Spread The Love

Spread The Love

Lovingly known as “The Cookie Lady,” Kim Tuzzio’s ministry extends well beyond the 150-200 cookies she makes each week for the women and children to enjoy. “The first time I volunteered at the Mission, I read books to the children,” shared Kim. “The more I learned about the Mission and what they do to help homeless women and children, the more I wanted to get involved.” Kim’s desire to help bring a smile to the faces of people facing a very difficult situation started with cookies and has grown to include a monthly delivery of cupcakes to celebrate any birthdays.

“We love all our volunteers,” said Lauretta DeMille, food service manager at the Women’s Campus. “Kim is certainly an extra special one. Not only does she make cookies and cupcakes, but she also helps with our annual Mother’s Day Banquet where they prepare homemade chicken salad on croissants, with beautiful table linens, flower arrangements, and tea. It’s truly a blessing to each of our guests. The ladies love being pampered by Kim and her friends.”

Kim has shared her love for the ministry of the Mission with her co-workers. “Three years ago we started a Bible study where I work. As I’ve shared my experiences with the group, each has found their own way of participating. Some ladies will bring things to donate to the Mission, like food, clothes, and books. Others have decided to experience the Mission for themselves. Just this past Mother’s Day, several of the ladies decided to join me in helping with the luncheon. As Ms. Carolyn (the Director) shared her heart and spoke of the needs the women have, the ladies I brought were moved to tears. I think it’s hard for some people to grasp that there are so many homeless women and children in need living right here in Nashville.”

But Kim hasn’t stopped there. Living in an active community in Williamson County, Kim has shared her passion with neighbors and has become the community drop off point for donations to the Mission. “We have a strong Facebook group, and once I started sharing about the needs of the women and children, I was amazed by the number of people who were not familiar with the Women’s Campus. I’m also blown away by the generosity of my community. Whenever there is a need, they rise to the occasion to help meet it.”

“I never expected a volunteer experience to change me so much,” says Kim. “My faith has grown stronger. When you consider how many people live paycheck to paycheck, it’s easy to see that becoming homeless could happen to anyone.”

“I enjoy my job,” shares Kim. “But doing this … serving the women and children … this brings me JOY. I love hearing their stories and seeing God’s handiwork in their lives. Homeless or not, we are all God’s people. I serve because I want those who have fallen on hard times to know just how much God loves them.”

If you’d like to find out how one hour of your week can make a difference in the life of a child, visit: nashvillerescuemission.org/get-involved

MIMW- Deborah Varallo

MIMW- Deborah Varallo

Being raised in a family of thirteen children was more of a blessing than a burden. I’m sure we complained about not having as much as other kids but as I look back—all I remember is a lot of love and a lot of people! My parents were perfect examples of helping others. My oldest brother Tony was a volunteer extraordinaire. As a kid I assisted him with clothing drives, collecting food, and cleaning yards for the less fortunate. We did whatever was needed. It was never a chore; just a part of life. As teenagers, another older brother, Joe and I raised money for the Catholic Diocese of Nashville to support a medical and missionary trip to Haiti to help build a school and assist at a medical clinic. Joe and I, along with 30 other teenagers, enjoyed two summer trips to Haiti.

With twelve siblings, I can’t keep up with the enormous volunteer work each has given and continues to provide for worthwhile nonprofits in Tennessee and beyond. My husband, Jim, and I are strong supporters of our church, plus many nonprofits in Davidson and Wilson County.

The world, as you and I know it, could not operate without all the amazing individuals who volunteer their time, creativity, and financial support to worthwhile religious, service, and social organizations. My business was born from my volunteer work. While coordinating fundraisers for nonprofits, I assisted with the first Habitat for Humanity Women-Build in Nashville. I began doing “public relations” work before I knew what it was called. Enjoying this work so much, I left the company and started my own firm Varallo Public Relations.

With a talented staff, we provide assistance to nonprofits while also building a profitable business dedicated to the professional service industry. My sweet brother, Joe, who I admired tremendously because of his giving heart, was so dedicated to helping nonprofits. He was also an alcoholic and fought the battle most of his adult life. He eventually lost his job and his home. As much as we tried to help, Joe didn’t want our support. Fortunately Nashville Rescue Mission was there to help him. During the time Joe was at the Mission, we knew he was safe, had a warm bed, hot meals, and spiritual support. With their assistance, and by selling

The Contributor newspapers, Joe was able to afford a small place to live on his own. Joe didn’t win his battle with alcoholism, as he died in October 2014—but my siblings and I appreciate the fact that the Mission was there to help him when he needed it the most. Many worthwhile organizations need help, so I am very selective in the nonprofits I support. I chose to support the Mission because of how they helped my brother during a very fragile time in his life. I also support them because of the care, love, and support they provide to all who need help.

One day while at the Mission, a family arrived from Texas to see their son who they hadn’t seen in a year. We cried together as I explained to them he was in good hands. I cried privately, with appreciation, as I understood the kindness and discipline their son was receiving. He is most definitely in good hands.

A native Tennessean, Deb graduated from Baylor University in Texas. In 1991, she established her firm Varallo Public Relations in Nashville and works with various nonprofits, organizations, businesses, associations, and firms. She has been featured in the national press discussing her expertise; and her firm has won numerous trade honors.

He Still Performs Miracles

He Still Performs Miracles

I had stopped under the train trestle on 8th Avenue to rest. I remember seeing this piece of newspaper floating through the air and thinking … that’s me … tattered, worthless … old news.”

Sitting there, Ken was approached by a homeless man who told him he could get a meal at Nashville Rescue Mission … a short distance from where he was sitting. Maybe it was pride that kept Ken from leaping at the chance of a hot meal. Whatever it was, Ken had no idea his prayers were about to be answered.

“Growing up had more downs than ups,” shared Ken. “My parents were divorced. My younger sister and I bounced around with our mom, eventually moving to Minnesota. One day, my stepdad decided he didn’t want kids anymore. My mom took us to DHS and left us there. I was in the 6th grade. We spent time in foster care before our dad came to get us and moved us to West Virginia. I hated it and kept running away. One night he packed my stuff and put me on a bus back to Minnesota.”

It was summer and Ken was expected to work on the farm. His stepdad thought it would be cool to give him beer at lunch. Trouble was, Ken was 13, and after drinking, he struggled to work. This made his stepdad very angry.

Eventually, Ken went back into foster care where he would spend the next four years.

“I was 17 when I was placed with a single woman,” shared Ken. “I struggled with anger, and one night it scared her. She called the police. I had an altercation with the officer and landed in a juvenile detention center. Four months after I turned 18, I was released.”

Afterwards, Ken struggled with addiction and sought treatment. Three years had passed when Ken hitchhiked from Minnesota to Memphis … finding refuge with his dad once again. Ken settled down. He got married. Two years later his daughter was born, followed by a son soon thereafter. But after seven years the marriage ended.

“I was a horrible husband,” said Ken. “Thankfully we are good friends now, but it wasn’t that way for a long time.” After his divorce Ken could never seem to find a place to call home. He hitchhiked between Nashville, North Carolina, and Mississippi… his habit still going strong.

After not seeing his kids for a least a year, Ken was on his way back to Mississippi when he stopped in Nashville.

“As I watched that newspaper fly around I felt lost and lonely,” said Ken. “I had not spoken to anyone in a week and had not eaten in three days. The night before, I slept at Bicentennial Mall. I didn’t know how to pray, but I do remember saying, ‘God, if you’re real, I want to take a shower, lay in a bed one night, and eat something.’ I was so hungry, I finally swallowed my pride and made my way to the Mission.”

While in line, a chaplain asked Ken about his story. “I didn’t know what to say, but the next thing I knew I was in this room with a bed, a shower, and a sack lunch with 3 sandwiches.

Then it occurred to me … ‘This is exactly what I prayed for.’

God answered my prayer. It wasn’t how I had expected Him to answer it, but He did answer it.”

The year was 1998 and Nashville Rescue Mission had a program outside of Nashville called Mission Acres. Over the next four months Ken’s life changed dramatically—starting with accepting Christ into his heart. He developed a close friendship with Paul Rose, who managed Mission Acres.

“It was just before lights out, I was reading my Bible, when I heard my name over the intercom saying I had a phone call. I hadn’t told anyone where I was … and yet my daughter was on the phone saying, ‘Hi Daddy.’ I melted.

I had been praying every night for my children and to reconnect was a blessing and a miracle.




“Sadly, I messed up right away after finishing the Mission’s program,” said Ken. “I had moved back to Mississippi and was working construction. My second day on the job I was smoking pot with the guys. I wasn’t drinking, so I thought I would be okay. But within three months I was drinking all the time.”

Overcome with shame, Ken left. This time to Memphis. He slept in his van and worked day labor jobs until he had saved up enough money to pay for a room. Eventually he landed a good job and moved into a nice apartment. He stayed free of drugs and alcohol. Life was good.

“Then I learned my ex-wife had remarried. I have no idea why it bothered me so much. I didn’t leave my apartment for entire month … ordering pizza every night.

After 30 days I knew I would be evicted because I couldn’t pay the rent, so I left.”

Ken called Paul Rose. With Paul’s encouragement, Ken went back to Mission Acres eight months after completing the program. “I hadn’t touched drugs or alcohol in months … but my mind was messed up.

I stayed another eight months, and each time I would start to leave, Paul found an excuse to keep me there. Eventually, I accepted a position working at the Mission and started on April 1, 1999.”

Ken has spent the last 18 years serving men who much like himself, were once homeless, addicted, and alone. His progression from supervising the warehouse, to directing activities for the men, to scheduling work therapy at the

Men’s Campus, to his most recent promotion to Director of the Men’s Life Recovery Program speaks volumes to those he serves. Ken frequently refers to this as “nothing short of a miracle.” His passion for helping those in crisis is like the light that illuminates the city on the hill—offering hope to those in need. “I’ve been blessed to work at Nashville Rescue Mission for the past 18 years and have grown and experienced so much here.”

Over the years, Ken has still encountered his share of ups and downs, but having a relationship with Christ has made all the difference. “There are days when I can hardly believe where I am today. It is an honor and privilege to share the love of Christ with men who are standing where I once stood. If my testimony can give them a little hope, there’s no telling what God is going to do in their life. He still performs miracles every day.”

If you would like to help other men like Ken, you can give today at https://nashvillerescuemission.org/donations/ken/