Grace Church of the Nazarene

Grace Church of the Nazarene

For members of this Sunday School class at Grace Church of the Nazarene, volunteering at Nashville Rescue Mission is a way to personally connect with hurting individuals–because after all, homelessness can happen to anyone.

Susan started volunteering at Nashville Rescue Mission because of her first-hand experience with the Mission’s Life Recovery Program. “After seeing the Mission’s program change my son’s life three years ago, I wanted to get involved and give back,” said Susan. She encouraged her fellow church members to volunteer with her and soon her entire Sunday School class got onboard. Susan realizes each individual she encounters is someone’s mother, brother, cousin, or son–like hers and that sparks an instant connection.

“Every time I walk in this building, I think about the help my son received while in the Mission’s program,” shared Susan. “I have so many wonderful memories here. I’m happy to say he graduated the program, then moved into the Mission’s transitional housing, before moving into his own place. Today he’s living in Nashville, and doing so well!

Bea, one of Susan’s dear friends, regularly joins her in the kitchen. Bea’s experience with homelessness hit pretty close to home. “My sister was once homeless. She didn’t live in Nashville, but whenever I’m volunteering at the Mission, I think about her. This person I’m serving a meal to could easily be like my sister, and is probably someone’s sister or brother. I make every effort to make eye with each person when they come through the line. I know they feel invisible when they are living on the streets. I want them to know, I see them and that they matter.”

Together, this Sunday School class made up of ten men and women serve lunch at the men’s campus once a month. They love to volunteer. For them, it’s all about creating a welcoming and personal community. They focus on listening to stories and developing friendships.

Margaret, a member of the class who also volunteers, feels a connection to the men and women who stay at the Mission and understands the need for the Gospel. “I was raised in a very poor household. I look at these men and women and think I could just have easily ended up here…homelessness is something that happen to anyone. I’m thankful the Mission shares the hope that comes from knowing Jesus to everyone who comes to them in need of help.” Margaret also loves how easy it is to volunteer. “The program is very organized, we are told exactly what to do and I’m always impressed with their high scores from the health department!”

“I like to work at the end of the counter,” she continued. “I try to connect with each person who comes through the line. Someone might look sad or grumpy, but when I say something nice to them, they light up! It makes my day and theirs.” Each of these volunteers has made friends while serving. Being surrounded by individuals with the same motivation to create a welcoming atmosphere makes it not only fun and rewarding, but exciting to offer service.

Volunteering is a great opportunity to help your neighbor in need, while also growing your own faith. Do YOU want to get involved? 

A Mother’s Day Megan Will Never Forget

A Mother’s Day Megan Will Never Forget

After years of drug abuse and marriage problems, followed by episodes of homelessness, and desperation, Megan will celebrate this Mother’s Day, clean, sober, safe, and with her four-year-old son Timmy.

“I married my high school sweetheart,” said Megan. “I thought we’d have kids and grow old together. But what I didn’t imagine was being eight months pregnant, living with a drug addict, and being robbed by someone pointing an AK-47 at me.

This was NOT the life Megan imagined.

After their son was born, Megan’s joy turned to depression when she discovered her husband’s unfaithfulness. She was devastated. She found herself sinking further and further away, resorting to prescription pills, meth, and crack cocaine to avoid feeling the pain. Her drug use escalated along with her husband’s.

“Things went from bad to worse. I let go of everything. My family tried to stage an intervention. Everyone wanted to help, but I was too blind to see it.” The life Megan had imagined crumbled before her eyes and she felt powerless to do anything about it.

“Looking back, there were times when DCS (Department of Children’s Services) could have taken Timmy away, but didn’t. His father received two charges of child endangerment but somehow our case slipped through the cracks. My poor son was practically raising himself.”

She soon found her and her family homeless and living in an abandoned barn. Living in such poor conditions, she got sick and wound up in the ER. It was at that point she decided it was time to detox. Nine days later, she relapsed and her husband left her.  “I felt like I didn’t have anything left to live for.

But she did. Megan had Timmy. And being Timmy’s mom was enough for her to cry out for help. “I started looking for a place to go, somewhere safe, somewhere I could try to figure out what to do now that the life I had hoped for shattered.”

MeganPeanutSmall

Megan’s search led her to Nashville Rescue Mission. “We spent two nights in the emergency shelter, when I met someone who had graduated from the Mission’s Life Recovery Program. Her story was similar to mine. She went through the program while raising her two-year-old daughter. I knew if this mom could survive what she’d been through, I could do it too, or at least try. Her story gave me hope.”

Today, Megan has hope for the future—both for her and for Timmy. “The Mission’s Life Recovery Program has given me a second chance. I’m getting to know my son. He’s the sweetest little boy in the world and I love him so much.”

Megan’s excitement in seeing the changes take place both within herself and with her son is obvious. “Timmy is experiencing structure and routine for the first time in his life. I missed so much of the first four years of his life because of drugs; I’m determined not to miss any more. I’m rebuilding the bonds of trust with my family. Nashville Rescue Mission gave me another chance. I’m thankful I found a place where I could get the help I desperately needed, while also learning how to be the best mom to Timmy I can be.”

It is through YOUR support lives like Megan and Timmy’s are forever changed. Your gifts make second chances possible. Thank you for giving!

 

 

Erica Gilmore

Erica Gilmore

I suppose no one was more surprised than me when I decided to run for a seat on the city council. My mom, Brenda Gilmore (member of Tennessee House of Representatives representing 54th district) has had a strong influence on me. I’ve watched her serve in public office for many years so serving is a way of life in our family. But I didn’t set out to be on the council.

After graduating from Whites Creek High School, I attended college in Washington DC.ErikaGilmore

When I moved back to Nashville after college, I made a conscious decision to live close to downtown. I found the cutest house, in the Hope Garden area, near the Farmer’s Market. I took great pride in purchasing my first house. But I’ll never forget my grandmother’s reaction when she came to visit—she started to cry. I remember asking her why she was sad, because I for one was extremely happy. Having grown up in Gallatin, my grandmother wasn’t comfortable in an urban setting. She was crying because she was concerned for my safety.

Where I saw potential and beauty in an area filled with diversity, my grandmother saw danger. Her reaction made an impression on me and from that point forward, I decided to get involved in my community so I could make a difference. I started with serving on my neighborhood association. I wanted my neighborhood to be a place where my grandmother wouldn’t be afraid.

Living in such close proximity to Nashville Rescue Mission’s campus for women and children, I encountered those struggling with homelessness on a regular basis in my neighborhood. As my concern for them grew, I found myself meeting with advocates for the homeless. This brought their humanity to light for me. I realized that I had a responsibility to them.

I also discovered the issue of homelessness was much bigger than just my neighborhood. This was an issue affecting our entire city. My experiences in serving my local neighborhood motivated me to get more involved and run for a seat on the council. I wanted to make a bigger impact. I saw my neighborhood and our city’s best days were still ahead. I wanted to improve the community and city I lived in because I believe deeply that we are a great city but we can be greater.

As a supporter and volunteer of Nashville Rescue Mission, I’ve seen this organization welcome over 60 years of helping the less fortunate in our community and undergo a beautification project with the help of many in our city to bring more beauty to our downtown area. The Mission does an awesome job with its resources especially when you consider they do not accept government funds.And while I wish there wasn’t such a huge need for the Mission’s services in Nashville, I am extremely grateful for the work they do and the people they help every day. Nashville Rescue Mission makes our city a better place.

 

Erica Gilmore represents the 19th district on the Metro Council, a seat she has held for eight years. The youngest woman on the council, Gilmore was elected speaker pro tem for the 2011-12 council year. Beyond her political aspirations, Gilmore taught for five years in Metro Schools and is an English adjunct professor at Fisk University and Nashville State Community College.