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Mission In My Words: First Lady Maria Lee

I believe there is a desire in us all to serve others. Whether it’s calling to check on an elderly neighbor, picking up groceries for a sick friend, or starting a meal train, we all know how to serve someone close to us. It’s knowing how to serve a stranger where most of us get stuck. It’s easy to get caught up in everyday life and forget to do a pulsecheck on those hurting around us. It’s easy to wake up, go about our day, and never once think about the homeless person at the end of the exit ramp.

The truth is there is always someone within our reach who we can help. What if we stepped outside of everyday life and served them? What if we stepped outside of everyday life and stopped for the one right in front of us? Imagine the impact. That’s the idea that brought Nashville’s first homeless shelter into existence.


I believe there is a desire in us all to serve others.


My team had the privilege of serving lunch at the Women’s Campus this past January. It was an afternoon filled with laughter and fellowship—and most importantly—hope. The staff ’s dedication to restoring hope lost in the women they serve is tangible. Some of the staff, having gone through the Mission’s program themselves, now stand as beacons of hope to the ones currently enrolled. They serve as shining examples of the life available to those who commit to restoration.

As first lady, I have made it my mission to inspire Tennesseans to care for one another through acts of service with my initiative, Tennessee Serves. In traveling the state, I’ve seen firsthand how real change happens when neighbors help neighbors. My team and I work alongside nonprofits to participate in service projects tailored to the unique needs of each community. We also highlight nonprofits and service organizations across the state so others will see their great work and get involved.

It is our goal for Tennessee Serves to act as a mobilization mechanism and increase volunteer efforts across the Volunteer State. Much like the desire to serve the hurting and homeless of Nashville brought the Mission into existence, it is our hope that Tennessee Serves will spark a desire in citizens to be proactive in meeting the needs of their neighbors.

The work of nonprofits is essential to the well-being of our inner cities and rural communities, but their success is not possible without people like you. Let us continue in the volunteer spirit and support efforts like Nashville Rescue Mission, because their impact can change the trajectory of not just one life, but entire communities.

Maria Lee is the wife of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. Prior to becoming first lady, Maria taught school for 14 years. She and Bill are active members of Grace Chapel Church and are involved in numerous faith-based ministries that have taken them all over the world serving those in need. As first lady, Maria hopes to inspire Tennesseans to live lives devoted to service through her initiative, Tennessee Serves.

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