Josh Wilson’s “That Was Then. This is Now”

“Today represents something beautiful,” Josh said, looking at the first row of the audience, a row of men about to graduate from the Nashville Rescue Mission’s Life Recovery Program. “Here in a second we’re going to see some ‘before’ pictures of when you guys first arrived here.”

A few weeks prior to this graduation ceremony, acclaimed musician Josh Wilson approached us and asked if he could perform his new single, not then released, for the men graduating from the program. Josh, a long time friend and volunteer here, knew that such a song would be more than fitting for the event. It talked about change.

If anyone knows how hard change can be, it’s the men and women in recovery. Looking back at the past, working through the in-between, and moving into the future is difficult. Overcoming addictions and restoring relationships isn’t easy. But with grace, determination, and support it IS possible to say, “that was then and this is now.”

“Everyone in this room has a ‘before,’” he continued. “Our pictures might not be up on this screen but we have our stories. We have bad things we wish we could go back and undo. But the beautiful thing about the grace of Jesus Christ is that we don’t HAVE to go back and undo them. Because He died for us on the cross, and if we place our faith in Him, we can turn from our sins and follow Him and HE can undo them for us… this song is for you guys.”

We are so grateful to Josh for once again sharing his heart with us and using his talent to serve those in need right here in Middle Tennessee where he lives. His reminder to put the past behind and move forward through Jesus’ grace is one we won’t soon forget!

Beating the Heat on the Streets

Beating the Heat on the Streets

Paul grabbed the half-empty, plastic bottle he planned to fill with water from the bus station later that afternoon. He had been camping along the Cumberland River for two days trying to find a spot with some shade, he said. Although he could easily have stayed cool under a bridge, he chose to endure the heat so he could camp alone, hidden behind trees, boulders, and bushes.

“Believe me, I appreciate it when the sun goes down,” said Paul, 40, who called himself homeless. “Summers in Nashville can be brutal. But sleeping on the streets can also be very scary. I’m not sure which is worse.”

No doubt about it, July and August can be uncomfortable outside of air-conditioned environments. There’s also a moderate amount of rainfall in Nashville during the summer. If you’re homeless, that’s a lot of external elements to contend with.

“Many of the homeless men, women, and children in our community do not have ready access to water,” said Glenn Cranfield, president and CEO of Nashville Rescue Mission. “We recognize that extremely hot weather poses hardships for homeless people who are elderly or disabled, struggle with alcohol or drug addiction, suffer from medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, or who take medications that cause sensitivity to the hot sun. People can become dehydrated rapidly in extremely hot weather and anyone ‘passed out,’ lying in the sun or badly sunburned is medically at risk. It’s why we activate our Hot Patrol teams whenever the temperature rises above 90 degrees.

“With more than half of summer days in Nashville experiencing highs in the 90s, the heat can cause lots of problems for the homeless, especially those who are unsheltered,” said Eric Grindeland, senior director of guest ministries at the Mission. “Our Hot Patrol teams are riding around, handing out bottles of water, with the hope of reaching those who are homeless, addicted, and possibly sick, and who may not have the insight and judgment to get out of the heat. We want to bring them back to the Mission, where they can get out of the heat, get cold water, and in the midst of providing them with radical hospitability, we can give them some hope for a better future.”

Homeless people die much earlier than the general population, with a life expectancy of 48 years, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. Sometimes offering a bottle of water to a homeless person could make the difference between life and death.

“I’ve slept on the streets of Nashville in the summertime,” says Joe (58), “and it’s not fun. Nashville can feel like an oven, especially when the wind is not blowing. It costs $2.00 at one of the gift shops downtown for a bottle of water. When you only have a few dollars in your pocket, you start to wonder how thirsty you really are. Thirst and hunger make people do crazy things—like getting water from places, you wouldn’t normally. I’m done with sleeping on the streets. Nashville Rescue Mission makes it an easy decision for me. Here I’m given a safe, cool place to sleep. I can get three meals a day. And in the summer, cold water is available all day long. They are giving me a chance to change my life and I’m grateful.”

“I’ve been homeless off and on for over 10 years,” says Dewayne (53). “It’s rough sleeping outside. Not only is it hot in the summer, but it’s also dangerous. Whether it’s dealing with fleas, ticks, wild dogs, spiders, or snakes to worrying about who’s going to sneak up on you while you’re sleeping and steal your stuff or attack you.” Since coming to the Mission, Dewayne has gotten off drugs and alcohol. He’s currently interviewing for a job and hopes to eventually move into his own apartment. “Staying at the Mission has been a blessing. I have a roof over my head, and I don’t have to worry about things like the heat, lightening, or other environmental issues.”

“Whether it’s the summer or winter, we try to accommodate people in any way we can,” said Grindeland. “During the day, if it gets really hot our guests can come into the dayroom, where it’s nice and cool. This is something we make available at our Men’s Campus as well as our Women’s Campus.”

At Nashville Rescue Mission, those in need find more than just a cool place to rest, or a cold drink of water. With your help, those who are broken, homeless, and hurting, find hope. Thank you.

Come Alongside

Come Alongside

Eddie Sanders was driving down Lafayette Street when he first spotted Nashville Rescue Mission’s parking lot. This would be the perfect place to host a cookout he thought to himself. Turns out he was right.

As a volunteer with Star Ministries, Eddie was constantly on the lookout for ways to serve those in the urban community. Whether it was giving food to those in need from their food pantry, to hosting picnics in the Napier neighborhood for the families who live there—giving back has always been at the heart of their ministry.

“When I saw the Mission’s parking lot back in 2003, they had not been in their current building that long, so I guess that’s why it never had occurred to me before,” said Eddie. “But in that moment, I knew it would be a great place to host a cookout and a wonderful ministry to partner with. The Mission was already helping those in need and we could come alongside them in giving back to the community.”

Today, the celebration, which usually takes place around Labor Day, is much more than a cookout. It’s food, entertainment, music, and a time to share the hope found in Jesus Christ.

Eddie, who says he loves working for the Lord, looks forward to the annual event that has now evolved into a partnership between his church, Morningstar Missionary Baptist Church and Fellowship Bible. While these two churches may be on opposite sides of the city, they have joined in one accord to help those in need.

“Back in 2009, Fellowship Bible approached us,” said Eddie. “They wanted to support Star Ministries’ Food Pantry. One thing led to another and they decided to come alongside us in several other outreach ministry opportunities, including this annual event at Nashville Rescue Mission.”

“We believe strategic partnerships are the life-blood of an effective and sustainable ministry,” said Joel Guinness, adult ministries associate at Fellowship Bible. “Our aim is to lock arms with like-minded churches and organizations that are already doing great work in particular areas of the community and throughout the world. Through these relationships we can bridge cultural gaps and answer the question, ‘What can we do to help?’ Sometimes the answer isn’t as simple as you might think.”

What Fellowship has in plenty is sometimes exactly what partners’ lack—financial and equipping resources, and exposure to different kinds of strategies that can make a big difference in moving Kingdom initiatives forward. “Sometimes helping looks like giving money, sometimes it’s donating material goods, and sometimes it’s volunteering,” said Joel. “Whatever the case may be, we want to join with partners like Morning Star and Nashville Rescue Mission to figure out how we can best help.”

“It is amazing what we can do when we work together to bring glory to God,” said Joel. “It’s the church—the body of Christ—serving together. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Lelan Statom

Lelan Statom

I’ve considered myself a part of Nashville Rescue Mission’s family for almost 15 years. It started with a partnership between the Mission and NewsChannel 5 and has evolved beyond the scope of what I do at work. Serving at the Mission is something my wife Yolanda and I look forward to doing together with our children, Kayela (20) and Taylor (13).

Our family is fortunate and blessed. As parents, we believe in teaching our children the value of serving others. In fact, I see it as our responsibility to help those who aren’t as fortunate as we are.

The first year I brought my family, my daughter Kayela, who was around 10 at the time, kept asking about the people we were serving. She wanted to know why they were at the Mission and not at home. As a father, it was a valuable teaching moment for me. I was able to explain some of the reasons people are homeless and how the Mission helps them get back on their feet. Today, she and my son Taylor both look forward to volunteering at the Mission.

As a meteorologist, I spend a lot of time studying the weather. One thing many people don’t realize is there are more heat-related deaths than there are any other weather-related deaths. In Nashville, this is definitely of concern to our homeless community. It’s not uncommon for temperatures in the summer to reach into the 90s for days at a time. It was only a few years ago, we had an all-time high of 107. On hot days, if someone is homeless and not in a sheltered environment, they probably aren’t properly hydrated. If their health is compromised, they aren’t going to listen to the cues their body is giving them—ignoring their thirst. It’s a good chance this person is dehydrated and at a great risk for heat stroke.

I’m thankful Nashville Rescue Mission exists in our community. They are out on the streets during these hot days handing out bottles of water to those in need, doing what they can to help the homeless stay hydrated. I can only imagine what Nashville would be like if the Mission didn’t exist. I think we’d see a much bigger crisis than there is already. There would be many more people with no place to go.

I don’t know what brings a person to the point of seeking help at the Mission. But I know regardless of the situation or circumstance, the Mission extends hope and a helping hand to those in need. It’s why I support Nashville Rescue Mission and look forward to volunteering my time there.

Lelan A. Statom is an Emmy Award winning meteorologist who has been helping families in Middle Tennessee start their day for more than 15 years. Since 1999, he has been part of NewsChannel 5 This Morning, the station’s #1 rated morning newscast. Lelan joined the station in 1993 to do the weekend weathercasts and became co-host of Talk of the Town in 2006. 

7 Ways to Help the Homeless This Summer

7Ways_Help_Homeless_SquareWhen temperatures are extreme, many immediately begin to think about the homeless. If you’re suffering from heat, imagine how much more those without homes are! We know you’re concerned and want to help. So we’ve compiled some tips to help you be effective in your outreach. Here are 7 ways to help the homeless this summer.

  1. Donate bottled water

    We’ll have it in our building and also pass it out on the streets to keep the homeless hydrated.

  1. Make a financial donation

    If you don’t have time to go the store, donate online and we’ll do the purchasing.

  1. Donate nonperishable food

    Homeless shelters tend to run low on food during this time of the year.

  1. Clean out your closet

    Think about cool and light items like white T-shirts, tank tops, and shorts. We need underwear too (but new ones, please!)

  1. Give toiletry items

    Travel-sized toiletry items (alcohol-free) are best.

  1. Volunteer

    Give the gift of your time. Bring your smile and help us serve.

  1. Pray

    You can do it anywhere, anytime – when you drink your own water or see someone on the curb.


We Needed Water & Sam’s Club Brought It!

We Needed Water & Sam’s Club Brought It!

Summer in Tennessee is no joke. With temperatures nearing 100 in mid-June and humidity so thick you feel like you could swim in it, staying hydrated is especially important. Most people find themselves grabbing a bottle of water before they leave the house and cranking up the air conditioning.

But imagine if the only place you could get some air conditioning was the library? And if you had no sink to get a glass of water from? For the thousands of homeless men, women, and children in Nashville, this is a reality.

Once the temperatures peak, we launch our “Hot Patrol.” We put cold, bottled water in our van and drive around the city, giving it to the homeless to make sure they are safe and hydrated. We also offer them a ride back to the Mission so they don’t have to walk across town to get to us in the heat.

But in order to do this, we need water. And lots of it. Even to serve the homeless on a normal day we need water. And this year, water donations were lower than usual. We became DESPERATE.

Billy, senior director of operations for the Mission, called Jeanette, who works in the receiving department at Sam’s Club in Hendersonville to see if they could help. Jeanette’s worked at Sam’s for over 30 years and is always willing to help. When she got the call, she sprung into action.

Jeanette called the Assistant Market Manager, Sondi. Sondi then made a few phone calls and soon enough, all six area Sam’s Clubs offered to each donate a pallet of water—six pallets in total. Water came from Murfreesboro, Antioch, Bellevue, Clarksville, Hendersonville, and Cool Springs. Tammy, the forklift operator, told us she said a prayer over the water before Billy came to pick it up.

“We love to represent Sam’s Club in a positive way in our community,” Jeanette shared. “And we like to help Nashville Rescue Mission any time we can.”

Thank you Sam’s Club, Jeanette, Sondi, and Tammy! Thanks to the generosity of the employees and Sam’s Clubs in the Nashville area, we are able to continue to hydrate the homeless this summer.