COLD WEATHER ALERT:
COLD WEATHER ALERT:
It’s Friday night and Shelley and Glenn Meadows are ready for their date night. But instead of heading out to the newest restaurant in Nashville, they’re on their way to Nashville Rescue Mission. For the last four years, the two have spent their date night serving at the Mission. Not meals–but coffee, fellowship, and fun.
“A friend at church mentioned they were starting a Friday night coffeehouse at the Mission for the men in their Life Recovery Program,” said Shelley. “She said there would be food, music, and fellowship. Glenn and I decided to go. We went the third week and we’ve been going ever since.” Shelley had other experiences with the Mission, having volunteered back in the 90s when she was a single mom and her son was in elementary school. “I felt it was important to teach my son we should be grateful for our blessings and not take them for granted.”
Fast forward to today, Shelley’s son is all grown up, and now she and her husband Glenn find joy in going to the Mission each week to fellowship with men. “After that first time, I’ll never forget asking Glenn what he wanted to do on Friday night, and he replied, ‘Let’s go to the Mission.’ That was four years ago and outside of missing here and there, if it’s Friday night, the Mission is where you’ll find us.”
Even in the last year, battling Glenn’s recovery from knee surgery and other family issues, this dynamic duo puts volunteering at the Mission at the top of their list. “In addition to giving our time to the Mission, we also volunteer at our church and several other organizations. But we get more out of being at the Mission than anything else we do,” shared Shelley. “Glenn and I get a chance to see first-hand, how God can take a broken man, give him hope, and watch him fight to stay alive. Miracles are happening every day at the Mission. People are saved. It’s a beautiful thing to see.”
“We started our Friday night coffeehouse to show the men in our program how to have a family-friendly, fun night without the influence of drugs or alcohol,” said Currey Womack, a counselor at Nashville Rescue Mission. “Many of the men and women who come to us in search of help, have never experienced anything like this. It makes an impression on them to see volunteers come in week after week, at first strangers, but over time becoming more like family. They bring snacks, serve coffee, play games, play music, or sing karaoke. The fact that none of them have to be there, but simply choose to be there is not lost on our students. Coffeehouse has become as much a part of our ministry as chores, classes, and counseling. While it started at our Men’s Campus, it’s now going strong at our Women’s Campus, too.”
While Glenn Meadows, one of Nashville’s most highly, sought after sound engineers, runs the sound board at the Friday night coffeehouse at the Mission, Shelley brings snacks, helps serve food, and has started crocheting hats and scarves for the men. This has become their ministry.
“I’ll never forget Bobby, who we met during that first year,” recalled Shelley. “He was a big, ole teddy bear of a man, who had spent a long time in the penitentiary. He had no idea what I was doing when I asked him his favorite color. As Christmas neared, I handed him a present–inside was a blue scarf I had crocheted for him. In my mind, it was just a little thing. But as he said to me, with tears in his eyes, ‘This is the first Christmas present I’ve received since I was a baby,’ I knew it meant so much more than words could ever say. It changed me. It changed us.”
“I can’t imagine our lives without volunteering at the Mission,” said Shelley. “Regardless of whether you’re serving a meal, chopping vegetables, crocheting hats, working a sound board, teaching a class, mentoring a homeless student–there is something for you to do at the Mission. It’s a place where anyone and everyone can get involved. You can use your talent or skill to help someone in need of hope. It’s so easy to love on people. All you need is a little time and a heart to help.You won’t regret it. I promise.”
Shortly after being drafted by the Tennessee Titans, I participated in the Tracy Lawrence Turkey Fry at the Mission. It was my first time to volunteer there and it was an incredible experience.
My fiancé Dominique and I share a passion for uplifting charitable organizations, families, and individuals. So when the Turkey Fry rolled around the following year, I invited her to join me. We helped fry over 500 turkeys in one day. It was hard work, but we had fun. The real blessing was knowing those turkeys would provide the men, women, and children at the Mission with a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal.
The Mission does a remarkable job of serving the homeless in our city. But I soon realized providing the homeless with meals and shelter was only the tip of the iceberg. As I got more involved, I learned about the different programs they offer to help those in need get back on their feet.
In November of 2014, Dominique kicked off her 25 Wishes for her 25th Birthday by joining me at the Turkey Fry. During the course of those 25 days, we made several trips to the Mission. In addition to the Turkey Fry, we helped serve Thanksgiving Dinner, and wrapped up day 23 of the celebration by hosting a Christmas dinner for the men in the Mission’s Life Recovery Program.
I was moved by my experience at the dinner. I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with several of the men who were in the midst of the Mission’s residential recovery program. One gentleman opened up his heart and shared his life story with me. I admired his willingness to do that, and without fear, no less.
Dominique and I have found other ways to serve, like the Mission’s Hearts of Hope event that takes place in February. This is an event to honor the women who stay at the Mission. Mark your calendars, because this year’s event is on Saturday, February 13th. You don’t want to miss it.
I have been so blessed in my life. Now it’s my turn to give back and be a blessing to others. There are many needs at the Mission. There are also numerous ways to give back, whether it’s volunteering to serve a meal, fry a turkey, teach a class, or donate. There is a place for everyone who has a willing heart.
Words can’t describe what it’s like to volunteer at the Mission. It’s something you have to experience for yourself. I invite you to join me in supporting Nashville Rescue Mission. I promise it’s a life-changer. It definitely was for Dominique and me. I’m looking forward to doing more.
Coty Sensabaugh is a cornerback for the Tennessee Titans. He was selected by the Titans with the 115th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He grew up in Kingsport, TN and played college football at Clemson University.
At 68, Jerry had never been without a home—until December 15, 2014—the day he walked through the doors of Nashville Rescue Mission.
“I’ve never not had a place to live,” said Jerry. “But I put myself in a bad situation. After retiring at 63 and collecting social security, I soon discovered it wasn’t enough for me to live on. So I moved in with friends. I helped with the bills and watched their kids while they worked. Turns out they weren’t paying the bills. So when they were evicted, so was I.” With nowhere else to go, Jerry went to Nashville Rescue Mission.
Originally from Galveston, Texas, Jerry grew up in a traditional home. “My parents were great. We went to church every Sunday. I had wonderful brothers and sisters. In 1964, I graduated high school and joined the Navy.” After serving active duty in the Vietnam War, Jerry left the Navy and several years later he joined the Marine Corp, where he proudly served the United States of America until 1982.
“I started drinking and using drugs during Vietnam,” said Jerry. “My drug use stopped after I left the service. I never was a heavy user. I popped some pills and smoked some weed, no intravenous stuff. Thankfully, I gave all that up when I left the service..”
After the military, Jerry spent the next half of his career working in the auto parts industry. “I managed several auto parts stores before coming to Tennessee in the late 1990s with a girlfriend. Shortly after that, I moved to Nashville.” During that time, Jerry’s struggle with drinking was intermittent.
“I don’t like to use the word, but I was an alcoholic,” Jerry said. “One day I just stopped drinking, but I needed a place to get away from the alcohol. That’s when I went to a halfway house. In fact, after I retired, I even spent time managing two different halfway houses.”
Looking back, Jerry sees God’s hand all over his life, especially in this situation. “I had prayed for the last 15 years about my drinking. I had given up on my faith in the Lord. But one day, He set me free from the desire to drink. I realized God can help you when nobody else can. You could go through all the programs in the world, but you’ve got to have God’s help.”
Despite growing up in a church, Jerry turned away from his beliefs over the years. “You can’t have faith unless you participate in it,” said Jerry. “I didn’t participate. I was drinking and doing whatever I wanted. While living in the halfway houses, I participated in AA, but it never clicked with me. I didn’t like the idea of doing what AA’s Big Book told me to do. Now I know why. That book isn’t my authority. The Bible is.”
“My faith was renewed the day I walked through the doors of Nashville Rescue Mission,” declared Jerry. “I didn’t want to come to the Mission. But I’m so glad I did. It changed my life. I was hopeless. But soon discovered that hope really does live here. It’s not in the building, but in the people. I met two of the most amazing people at the Mission—Ken Engle, a chaplain, and Bob Snodgrass, a case manager. They’re both reverends and I was drawn to them. They opened my eyes to the hope I found.”
After a few weeks of living at the Mission, Jerry decided to participate in the Guest Volunteer Program (GVP) where guests earn special privileges such as sleeping in the same bed every night, access to laundry services, and first in line for meals. In return, they volunteer to help with chores around the Mission.
“I enjoyed being a part of GVP,” said Jerry. “The Mission gave me a bed and three hot meals a day. It might not be what you want, but a lot of people have a lot less. In exchange, I helped out around the Mission. It made me feel like I wasn’t taking a hand out. Instead, I was giving back.”
Two months after coming to the Mission, Jerry started attending Trevecca Community Church. In April, he decided to make it his home church. A few months later, Jerry got hired to work in Guest Services at the Mission. He transitioned into the Pathways program which allowed him to work, save money, and make plans for permanent housing. A couple of months later, Jerry got approved for an apartment within walking distance of his church and a couple of miles from work. He moved into his new place in September and officially joined the church in November.
“Just when I thought things couldn’t get much better, God surprised me,” said Jerry. “In October, I received a message that my youngest daughter, Wendy, had contacted the Mission and wanted to talk to me. She’s in the Navy and based in San Diego. I haven’t spoken to her in over ten years. I’m still not exactly sure how she and my son located me, but I’m so glad they did. It was so good to talk to her.”
“I had lost contact with my children due to my days of drinking and doing drug. Yet God in His divine plan made a way for reconciliation to start taking place. On October 18th, my 69th birthday, my phone rang. I had no idea who was on the other end of the phone, until she said, ‘Dad, this is your daughter, Leslie Ann.’ It was also her birthday. She turned 51. I had not spoken to my oldest daughter since she was 16 years old. Now we talk all the time.”
“I’m 69 years old,” said Jerry. “Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine after all these years, so many amazing things would happen to me. I am blessed. I’m reminded that it’s never too late to make a brand new start. Thanks to Nashville Rescue Mission my life is better than I ever imagined.”
We recently received an email from a folk/pop singer songwriter from Brazil, living in Los Angeles. His name is Thiago Müller, and he wanted to show us a music video.
“My goal is to bring awareness to homelessness based on what I see everyday on the streets of Hollywood,” he wrote.
We watched. And tears welled up in our eyes. Thiago used his songwriting to visually and sonically capture what it’s like to be homeless and living on the streets. His storytelling is honest and powerful. It explores just how it feels to be passed by on the street, ignored, shamed — and that those in homes are not that different than those on the streets.
We can’t really do it justice though. You need to watch it for yourself!! Click below to watch it … and then, we encourage you to share it with your friends and family!