Over the past 14 years, I’ve had numerous opportunities to serve the homeless in our community through WSMV News4’s relationship with Nashville Rescue Mission. I’ll never forget the first time I served meals at their Thanksgiving Banquet. From the moment the door opened, the procession of people didn’t stop for two hours. One fellow Nashvillian after another shuffled by to receive their dinner. I got my first glimpse into the enormity of the issue of homelessness in Nashville.
One walked by wearing the ball cap of my favorite team. We connected instantly. Another approached and greeted me before I had a chance to say hello and welcome him. So many others had a sparkle in their eyes and wore joy-filled, heartwarming smiles, despite their circumstances. They enriched MY Thanksgiving … but I was there to do that for them. As I considered this same scene playing out across our country at that very moment, my life was changed forever.
The work the Mission is doing matters so much.
Most of us have faced extraordinarily difficult situations. I know I have. I’ve heard it said, we are either going into a storm, in the middle of a storm, or coming out of a storm. Like the Footprints in the Sand poem, sometimes when we feel alone, God is right there carrying us.
It is my experience God will often work through other people and organizations like the Mission to carry somebody in their time of need.
As summertime in Nashville brings hot weather and oppressive humidity, I’d like to note that the National Weather Service shared that heat was the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S. and its territories for 2018. It was also the leading cause of death when considering the ten-year and 30-year averages. Middle Tennessee’s summer weather puts a person experiencing homelessness at a considerable disadvantage. With many of them already suffering from health issues, the added risk of heatstroke or dehydration can be deadly. When it’s hot and humid, the impact on the body can be more severe than when it’s cold. If your body can’t cool down, it will start to shut down.
I admire the work the Mission is doing to care for the homeless in our community. Their effort to support those in need with meals and so much more, like cold water when it’s hot and programs that lead to life change, is much needed and greatly appreciated.