Mayor Karl Dean

Mayor Karl Dean

Over the past eight years, one of my favorite experiences as Mayor has been serving Thanksgiving meals at Nashville Rescue Mission. I always enjoy the “Great Thanksgiving Banquet” and the chance to support such an important institution as the Rescue Mission. The Mission delivers hope for so many who have experienced hopelessness.

I’ve been proud to support the Mission and pleased to see it grow and change as the city of Nashville grows and changes, too. Last year, I told you I’m “thankful that our world-class city has a world-class organization like Nashville Rescue Mission,” and I continue to believe that. The Mission provides critical services for the homeless and the hopeless where government cannot.

The author Pearl S. Buck said, “To eat bread without hope is still slowly to starve to death,” and I think that sums up the guiding principles of the Mission’s work as well. Though it serves countless hot meals, provides safe and clean shelter night after night, and tends to the needs of hundreds of Nashvillians daily, what the Mission truly delivers is hope: hope for employment and self-sufficiency; hope for a way out of crippling addiction or criminal activity; hope for a brighter tomorrow.

It takes hope for a person to want to work to overcome the obstacles in his or her life. It also sometimes takes help—with overcoming an addiction, with finding a job or with knowing where to start—to translate that hope into action. Through its programs and ministry, the Mission provides tools that will help homeless Nashvillians change their lives for the better. But these transformations are not easy, and it takes hope and a guiding hand to achieve success.

I often say that Nashville’s best days are still ahead of us, and I believe that about the Mission as well. The Mission is a leader in Nashville’s network of organizations that serve the homeless, and I’m pleased they are participating in such innovative efforts as How’s Nashville and the Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.

I’d like to thank the staff and volunteers of the Mission for allowing me to join you these past eight years. I’ve been pleased to stand with you as you work tirelessly to restore hope and help Nashville’s homeless citizens transform their lives for the better.

Karl Dean was the sixth Mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County and completed his second term in office in September 2015.



Up-Close and Personal

Up-Close and Personal

Mike and Debbie have a heart for those in need. They’ve worked in full-time evangelic ministry for years, traveling across the country while ministering at churches and camps. During one visit to Oklahoma several years ago, they served alongside Glenn Cranfield, now Nashville Rescue Mission’s CEO, and his wife Shelly. In conversations together, they shared their thoughts on how they could help those in need while using their creative ideas to make a bigger impact. “It was a time to dream,” said Mike.

A few years later, Mike and Debbie relocated to Nashville. They researched local organizations to see which ones they would support. When they came across Nashville Rescue Mission, they were intrigued. “We found a nonprofit we could fully believe in,” said Mike. “An organization that combined emergency help with sustainable hope and transformation was something we could get behind.” They continued to support the Mission financially for several years, reading the newsletter each month, and being overjoyed by the inspiring stories of hope. “Sadly, we’d never seen the Mission’s work up-close, and personal.”

But that was about to change. Imagine Mike’s surprise and delight when he received a text message from Glenn asking if he and his wife Debbie knew anything about the president and CEO of Nashville Rescue Mission back in 2012. While Mike’s answer was, “no,” ironically it was Glenn’s way of letting them know he and Shelly were moving to Nashville, as he had accepted the position of president and CEO of the Mission.

Over a “Welcome to Nashville” dinner, they chatted with the Cranfields about the city and the Mission’s impact on the homeless community. “Glenn asked us if we’d ever visited the Mission. We BodyImage_VolunteerStoryhadn’t,” Mike recalls.

After that, Mike and Debbie scheduled a time to serve lunch at the Mission. “It was a moving and hopeful experience,” shared Mike. “Seeing our gifts in action enabled us to see a new side of the organization. We were able to observe God using people in their gifts and skills to glorify Him and help the least fortunate.”

For more than two years now, Mike and Debbie have continued to serve lunch once a week at the Men’s Campus of the Mission. But they do much more than meet a physical need by preparing and serving food. They’ve developed deep friendships and mentor relationships with the men in the Mission’s Life Recovery Program, offering them encouragement and witnessing their transformation while progressing through the program.

“We have the privilege of watching a man come into the program with his head down, ashamed, and in dire need,” shared Mike. “We then get to watch him progress over the next few months, graduate, and get a job. We can name so many of the men we’ve met! They’re on the right path and are productive citizens.”

Debbie, who recently suffered a stroke, still appreciates her time volunteering at the Mission. She’s able to use her skills to help others in a community environment outside of their home. It gives her hope, positivity, and encouragement. Many men have invited Mike and Debbie to watch them graduate from the Mission’s program, especially in place of their biological families who may not be able to attend. This, Mike says, is the highest honor.


YOU Make Thanksgiving Great!

YOU Make Thanksgiving Great!

“The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.” H.U. Westermayer

Among those giving thanks this holiday season are hundreds of homeless in Nashville. It is time once again for Nashville Rescue Mission’s annual Great Thanksgiving Banquet.

Two days of cooking, 500 turkeys, and between 700 to 800 volunteers working add up to more than 6,000 meals being served to those in need of some Thanksgiving spirit throughout the BodyImage_CoverStory2Thanksgiving holiday.

“Over a 1,000 people will enjoy a free Thanksgiving meal during a season of thankfulness and gratitude,” said Billy Eldridge, senior director of operations for the Mission. “But it doesn’t happen without a good group of volunteers.”

Volunteers as young as 6-years-old, along with many first-time volunteers, families, and organizations have made volunteering at the Mission an annual tradition. Time and time again, volunteers tell us, “I’m the one who benefited the most by this experience.”

“It’s not uncommon to see three generations of families join in the excitement of the holiday by volunteering at the Mission, especially during Thanksgiving,” said Bryant Burton, director of volunteer services. “Volunteering strengthens the bond of family and friendship, while teaching kids about charity. It is a richly rewarding experience with an eternal impact.”

When asked what they like most about helping those in need, volunteers had this to say:

BodyImage_CoverStory“The best thing about volunteering is watching the men and women grow in their walk with Jesus.” Shelley Meadows

“There’s nothing like peeling LOTS of potatoes with friends while meeting the men and women who come to the Mission in need of help and hope.” ‪Carrie Michelle Lynn‪ 

“It’s amazing to witness the transformation of the men and women in the Life Recovery Program from their first day, until graduation. Seeing them come in broken and hurt, to becoming strong and experiencing joy again is truly a miracle.” Justin French

“Serving others and seeing them smile when you say to them, ‘Enjoy your meal and have a nice day’ always makes me feel good.” Kathy Bridgen

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.”

“It’s true,” said Rev. Glenn Cranfield, the Mission’s President and CEO. “Everyone wants to be needed. We all want to feel like we’re making a difference in someone else’s life. It’s a universal human need. Volunteering to help those who are less fortunate is like medicine to our soul.”

“The Mission does something the Bible tells us to do—and that is to love people unconditionally,” said French. “I used to believe giving back to the community was optional. Now I believe giving back to the community is a responsibility we all have. While volunteering at the Mission, I discovered there were people just like me and you, who had run out of hope, ran into hard times, lost their jobs, maybe lost their families, and didn’t have anywhere else to go. Seeing this first hand really brings the awareness that this could be any us.”

Betty, who was a first time volunteer last year, said she’s been blessed with many things and wants to be a blessing to others. “It makes you feel joy in your heart to be able to help those less fortunate than yourself,” said Betty. “I’m thankful for Jesus and my salvation, I want to pass that on.”

“Whether it’s through your gift of time serving those in need, or supporting us with a financial gift, YOU are what makes Thanksgiving great at Nashville Rescue Mission,” said Cranfield. “We could not do this without you.”

“I can’t wait to see you there..” – Rudy Gatlin

“I can’t wait to see you there..” – Rudy Gatlin

Three years ago, our group, Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, was invited to perform at Nashville Rescue Mission’s annual Music with a Mission concert, an event that has raised over $525,000 to help feed the hungry and house the homeless in Middle Tennessee.

It is a marvelous event. The venue is beautiful, the symphony is incredible, and the artists who perform are some of the best in the music industry. They also care about the less fortunate and perform not just to entertain, but to make a difference while encouraging others to do the same.  

The night is truly a moving experience as each year, a graduate from the Mission’s Life Recovery Program shares a few words. It’s amazing to hear the success story firsthand, directly from someone impacted by a donor’s gift.

My brothers and I look forward to this year’s Music with a Mission event, alongside artists like American Idol’s Clark Beckham, family musicians The Isaacs, new country act Mo Pitney, and the legendary Charlie McCoy.

Those who attend won’t be disappointed because once again it’s a lineup filled with talent and passion. It’s a chance to interact with the Mission on a different level and help the homeless of Middle Tennessee.

I can’t wait to see you there on October 18th. 

Rudy Gatlin