Mission 13: Extraordinary Giving

Mission 13: Extraordinary Giving

Mission 13 started when a 12-year-old girl in Kentucky decided to dream an extraordinary dream. She was turning 13 and wanted to make her birthday count. Morgan dedicated the entrance into her teen years to Nashville Rescue Mission. She spent months collecting clothing and other much needed items to give to those in need. She didn’t want her birthday to be all about her–instead, she wanted it to be a day of service. “God told me to do something and I obeyed him,” she shared.

This year, Morgan turned 14 and did it all over again. She saw our pleas for water and rallied her local community. Friends, family, neighbors, and church members came together to donate over five THOUSAND bottles of water. That’s right…5,000! Her family’s car and storage spaces were filled to the brim. What a great problem to have!

This August, they made the drive from Kentucky to Nashville one Sunday morning. A member of her church donated a trailer to help transport the donations. They packed up the water bottles and headed south. Mission staff were so excited to greet them when they arrived. Those water bottles are literally going to save lives in this Tennessee heat.


“First of all I want to thank God for making this all possible and for helping me through everything,” Morgan said. “Mission 13 has grown so much, and I want to say how thankful I am to all of you that have supported me and donated! You truly are dedicated to helping others, and it means so much!”

We are grateful for Morgan and her family for all of their hard work and dedication. They are already planning to collect more needed items and return this winter!

STAND Nashville at TPAC

Nashville Rescue Mission is honored to be one of the benefactors of writer Jim Reyland’s play, STAND, appearing live on stage at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center on September 25th and 26th.

The play, based on a true story, is about Mr. Johnny Ellis, a man addicted to drugs and living on the streets of Nashville. He meets an unlikely Good Samaritan,  a local businessman, who steps up to help him. It’s a heartfelt, moving, and inspiring story of friendship and redemption.

All proceeds from the performances benefit Nashville Rescue Mission, Room In the Inn, and Salvation Army. Not only is it great entertainment, but it makes a true impact in the lives of those in need in our city! Spread the word to your family, friends, school, or church group. It’s great for all ages. Watch the trailer here or purchase tickets below!

The Ripple Effect

The Ripple Effect

Like a pebble that gets thrown in the water, a volunteer’s gift of time and caring releases a ripple effect. These ripples are created and touch lives in many different ways. Some are more unexpected than others.

Jim Shackleford recently celebrated his one year anniversary as a volunteer in the education department at the Mission. “I’ve been donating to the Mission for over 30 years,” shares Jim. “But I never stopped to consider how I might be able to help as a volunteer until I read a volunteer story in a Mission newsletter about Jim Coonce.”

Having worked for IBM for 27 years, Jim S. had a lot in common with Jim C. Both men were retired. Both were engineers. Both had donated to Nashville Rescue Mission. It’s surprising they didn’t know each other. And today, they share one more thing in common–a passion for volunteering at the Mission.

“As a donor, I fully support and believe in the ministry of the Mission,” says Jim. “My wife Peggy and I love that it is faith-based and that they do not accept any government money so they can share the message of hope with those in need.”

Jim grew up in the area. He attended Hillsboro High School and graduated from Vanderbilt University. “I was familiar with the Mission, but other than financially supporting the ministry, I was not involved.” Jim had no idea his passion for math and teaching would intersect at a place he faithfully supports.

“After I retired from IBM, I took a job at Montgomery Bell Academy teaching math and became head of the entire math department where I worked for 16 years. When I was in college, I thought about becoming a teacher, but didn’t think it would support myself and family. I never imagined later in life I could find a way to blend my knowledge and experience with my passions and help the men in the Mission’s Life Recovery Program.”

Jim says teaching adults is different from teaching teenagers. “The men I’ve met at the Mission come from all walks of life. Most of them are struggling with addiction. They’ve faced greater tragedies than dropping out of school. I admire their efforts and determination in seeking to further their education, regardless of their age or situation.”

“Volunteering in the education department at the Mission is different than anything else I’ve ever experienced,” says Jim. “After working with the men, seeing their faces when they succeed, how proud they are when they receive the news of passing their HiSET (High School Equivalency Test) exam … I’m even more enthusiastic about giving today than I was before.”

One of the highlights of Jim’s time volunteering has been working with a 19-year-old man who dropped out of school in ninth grade. “Dalton was the first person I worked with who passed the HiSET exam and received his diploma. It was exhilarating to see his face when he learned he’d passed. Seeing his photograph on the wall brought joy to his face, as well as mine.”

Jim loves that the Mission displays photos of students who pass the HiSET exam. “It’s a reminder there is hope. And that you’re never too old or too young to try. Having your high school diploma opens doors and for those struggling, this is a small thing that can make a big difference.”

Recently, Jim worked with William (cover story). After trying to pass the test seven times over the years, William was ready to give up. But Jim didn’t give up on him. “I knew William could do it. He just needed a little help, some encouragement, and dedication.”

“I couldn’t have passed the test with out Mr. Jim’s help,” says William. “He is more than just a teacher—-he is a friend, and mentor to me.”

“One of the biggest blessings of volunteering at the Mission is that I can teach math, but I can also talk about Jesus,” says Jim. “I couldn’t do that in my other jobs. It’s so great to be in this environment.”

Perhaps you’re like Jim, reading this right now and wondering how you might be able to help. Let the ripple effect touch you.

“The Mission can benefit from more good teachers volunteering their time to help those in need prepare for and take the HiSET exam,” says Jim. “And we need help in more areas than just math. There’s also science, social studies, reading, writing, and English. Consider donating your time and talents to the Mission. There are people who need you. I hope my story will inspire someone to volunteer the way Jim C.’s story did for me.”

From Tragedy to Triumph

From Tragedy to Triumph

“I have two children and have never once held them while sober. Today, I am a new man in Christ. I can’t wait to hold my kids and tell them I love them. I can’t wait for them to see me smile and hear me talk and read to them with teeth. I’m grateful for a new beginning.”

At 42, William has experienced more tragedy than most people do in a lifetime. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, William’s mom was a coal miner, and his dad left when he was five. He was abused and rebelled drinking and dating older women. “My mom beat me for dipping. I refused to cry. She wouldn’t take me to school, so I walked two hours to get to school. When they saw my bruises, the state took me away from her and placed me with my biological father. I didn’t know him and hadn’t seen him in years.”

“My father was an alcoholic,” says William. “He was married and had a new family. I had to move schools and struggled to fit in. I spent four months in a juvenile detention facility. It was either that or be put up for adoption.” William quit school in the 10th grade. And by the age of 19, he had been married and divorced.

Eventually remarrying, he was married to his second wife for sixteen years. All the while he continued to drink, was unfaithful, and got hooked on prescription pills. “I can’t blame her for divorcing me,” says William. “I wasn’t a good husband.”
WilliamDiplomaIn 2007, William met Laurie, a school teacher, and fell in love. “We met online and after a long-distance relationship, I moved to North Carolina to be with her. We married in 2008. We both enjoyed drinking, but she had no idea I was an alcoholic. At first I did a good job of hiding it from her. When we found out she was pregnant with Dakota, she immediately stopped drinking. I, on the other hand, did not.”

Following knee surgery, William found himself again abusing prescription drugs. “Things went downhill,” shares William. “I was using drugs around my kid. I got fired. I couldn’t find another job. My wife was pregnant with our second child, Jayden, and I was still lying to her. I went through a 90-day program, but three months later, I was using again.”

Still trying to find a way to make things work, William landed a job as a truck driver. “Three months in, I was a co-driver, when the lead driver got pulled over. I wasn’t driving, but I was drunk. Once the police contacted my employer, I was fired on the spot and stranded in the middle of Nebraska with only fifty dollars.”

Afraid to call his wife, William started walking. He walked over 100 miles before coming to a bus station in Des Moines, Iowa. “The ticket agent told me I didn’t have enough money to get to North Carolina, but I could get to Atlanta or Nashville. I chose Nashville.” While in route, William heard about the Traveler’s Aid program at Nashville Rescue Mission.

“It was 10:30 p.m. when I got there and the doors were closed,” says William. “They gave me a bed, but I was stuck there for the night. Turns out it was a blessing in disguise.” The next morning, William met with Peter, a case manager at the Mission, hoping to get a bus ticket home. “Peter asked me if I had a drug and alcohol problem. Boy did I ever. I had lost several jobs, my family, and my dignity. Peter then told me about the Mission’s Life Recovery Program. I didn’t have to think too hard to know I needed help, and it was right there in front of me for the taking.”

That day, William laid down his cigarettes and gave away everything he owned, including the last few dollars he had and committed to starting a new life. “When I arrived at the Mission, I was hopeless and scared. Today, I am redeemed. My sins have been forgiven. There are no words to express the deep gratitude I have to Nashville Rescue Mission, staff, volunteers, and those who faithfully give. You have given me a reason to smile.”

William waited two weeks before trying to contact his wife. “At first, she wouldn’t talk to me,” says William. “I don’t blame her. I wasn’t a good husband or father to our kids. She was filing for divorce, but after a couple of months, we started talking and instead of getting divorced, we’re planning to date, and start a new beginning.”

While at the Mission, William started attending First Baptist Nashville, where he was baptized in March. “I am so blessed. I’ve found joy in Jesus! I have a great church home where I met Ms. Carol–a complete stranger, and she’s sent me a card almost every week filled with words of encouragement.”

William’s tragedies started turning into triumphs and for the first time in a long time, he had hope. “After trying seven times to get my high school diploma, I finally passed!” exclaims William. “I couldn’t have done it without the help of faithful volunteers like Jim Shackleford, Jim Coonce, and Shane Ryan, the Mission’s education assistant. “These men invested their time in me. Their faith in me gave me confidence in myself.”

“I’m blown away by the kindness and care complete strangers show me and other men in the program,” says William. “They never expect anything in return. It’s humbling. When I arrived at the Mission, I had four teeth. Today, I have a complete set of dentures and can’t stop smiling. It’s the first time in a long time I can smile–and today, I actually have something to smile about.”

“Before, it was always about me,” says William. “I was hopeless. Today, I want to share the joy I now know with others. I’m thankful for those who give, because your gift gives me hope. I’m looking forward to the future, and because of you, I have a future. Thank you.”


American Idol’s Clark Beckham

American Idol’s Clark Beckham

Playing on the streets wasn’t what I expected.

I live to sing and play music. I thought playing on the streets of Nashville would be glamorous, that I would make lots of money. A student at Lee University at the time, I was learning how to work hard. As a member of Lee’s Campus Choir, touring on weekends and school breaks, I was applying my work ethic to my music. In doing so I became comfortable singing for people. Playing on the streets during the summer and Christmas breaks seemed like easy money.

My first night I staked my claim at the corner of Third and Broadway, my guitar case open to receive spare change from those passing by. After an hour I counted what I’d collected so far—$2. The streets are the ultimate equalizer. There is no glamor in watching people ignore you or, worse, go out of their way to avoid you. I would learn the ropes, but it took time.

Of course, playing on the streets, I saw people living on the streets. One night I’d been playing for a while when a man walked up. We talked. He didn’t ask me for anything. I asked him if I could get him something to eat. He let me buy him a hot dog, and we sat and talked. He wanted to change the course of his life, get off the streets, he said, adding that he had a job interview in a couple of days. I thought he was genuine, and I wanted to help. I offered to put him in a hotel until his interview. He looked at me, unbelieving. Then, convinced I was serious, he jumped up and spun around like a kid on Christmas morning. He didn’t care what people thought. He was on his way to a hot shower!

A few weeks later, I was competing in the Hollywood Week phase of American Idol. On camera the judges asked me a question, to which I replied, “I think America is hungry for the groove.” That phrase, “Hungry for the groove,” got some media attention, inspiring my friend Zeke to design a T‑shirt. I knew I wanted the proceeds from the sale of the shirt to help the homeless. Nashville Rescue Mission was the obvious choice. The Mission is making a real and practical difference in the lives of the homeless and the money they receive is used to provide hot meals and shelter. (The purchase of one of my T-shirts provides two homeless individuals a hot meal.)

The Mission is also a faith-based organization. What good is it to have a home on earth if you don’t have one in heaven? The Mission is working to set people free from the chains of addiction that have bound them, so they may run the course God has for them. People are people, whether they have a home or not. Jesus says if we are asked and have the ability to give, we are to give. Living without shelter, without income, without enough food is no one’s God-given destiny. The homeless do have a course to run. Because of Nashville Rescue Mission, they also have somewhere to run to.


Clark Beckham is a singer, songwriter, and musician. He was born in Nashville and grew up in White House, Tennessee. He graduated from Lee University with a degree in History. Most of his musical experience comes from playing in church and on street corners. Beckham finished as American Idol Season XIV runner-up. Visit clarkbeckham.com to learn more.

Honoring a Life Lost by Serving Others

There are so many different reasons why people volunteer. Audra recently spent time serving at our men’s campus kitchen with her son. Her reason for volunteering was a tad different than normal.

A few years ago, her friend’s husband passed away unexpectedly. It was tragic. To honor him, his wife and three young sons asked friends and family to perform an act of kindness each year. Rather than dwell on the unfortunate, they chose to use their energy and passion to bring joy to the lives of others. After each anniversary, they sit down and read about the acts of kindness done in his honor. It’s a special time and way to aid their grieving process.

This year, Audra chose to honor her friend by volunteering at Nashville Rescue Mission. She brought her seven-year-old son Timothy. “It was important to me that he participate hands-on in the act of kindness and understand why we were doing it,” she shares. “As we worked on the serving line, I looked up several times and saw worn faces … it broke my heart. I was especially moved by the kitchen crew. Several of them were in Mission’s Life Recovery Program, and they all stood together in a circle and prayed after everyone was served. Each person shared something they were grateful for that day.”


Audra also used this as an opportunity to teach her son the importance of a meal to someone who is homeless, and how finite these items are. “He first put yogurt on the trays and when the yogurt ran out, he served apples and oranges. And when the apples and oranges ran out, he served desserts,” she continues. “It can be hard as a kid to be patient and serve everyone first and eat last. That was a good lesson as well. We were there to serve others.”

The next week, Audra decided to return and serve dinner once again. Timothy immediately asked if he could join. “We really struggled financially a few years ago, but he [Timothy] was too young to remember. It’s important for our kids to see that not everyone lives the same way. And that ALL people matter, regardless of where they live.”

We are so thankful to have people like Audra and Timothy join our cause and help those in need. And we are even more honored to play a small part in remembering her friend’s life.