureau, 511,631 Brooklynites lived under the poverty line in 2019, which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic.
The Real Word Ministries continue to fulfill its mission in Brooklyn Neighborhoods, including a recent event hosting a backpack drive in Brownsville.
“We were able to provide a total of 96 backpacks to the children in Brownsville. The funds were raised using social media, our TV show, and the help of friends and family. It was a great turn out and we were blessed to have such a great event.”
They will also be hosting their annual turkey drive for Thanksgiving.
“We usually partner up with Walmart or BJs to purchase the turkeys. However a majority of the turkeys come from donations,” Jean-Noel shared. “Last year, we received a donation of fruits and vegetables from The Brooklyn Borough President’s office and The One Brooklyn Fund. The goal for this year is to donate a total of 300 turkeys.”
As for the future, Jean-Noel has some big plans for the growth of The Real Word Ministries.
Aside from backpack and turkey drives, Jean-Noel says that “our ultimate goal is to own a multi-use building through the LLC and service clients in the building through our 501c3,” he said. “We would provide housing to people with substance abuse and mental illness. We would provide them with casework services and connect them to care.”
“We would also have our film studio there and it would be open to the public so that the people in the community, in particular the youth, can work on their skills and create their content that will touch the world,” he said.