Mission In My Words: Stu Grimson

Mission In My Words: Stu Grimson

I first became aware of Nashville Rescue Mission and its efforts to care for the homeless while playing for the Nashville Predators during the 2001-02 season. The team was and continues to be very involved with the Nashville community. In 2010, the Predators Foundation presented the Mission with a grant to help build a safe and secure playground for the children staying there. Today, they still continue to find ways to support the Mission.

After retiring from hockey, I finished my undergraduate degree and completed work on a law degree in 2005. My family and I love Nashville so much; we decided to make this our home. I spent several years in private law practice before returning to the game as an analyst for the Predators. When that ended last year, I took on a new role as corporate counsel for Van Meter Insurance, while also working part-time as an analyst for the NHL Network. Over the last year, I’ve become more familiar with the Mission, through volunteering and other projects.

I had somewhat of a superficial understanding of homelessness, but being involved with the Mission has put a name and a face to it. I’ve come to appreciate the Mission and the work they do in this community on a much deeper level.

Several months ago, Blake, a participant in the Mission’s Life Recovery Program, came to visit Van Meter and shared his testimony with us. At one time he was a successful businessman. But because of his addiction, he lost everything. Hearing him speak about his transformation changed my perspective on how to help. I’ve now had the opportunity to come alongside someone who is battling that life. I’ve seen how the affirmations he received from myself and everyone at Van Meter had a positive impact on his life. It’s humbling and astounding.

I recently had the chance to attend Blake’s graduation from the Mission’s program. It was incredible hearing each man share his story. That day represented a culmination of months and months of self-examination. It was apparent they each had rolled up their sleeves and done a lot of hard work changing their lives over the many months spent in the Mission’s program.

I’m grateful for Van Meter Insurance and appreciate the opportunity they give us to partner with organizations such as Nashville Rescue Mission. It’s a wonderful thing when we can extend our professional lives to make a difference in the community while doing our job to the best of our ability. It feels good to know what we’re doing is making a difference.

Stu played in the NHL from 1989 to 2002 and finished his professional hockey career with the Nashville Predators. Following his retirement, he went back to school, earned a law degree, and entered private practice for several years. Following a stint as a television analyst for the Predators, Stu returned to the business world as corporate counsel for Van Meter Insurance. He also works part-time as a hockey analyst for the NHL Network.

There’s More to Cooking Than Just Food

There’s More to Cooking Than Just Food

“I think everyone should know how to cook. Teaching a person how to cook quick, healthy meals—especially someone who lives in a community with limited food access—can empower them, and that in turn can open a door for them to lots of other things.”

Jilah moved to Nashville shortly after graduating from Savannah College of Art and Design in 1986. She raised two children and spent eight years homeschooling them, during which time she cooked three hot meals a day, seven days a week. “I was always cooking, and found many aspects of that to be challenging,” recalled Jilah. “I was constantly looking for ways to stretch my budget, make the most of my time, and utilize all my resources. And I believe I got quite good at it.”

After her kids left home for college, and Jilah entered a new stage of life, she started seeking opportunities to use her skills, passions, and talents to make a difference in her community and started teaching cooking classes at the Farmer’s Market. That’s when she came across Nashville Rescue Mission and wondered if those transitioning out of homelessness might benefit from these same types of cooking classes.

“When I called the Mission, they told me about their Life Recovery Program, and how many of the graduates move into transitional housing before eventually moving into places of their own. They were exactly the people I wanted to help and knew I could help.”

Over the last several months, Jilah has created a unique community cooking experience for the women.

“These classes bring people from all walks of life together. In addition to the women living in transitional housing, I invite my interns to join us. It’s more than enjoying a meal together. The women learn to cook, which builds their confidence. They interact with one another, which builds community.”

Instead of just telling the women how to cook, Jilah sets up stations, for testing, tasting, and allows each person to get their hands dirty and be a part of preparing the meal. “I try to engage all their senses—sight, smell, taste, and touch. It has a profound impact on them remembering what they’ve learned. Once a woman discovers all the different things she can do, say with a can of beans, she is empowered, which can affect the choices and decisions she makes throughout the rest of her life.”

“I teach the women to read labels and choose whole ingredients. You’d be amazed at what you can do in 20 minutes. You can make soup, a Mexican dish, or lots of other things. It’s much healthier than eating something off a dollar menu or microwave meals. I also show them how to make the most of their time and budget by cooking one-pan meals or making extra for multiple meals.”

While Jilah may not be able to solve the issue of food accessibility, she can teach women who are starting over how to cook. In that, she sees a creative outlet and one that is empowering.

“Volunteering to teach these women has been such a blessing to me,” shared Jilah. “It’s been a joy to see their confidence build through learning new things. It’s also been a wonderful experience to sit down and enjoy the ‘fruits’ of our labor.”

The Mission is so grateful to Jilah and all the volunteers who partner with us by using their unique skills, passions, and talents to bless our guests and program participants.

If you’d like more information on how you can get involved and share your gifts with those in need, click here.

Redeemed By Grace

Redeemed By Grace

“I woke to the smell of burning rubber and the sound of my daughter screaming, ‘Mommy, mommy!’ Everything was blurry, but I remember hearing my two and a half-year-old saying, ‘Mommy it’s okay.’ One look at her, and I broke down.”

“We were upside down. My car had flipped at least 12 times. With her head swollen on one side and her eye shut, I was sure she had a brain injury. They took her to Vanderbilt, and me to jail. I cried out to a God I had never known, to please let my baby be all right. By the grace of God, she was okay. At that point I knew something had to change, I had to change. My life was a wreck, and at the rate I was going, I would be dead, or worse, I would hurt someone else because of my irresponsible actions. That’s when I found Nashville Rescue Mission.”

The road to the Mission wasn’t an easy one for Barbara. 

“I met Makayla’s dad in 2006,” shared Barbara. “Drinking, smoking, taking pills, and partying was the foundation for of our toxic relationship.” Two years later, Barbara was pregnant. That same year, she and her boyfriend were both indicted for selling drugs. “You would think being sober for nine months, having a baby, and being a convicted drug felon on probation would be a good time to turn your life around,” said Barbara. “But no. I celebrated the night I got home from the hospital with a quart of moonshine and a bottle of pain pills. I spent the next couple of years in and out of jail for fighting and public intoxication. I lost my friends, my job, and in 2011, my mom.”

The next six months she was lost in her addiction. On the day that would change everything— Barbara spent it drinking and getting high. The last thing she remembers was buckling her daughter into her car seat. Then the smell of burning rubber. And Makayla’s cries.

“The state trooper that arrested me said I would never see my daughter again,” said Barbara. “I spent the next few months awaiting trial, facing multiple felonies that could mean years behind bars. I started to believe what he said would come true. The odds were all stacked against me. But it is by God’s grace I received mercy—one year in prison and seven years probation.” Upon her release, Barbara entered the Mission’s Life Recovery Program.

“It was my first week at the Mission when I encountered the Holy Spirit in a way I can hardly explain,” shared Barbara. “I was sitting in the chapel when a song came on. The words, ‘I need you Jesus, to come to my rescue, where else can I go,’ filled the air. In that very moment, I completely surrendered my heart and found Jesus.”

Over the next seven months, she studied the Bible, received one-on-one and group counseling, participated in work therapy, and attended classes on anger, addiction, recovery, parenting, finances, and more. She learned how to live life free from addiction and in complete surrender to the Lord.


“After I graduated, I was offered a job at the Mission and was ecstatic! I started working and moved into the Mission’s transitional housing. God was working in my life in ways I never knew possible. It took time and a lot of hard work, but I regained custody of my daughter Makayla. The Mission was so helpful and prayerful in supporting me in this incredible effort. I am ever so grateful, but mostly to God.”

Barbara was able to get her driver’s license back, purchase a vehicle, and pay off thousands of dollars in restitution and court fines.

“God restored so much to me that was lost and blessed me with so much more than I could imagine. In 2014, I met a man who changed my life in a way that I knew could only be destined from God. We married, and I inherited two beautiful stepdaughters. Our family continued to grow, and we were blessed with another sweet baby girl. Yes, we have four girls now.”

Barbara’s faith rooted in Christ has provided her with the firm foundation she needed to make it through the ups and downs she’s encountered since graduating the program, getting married, changing jobs, having a baby, buying a home, and going back to school.

“I am thankful to God for my wonderful husband and our sweet girls who are my heart and greatest blessings. I am also extremely grateful to Nashville Rescue Mission for helping be the light that led me to Jesus. The Mission will forever hold a special place in my heart.”

If you would like to help support women like Barbara, you can give here.