“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.”
“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.”