Notable Nonprofit Leader of the Month: Nick Trombley!
Updated: Jan 18
Meet Nick Trombley!
Not only can Nick source and roast an incredible cup of coffee, he is the leading force behind 441 Ministries, which helps people flourish in the Beechwood neighborhood of Rochester, NY. We hope you enjoy our conversation with Nick!
How long have you been with your nonprofit and in what capacity?
"441 Ministries was founded by Chris Holdridge in 2012, who later planted New City Fellowship church in 2016. I started volunteering in July 2013, helping with the kids’ summer program (which my wife, Patience, now manages). In 2017, I became the Assistant Director of the New City Café, aiding in its launch, and then in 2018, I became the Café Director."
Tell us about what 441 Ministries does.
"The mission is to bring hope, healing, and holistic development through the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Beechwood Neighborhood of Rochester, NY. We do this through programs like: The Café and Roastery which provides both jobs and mentoring to youth in the neighborhood and a comfortable and safe community gathering space. The Kids Club which engages, educates, and entertains kids on Saturday afternoons during the school year, then during the summer, becomes Kids Camp, giving kids a healthy meal and biblical nourishment. The Teen Club which meets every other Friday afternoon, with periodic field trips, promoting discipleship, deepening relationships, and encouraging leadership and community service. Some teens have participated in our mentoring program which pairs them with a caring adult to work on academics and spiritual growth, and just to have fun. Kids Club and Teen Club provide a pipeline for employment at New City Café. Food Access Initiatives, including Foodlink’s Curbside Market (a van that sells fresh fruits and vegetables) which parks at our café every Thursday. Also, the Beechwood Community Garden at Parsells and Stout has raised beds that provide much-needed fresh produce for this community as well as gardening lessons and nutrition classes. Affordable Housing where we purchase and renovate apartments in this community and rent them out at reasonable rates. And The Free Bike Repair Clinic, which is a partnership between 441 Ministries, R-Community Bikes, and the Little Flower Community, and provides bike repairs all summer long."
What is the biggest fundraising challenge your nonprofit has faced, and how did you deal with it?
"At the beginning of 2020, we purchased two buildings right across the street, one of which was unoccupied and the other was a hub for drug activity, with the intention of renovating them and turning them into a coffee roastery, kids and teens ministry space, and a new laundromat. Those were big-ticket purchases for us. And then the pandemic hit, so we were in a season of forced, rapid growth combined with the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. I reached out to our church partners, inviting them to come here to see what was going on with the cafe and the ministries. They gave above and beyond their normal giving! Northridge, Browncroft, Grace Road, New City Fellowship, Perinton Community Church, and Grace Church were absolutely phenomenal. Also, certain donors were able to offer matching gift challenges, we mailed appeal letters to our donors, we wrote grants, and our board stepped up. We are still working on the renovations, but overall have fared quite well through the pandemic."
What are you most proud of professionally?
"I am most proud of the progress of one of our cafe employees, Jasmine, who is preparing to leave employment at the cafe to pursue a career in the nursing field. She was one of our first employees and has been working with us for more than five years. Because of our devotion to her, we changed the entire staffing model at New City Cafe. Initially, we planned to only employ teenagers part-time and upon graduating high school we would "send them off into the world." However, shortly after graduating high school, Jasmine was pregnant, and it was clear she needed a loving community to continue supporting her as she embarked on an exciting yet challenging future. At the same time, Jasmine had learned so much at New City Cafe and was one of our most talented employees. Therefore, we offered her a full-time job at the cafe, and she has been thriving in that role ever since. Although we are going to miss her deeply now that she is going to become a nurse, we are excited for her to move on to a career that we are confident she will succeed in. I am so proud of this story because it truly captures all that New City Cafe hopes to be. Our website says that we give teenagers and young adults "an opportunity to discover and utilize their gifts...[and] gives them the skills needed to envision and pursue a successful future." Jasmine has fulfilled that mission and I couldn't be prouder of her and of New City Cafe for creating the opportunity for her."
What are you most proud of personally?
"I am most proud of my marriage with Patience. She is an incredible woman who loves the Lord and serves Him faithfully. Although it can be challenging both working in ministry, I am grateful for all the ways we're able to support each other. There are so many biblical images relating Jesus' relationship with the church to marriage and I hope that our marriage can provide that symbol in a small way in our community."
What is something most people don't know about you?
"I come from a family of entrepreneurs, especially in the restaurant business. My dad owned and operated several businesses in Rochester and my cousins own quite a few successful restaurants and other businesses in Penn Yan."
What advice do you have for other nonprofit leaders who may be facing fundraising challenges?
"Truly get to know your donors as friends and don’t be afraid to ask for contributions. People want to give to your organization – it’s a really fulfilling experience for donors. We learned this the hard way! We get to know our donors as people and friends; we find out what excites them about this organization. When we needed $5,000 for the roastery, we knew exactly who cared about that and who to call, and this generous individual bridged the funding gap."