University Advancement & Alumni Relations

Ministering Circle

A Circle of Giving

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Miracle Circle

It is said that the past shapes the future. This can be seen to no greater degree than in the Ministering Circle, a small local organization that was founded in 1888 and has been dedicated to supporting the healthcare needs of the Wilmington community ever since. This includes providing an astounding $340,000 (and counting) in scholarship funds to the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) and Cape Fear Community College (CFCC) nursing students over the years.

On February 18, representatives of UNCW and CFCC had the opportunity to personally thank members of the Ministering Circle for their gifts today and those of their previous generations.

For more than 125 years your admirable organization has ministered to the needs of our community. And you’ve done so quietly, without seeking a lot of acknowledgement.



As Dean Hardy addressed the group he noted, “For more than 125 years your admirable organization has ministered to the needs of our community. And you’ve done so quietly, without seeking a lot of acknowledgement.” Indeed, in the current age of selfie sticks and posting on social media for “likes” the humble nature in which the Ministering Circle has gone about their work feels like that of a bygone era, while its impact on the community, both then and now, is worthy of attention.

Perhaps surprising might be that the Ministering Circle encompasses just 50 women; membership and the responsibility to serve is handed down from generation to generation within families. The group’s numerous contributions to the community began with the construction of a home in Wrightsville Beach for sick children.

Subsequent donations to the James Walker Memorial Hospital were used to fund purchases such as a horse-drawn ambulance, and Wilmington’s first x-ray machine. The Circle also maintained a room at the hospital just for financially needy patients, decorated with touches of home, like curtains sewn by hand. Since 1953 they have been providing “Housekeeping Helpers” in homes affected by illness; and in 2014 donated $25,000 to the St. Mary’s Pediatric Dental Clinic. And then of course there are the hundreds of thousands of dollars in nursing scholarships



Thank you so much for your gift this year and making my dream (from age 10) a realistic reality. My hope after I graduate is to work overseas in some country with an undeveloped health care system.

Jennifer Ellis, class of 2017
2015-16 scholarship recipient



During the event, Shannon Wells, president of the Ministering Circle, talked about how meaningful it was to see lives changed.

Both Regina McBarron, department chair of Health Sciences at CFCC, and Dr. Laurie Badzek, director of UNCW’s School of Nursing, reflected on the positive impact scholarships make in the daily and future lives of their students, and how they also help support initiatives like the Wilmington Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses (RIBN) program, an innovative partnership between CFCC and UNCW that further promotes collaboration and strengthening of the area’s health care community.

Dr. Badzek also recognized the contributions of the Ministering circle specific to UNCW that include the tuition and fees generously provided to 57 students since the 2002-2003 academic year. She also expressed gratitude for a newly endowed scholarship: “The newly established endowed scholarship will provide never-ending support for UNCW, enriching the total student experience for our student nurses.”

UNCW/Kimberly Falkenhagen

Kyria Henry

School of Health and Applied Human Sciences Instructor & Paws for People Founder.

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College of Health & Human Services

Transforming the health and well-being of our region.

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Ongoing support for scholarships, professorships, and university programs.

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To speak with someone about partnering with the College of Health & Human Services, contact:



Tanya Armour
Director for Development, University Advancement
(910) 962.2424