Mission in My Words
I must admit, when asked about writing a story for the Mission, I was both flattered and humbled. I’m typically behind the camera, not in front of one. But I believe so strongly in the work the Mission does, I couldn’t say no.
My first experience with the Nashville Rescue Mission was as a videographer for NewsChannel 5. I went with one of our reporters to cover a story on the Tracy Lawrence Turkey Fry. There was a lot of excitement surrounding the event, as Tracy and his celebrity friends were frying turkeys for Nashville’s homeless. It made for a good story and almost every station in town showed up to cover the event.
I moved here in 1997, and over time I became more aware of the issue of homelessness in our city. I grew up in a small town where you didn’t really see a lot of homeless people. Not to say they weren’t there—you just didn’t see them. In Nashville, it’s much more noticeable.
I recall covering other stories related to the Mission. During the summer we would film them handing out bottles of cold water to the homeless as part of their “Hot Patrol.” During the winter we would film their “Cold Patrol” offering the homeless a cup of coffee and a ride back to the Mission on cold nights. I started to see just how much they were trying to do to help the homeless in our community.
Several years ago, one of the account managers at the station asked if I would help with a couple of commercials for the Mission, as well as a PSA (Public Service Announcement). The issue of homelessness has become near and dear to my heart, so it was easy to say yes. The first spot we created featured photos of homeless men, women and children in frames hanging under a bridge. I came up with the idea after thinking about the number of homeless you frequently see under a bridge. The good news is for those who come to the Mission, they are no longer under that bridge.
Soon after creating the first PSA I was invited to serve at the Mission. This experience was life altering. I invited several of the artists whose music was used in PSAs created for the Mission. All of us were completely blown away by the experience.
One of the things I love most about the Mission is they don’t stop serving people after meal time. They go deeper by giving guests more than just bread to eat…they serve them the “bread of life”—Jesus Christ. Guests receive water to quench their thirst, but the Mission shares “living water” with them as well. The Mission is in the business of changing lives.
Jerry Walker, Promotion Producer at WTVF NewsChannel 5, is an Emmy Award-winning writer, photographer and editor. He joined NewsChannel 5 as a News Photographer in 1997 and has spent the last 20 years working as a photojournalist. He’s received 10 Emmy Awards for his work, several were for PSAs created for the Mission.