Practice Makes Perfect

Practice Makes Perfect

“I spent 30 years working as an editor of a sports magazine—Not giving anything back, and certainly not giving enough. I decided I needed to do something, not for myself, but to help others.’”

 

I Had No Idea!

Charlie started his career as an editorial assistant working for Athlon Sports where he gave nearly 30 years of his life serving in various roles, most recently as the Editorial Director. He has lived most of his adult life in Nashville and was very familiar with Nashville Rescue Mission, despite never having volunteered. “I worked long hours. It was easy to say I didn’t have time. Three years ago, when that job went away—things changed. I decided it was time to start giving back.”

A visit to the Mission’s website led to Charlie taking the “I Had No Idea” tour of the Mission. “Before the tour, I only thought of the Mission regarding meals and a place for homeless men to sleep. I had no idea all the things that were happening behind their doors.”

 

Getting Involved

“In looking at all the opportunities to volunteer, I could see there was a greater need during the breakfast shift, so I decided to start there. I did that regularly for four months.”

As Charlie learned more and more about the Mission and the other opportunities to volunteer, he took a keen interest in the education department. “I started volunteering two days a week, tutoring and teaching men studying for the HSE exam, specifically in math, but also some creative writing.”

While many of the men may not see the value in an education, Charlie has made it his mission to show them the practical, real-life application math has in today’s world. “When it comes to money, decimals matter. It can be the difference between 96 cents, $9.60, or $960. If you use a tape measure in your job, like a plumber, electrician, or construction worker might do, then you will need to know fractions. And if getting paid a commission is part of your job, you’ll be glad you understand how percentages work.”

 

Practice. Practice. Practice.

“Volunteering at the Mission is the highlight of my week,” said Charlie. “I’ve seen many men walk into the class saying, ‘I can’t do this. It’s too hard.’ But I have faith. I know if we can just wake up their brain, they can and will get it. I’ve seen it happen over and over.”

Frequently using sports analogies to keep the men engaged, Charlie asks the question, “If you want to be a great free throw shooter, what do you have to do? Practice. The same is true of math. Practice. The more you do it, the better you get at it. Repetition is essential. It’s true for reading, writing, and many other things in life— you practice to get better at it.”

 


 

The Mission is grateful for Charlie and many other volunteers who use their skills, time, and talents to help those in need.

See how you too can get involved in changing lives.

 

Mission in My Words: Dr. Todd Jones

Mission in My Words: Dr. Todd Jones

I have known of the wonderful work of Nashville Rescue Mission since moving to Nashville in 2002, to serve as the Pastor of First Presbyterian Church. Our church is committed to ministries that serve the poor and the homeless, and we have supported the Mission for decades. One of my first experiences with the Mission was offering the opening prayer at an anniversary banquet. As I listened to the stories told that evening, by the people who work at the Mission, and the men and women they assist, I sensed that night, and many times since, an organization with a clear mission to help the homeless of Nashville and to offer people at the margins of our city a lifeline.

This lifeline begins and ends with a focus on the dignity of each person, and a commitment to share the Good News of God’s love. This takes the form of things tangible, from a warm, safe place to stay, and a nourishing meal, to programs that offer hope and skills, and a new life to people who find themselves in dire circumstances.

There are signs of growing prosperity everywhere in Nashville, and with it, the challenges it brings. Some of those problems remain homelessness, poverty, mental health issues, and alcohol and substance abuse issues. Nashville Rescue Mission is an organization that seeks to address the crying needs of this population. As our city prospers, we do well to continue to ask questions about the heart and soul of our community.

Swiss theologian Karl Barth reminded us that societies are judged by how they treat the very young, the very old, and the poor. Nashville has been a city with a soul, that is to say, a city, for all its faults, seeks to be a humane and humanizing place to live. We are a city known for world-class health care and a commitment to music, one of the sublime and humanizing influences upon the human family. We are also called to be a city that cares about poverty, homelessness, family violence, and mental health.

Nashville Rescue Mission is one organization we can point to in seeking to define the heart and soul of our city, in that they are deeply committed to those who suffer at the boundaries of our community. Jesus said, “As you did it unto the least of these, so you did it unto me.” The Mission is a place that seeks to honor the dignity of the poor, the homeless, the sick, and the overlooked in our midst. As such, I can’t think of a more important organization to support!


Todd Jones came to serve as Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Nashville in March 2002. Originally from Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, Todd graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1979. Before coming to Nashville, he served at three congregations and today has nearly 40 years in ministry. Todd and his wife Connie, a Nashville native, have four children and four grandchildren.

Learning to Trust God

Learning to Trust God

“I went from being a stay-at-home mom to a full-blown addict, homeless, addicted to meth—and asking myself, ‘How did I get here?’”

 

Growing Up Too Fast

“I missed having a childhood. I often took care of my mom because she was drunk. I also battled headaches, anxiety, and depression.”

“My boyfriend and I got married at the courthouse when I was 18,” said Sonia. “Our daughter Chelsea was born right before my 19th birthday. Four years later, our daughter Lyndsay was born. I thought life was good.”

 

Tragedy Strikes

But a series of tragic events led Sonia down a dark path. Her grandfather murdered her grandmother, and then tried to kill himself. Her mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. And when Sonia discovered her husband was having an affair—that was the last straw.

“Suddenly I became a single mom with two girls. I was empty, depressed, and contemplated suicide. I didn’t know how to pick up the pieces and I ended up jumping right back into another relationship.”

Three months later Sonia was pregnant. They quickly got married. Between his son, her two daughters, and Peyton, their new baby girl, Sonia’s family doubled. With increasing stress, Sonia relied more and more on the pain pills the doctor had prescribed for her debilitating headaches to numb her feelings of sadness and bitterness.

 

Addiction Takes Over

“I realized I had become a full-blown addict when my doctor got arrested, and I could no longer get my meds,” said Sonia. “Until then, I had hidden my drug use. But after my mom died, I couldn’t hold it together. I started using meth, and things went from bad to worse.”

“The next several years are a fog. I thought my kids would be better off without me. I didn’t have a job. I had nowhere to live. I wanted to die. I missed seeing Chelsea graduate high school, but I was there when she got married. When she told me she was pregnant, I was still in the midst of my mess. All it took was feeling my grandson kick for the first time. I knew then I had to get help.”

 

Crying Out to God

“I never really had a relationship with God,” said Sonia. “But in rehab, every time a church bus pulled up, I was on it.” And when I finished rehab, my counselor suggested I get into a long-term program. She told me about Nashville Rescue Mission.”

“I had no idea where I was going or what I was going to do when I got there. I just knew I was believing God for a miracle because I desperately needed one. When I got to the Mission, I was welcomed with open arms. I knew then I was right where I was supposed to be.”

“In the program, I learned how to have a relationship with God and how to build relationships with other people,” said Sonia. “I learned how to communicate, and how to put my trust in Him. He transformed me.”

 

Restoration is Possible

Today, Sonia is quick to share how the Lord has restored and blessed her. “I read the Bible … not because someone is making me, but because I want to know Him more. God has shown me that He is real and He is at work in my life. I want everyone to know it—especially my kids.”

“I have two precious grandsons. I’ve grown closer to my three girls. We regularly attend church together. I never imagined when I walked through the doors of the Mission that my life could be so dramatically different. I’m grateful.”

Today, Sonia helps others do what she once considered impossible—recover. Sonia oversees the admission process of women to the Mission’s Life Recovery Program.

“I can relate to the women who call looking for help. Many of them have given up. But I tell them there is something worth living for, and life can be different. They just need to trust God and believe in His promises. I’m living proof.” 


 

Sonia is just one of many women who have found help and hope at Nashville Rescue Mission. Your gift today will help us serve even more.

With your help, these women can overcome their past and walk into a brand new future.

 

 

Lelan Statom: Mission In My Words

Lelan Statom: Mission In My Words

I’ve considered myself a part of the Mission’s family for almost 20 years. It started with a partnership between the Mission and NewsChannel 5 and has evolved beyond the scope of what I do at work. Serving at the Mission is something my wife Yolanda and I look forward to doing together with our children.

The first year I brought my family, my daughter Kayela, who was around ten at the time, kept asking about the people we were serving. She wanted to know why they were at the Mission and not at home. As a father, it was a valuable teaching moment for me. I explained some of the reasons people are homeless and how the Mission helps them get back on their feet. Today, she and my son Taylor both look forward to volunteering at the Mission.

As a meteorologist, I spend a lot of time studying the weather. One thing many people don’t realize is there are more heat-related deaths than there are any other weather-related deaths. In Nashville, this is definitely of concern to our homeless community. It’s not uncommon for temperatures in the summer to reach into the 90s for days at a time. It was only a few years ago we had an all-time high of 107. On hot days, if someone is homeless and not in a sheltered environment, they probably aren’t properly hydrated. If their health is compromised, they aren’t going to listen to the cues their body is giving them—ignoring their thirst. It’s a good chance this person is dehydrated and at a great risk for heat stroke.

I’m thankful Nashville Rescue Mission exists in our community. They are out on the streets during these hot days handing out bottles of water to those in need, doing what they can to help the homeless stay hydrated. I can only imagine what Nashville would be like if the Mission didn’t exist. I think we’d see a much bigger crisis than there is already. There would be many more people with no place to go.

I don’t know what brings a person to the point of seeking help at the Mission. But I know regardless of the situation or circumstance, the Mission extends hope and a helping hand to those in need. It’s why I support Nashville Rescue Mission and look forward to volunteering my time there.


Lelan A. Statom is the Senior Meteorologist for the NewsChannel 5 Network. The Emmy award-winning weather anchor has been helping families in Middle Tennessee start their day since 1999 as part of the station’s #1 rated morning newscast, NewsChannel 5 This Morning. He’s been co-host of Talk of the Town since 2006.

Everyone Has Something To Give

Everyone Has Something To Give

When the kids from Cora Howe Exceptional School arrive at Nashville Rescue Mission each Wednesday morning, there are plenty of smiles to go around.

“The kids are always so excited when they get off the bus and walk through the doors of the Mission,” said Joy Ferguson, Director of Volunteer Services for the Mission. “And the warehouse staff looks forward to their arrival each week, knowing they will help sort canned goods, toiletries, linens, or whatever else has recently been donated. These kids have a sweet, sweet spirit that is contagious.”

Ninety-eight percent of students at Cora Howe School have disabilities. “The school is meant to prepare students with various abilities for life outside the school system,” said principal K.C. Winfrey.

“Every student at Cora Howe receives an individualized education and has a unique learning plan,” said Daniel Craig, Special Education Resource Teacher. “We are a K-12 special day school that serves about 100 students, each having a very specific set of needs. The ultimate goal for each student is independence to the greatest extent possible and to be a contributing member of society.”

With that in mind, Daniel has spent the last four years creating a program for his students, some who are autistic, schizophrenic, or mentally-challenged, to prepare them for their future. “While we spend Tuesday in the classroom, the rest of the week, the students are working in and around the community learning life skills, like how to sort canned goods or clothes; and social skills, like how to greet someone.”

“I’m so thankful for this special opportunity the Mission has given us to bring our kids there where they can serve, grow, and learn,” said Daniel. “It might not seem like much, but they are developing invaluable skills that many of them will continue to use throughout their lives.”

When the kids aren’t volunteering at Nashville Rescue Mission, they may be found serving at the Northeast YMCA (where many have learned how to swim), Hendersonville Strike & Spare (where the kids have also learned to bowl), or even the Apple Store. Each unique job site is helping the kids develop skills that will allow them to grow and succeed in life.

“The consistency that comes from serving, especially at the Mission every week, is extremely beneficial to our students,” shared Daniel. “For many of them, this is their training ground for future endeavors. I’ve seen tremendous improvement in several of the kids who’ve been coming since that first day. When I hear their parents talk about how proud they are of volunteering at the Mission, and how proud that makes the parents, it is such a blessing.”

The stigma associated with those who suffer from autism, schizophrenia, and a mental disability isn’t too different from the stereotype associated with those struggling with homelessness and addiction. In many cases, society casts these individuals aside, discriminates against them, devalues them, and rejects them. But just as the homeless and addicted are welcomed at Nashville Rescue Mission, those students with special needs find love and acceptance at Cora Howe Exceptional School. In both settings, there is hope for a brighter future.

“We accept kids as they are, regardless of their differences,” said Daniel. “And we grow them into young people who are ready and prepared for the world. In a word, much like Nashville Rescue Mission, we offer them hope.”


The Mission is so grateful to Daniel Craig, K.C. Winfrey, and everyone at Cora Howe School for joining us in giving hope to those in need.

Heat Takes a Toll on The Homeless

Heat Takes a Toll on The Homeless

Last summer, Nashville saw a near-record number of 90+ degree-days. In fact, between June 1 and August 30 the day’s high hit 90 or above for a total of 45 days, and in many cases, the heat index hit triple digits.

Hot weather can be hard to handle even under the best circumstances, but what would it be like to live without the luxuries most people enjoy during the summer such as air conditioning, daily showers, or even a change of clothes? The challenges faced by the city’s homeless population during periods of intense heat are similar to the challenges faced by everyone else. The most apparent difference is in access to amenities, including air conditioning and drinking water.

“Most of us can go into an air-conditioned building, or get into an air-conditioned car anytime we want to,” said Rev. Glenn Cranfield, president and CEO of Nashville Rescue Mission. “We have water in the refrigerator or can stop at any convenience market and pick some up. That simply isn’t the case for most of our homeless neighbors.”

That can be debilitating for much of the area’s homeless population, he said, especially when showers are hard to come by, there’s a lack of public drinking fountains, and many businesses shun the homeless.

“Many of those experiencing homelessness are already at a greater risk for major medical issues,” said Cranfield. “These men, women, and children deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion, regardless of whether their situation may be attributed to mental health issues or addiction. As we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, the Mission is doing what we can to help the homeless stay safe during hot weather. In addition to handing out bottled water and keeping an eye out for medical emergencies, our doors are open to everyone, especially during periods of extreme heat.”

“Our dayrooms are air-conditioned, and have ample seating,” said Cranfield. “Guests can come in, get out of the heat for as long as they need to, and have access to cold bottled water. We want to help keep people well hydrated and off of the hot streets.” “No one should die on the streets of Nashville due to the heat or lack of water,” he added. “We don’t ever close. Even if someone has been barred from our facility for previous infractions, we remove those restrictions when the temperatures are dangerously high.”

For someone like Joe who’s been homeless for years, the Mission provides a refuge from the heat a reprieve from the streets. When Joe’s wife died from stage 4-kidney cancer in 2015, he thought his life was over, too. After 18 1/2 years of marriage, he had lost his wife, his best friend, his soul mate.

He has no memory of jumping off the bridge and shattering the bones in his legs and feet. “I spent two months in the ICU,” said Joe. “Then another nine months in a nursing home.” After being released from the hospital, he had nowhere to go and no one to turn to.

Since the accident, Joe struggles to walk, especially long distances. He mostly uses a wheelchair to get around. Unable to work, Joe is going through the process of getting on disability.

“I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t come to the Mission,” said Joe. “I know from experience it can be dangerous living on the streets. The Mission has provided me with a safe place to sleep, and all my basic needs are being met. I couldn’t ask for more. I’m grateful.”

It’s because of YOU and your support that Joe and many others like him have a safe place to turn to when temperatures rise. Here they will find help in the form of water, shelter, clothing, and food—but more importantly, they will find hope in Jesus Christ.

 


If you would like to help others like Joe, click here.