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Judge Melissa Blackburn

Growing up in Nashville, I’ve always been familiar with Nashville Rescue Mission. I especially enjoy serving meals during Easter and Thanksgiving. I think that’s because during the holidays, women, and children from the Mission’s other campus are brought over and everyone is served together. So many times I think we forget there are so many homeless women and children in our community.

There are many reasons at the root of homelessness. Many are homeless because they’ve fallen on hard times, losing their job, their home. Others may be homeless because their families can no longer deal with the pressures brought about by their mental illness. Regardless of the Judge_Blackburnwhy, I believe it is incumbent upon us to do whatever we can, as individuals, to make sure those in need are safe, healthy, clothed, and supervised. It is our duty for the good of mankind.

Prior to my election, I focused on employment law, standing up for employees facing discrimination and unfair wage practices. I have also been a strong advocate for children, especially those who have suffered the horror of sexual abuse. I decided to run for judge, specifically Division II General Sessions Court, because in overseeing the Mental Health and Veterans Court, I knew it was my best opportunity to positively impact the lives of fellow Nashvillians. The men and women I see in Mental Health Court are dealing with the issues resulting from their challenges, but also with the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Partnerships with the Mission help the court to address these situations. I’m not afraid of hard work. I knew this court would require it. It would also require someone with compassion for the hurting, homeless, mentally ill, and addicted. As a champion for the underdog, this is an area where I felt strong.

The toll mental illness can take on a family can be overwhelming. I know firsthand because my daughter lost her life as a result of her struggle. Since her passing, my commitment to help others dealing with mental health challenges has guided my work.

I see people who are arrested 50 or more times per year, who are trapped in a cycle of arrest, incarceration, release, and relapse. We, as a caring community, are charged with helping them get off the gerbil wheel. The best way to do that is to use available and existing resources to provide a structure that gives the mentally challenged a more stable environment to overcome their circumstances and have an opportunity to lead a healthy and productive lifestyle.

Nashville Rescue Mission is already providing resources and structure to those in need. In my court, I encounter many who have spent time at the Mission. I’m also happy to recommend the Mission to those in my court, when it makes sense.

It’s important for all of the agencies, state and local providers, and community-supported organizations such as the Mission to work together. In doing so, we make Nashville a better place to live, work, and raise families. Our work gives the people we serve a chance for a better life. That is why we are all committed to this effort. I’m proud to work with Nashville Rescue Mission in partnership for a better community.
A Nashville native, Judge Blackburn is a graduate of David Lipscomb High School, Lipscomb University, and Nashville School of Law. She was elected to serve as Judge of the Division II General Sessions Court in 2014. She and her husband, Nashville Attorney Gary Blackburn, have raised four children in our community.

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