Over the past eight years, one of my favorite experiences as Mayor has been serving Thanksgiving meals at Nashville Rescue Mission. I always enjoy the “Great Thanksgiving Banquet” and the chance to support such an important institution as the Rescue Mission. The Mission delivers hope for so many who have experienced hopelessness.
I’ve been proud to support the Mission and pleased to see it grow and change as the city of Nashville grows and changes, too. Last year, I told you I’m “thankful that our world-class city has a world-class organization like Nashville Rescue Mission,” and I continue to believe that. The Mission provides critical services for the homeless and the hopeless where government cannot.
The author Pearl S. Buck said, “To eat bread without hope is still slowly to starve to death,” and I think that sums up the guiding principles of the Mission’s work as well. Though it serves countless hot meals, provides safe and clean shelter night after night, and tends to the needs of hundreds of Nashvillians daily, what the Mission truly delivers is hope: hope for employment and self-sufficiency; hope for a way out of crippling addiction or criminal activity; hope for a brighter tomorrow.
It takes hope for a person to want to work to overcome the obstacles in his or her life. It also sometimes takes help—with overcoming an addiction, with finding a job or with knowing where to start—to translate that hope into action. Through its programs and ministry, the Mission provides tools that will help homeless Nashvillians change their lives for the better. But these transformations are not easy, and it takes hope and a guiding hand to achieve success.
I often say that Nashville’s best days are still ahead of us, and I believe that about the Mission as well. The Mission is a leader in Nashville’s network of organizations that serve the homeless, and I’m pleased they are participating in such innovative efforts as How’s Nashville and the Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.
I’d like to thank the staff and volunteers of the Mission for allowing me to join you these past eight years. I’ve been pleased to stand with you as you work tirelessly to restore hope and help Nashville’s homeless citizens transform their lives for the better.
Karl Dean was the sixth Mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County and completed his second term in office in September 2015.