A Homeless Hero

A Homeless Hero

“If it wasn’t for the Mission, I’d be out on the street. I’m 68. I’m retired. There is no work—I’m just looking for place I can call home and rest.”

When John stepped back onto American soil in the late 70s, it wasn’t the end of his battle. For John, and other veterans like him, it was only the beginning.

“I dropped out of high school. Then in 1968, I joined the Marine Corp.”

After the Marines, John found himself bouncing around. Without a high school diploma, he struggled to find steady work. “I became a jack-of-all-trades,” shared John. “But I passed the exemption exam at a technical college in California, where I managed to get a college degree.”

Many years ago, a friend from the military suggested John move to Nashville. “I’ve got medical problems and am in and out of the VA Hospital,” said John. So he moved to the same apartment complex where his friend lived outside of Nashville.

“I was making trips back and forth to the VA Hospital when they discovered I had cancer,” recalled John. “I was able to get the help I needed, but my friend didn’t.” Unfortunately, his friend, who also had cancer, didn’t find out until it was too late. “He died in 2009. Even after he passed away, I stayed in that same apartment complex. When new owners came in, they wanted to raise the rent. I was under an old contract but they managed to find a legal loophole and have me evicted.”

On a fixed income, finding a new apartment at a price he could afford proved to be impossible, especially after facing an eviction. “I couldn’t find anywhere else to go for the amount of rent I was paying.” With little to no options, John was homeless. A battle for stability in housing, finances, health, and support systems can all too easily end in homelessness for someone like John. Sadly, his situation isn’t that uncommon.

 

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Staying at Nashville Rescue Mission has kept me out of the elements and put something to eat in my stomach,” said John. “Now the hard part is getting into an apartment. I know once I get into my own place things can get back to normal.”

Finding an apartment in John’s situation is no easy task. “I got a list of places that might work. But many of them are so far away, without a vehicle, it’s difficult to get there. Other places require money. You practically have to buy an application. I’ve cut my budget down to the bare minimum, which is not living. It’s just surviving.”

After a 10-month-stay at Nashville Rescue Mission, John found a place to call home and today, he is finally able to enjoy a time of rest.

Nashville Rescue Mission exists to give John, and others like him, help and hope. In his time of need, John had a safe place to sleep, hot, nutritious food to eat, and case management to help him formulate a plan and evaluate his options. While a guest at the Mission, John saved money and was able to research apartments that would work within his budget and meet his needs.

With your support, John and other veterans like him, can find help and hope when they walk through the doors of Nashville Rescue Mission. Please give today.

 

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Stepping Up to the Plate

Stepping Up to the Plate

Dale Burdick always wanted to be a baseball star. He grew up in sunny Florida and moved to Nashville when he was just eight-years-old. Like most baseball players, he dreamed of graduating high school, playing baseball in college, and then heading to the major leagues. Little did he know his reality would be even greater than he had imagined.

When his senior year of high school came around, Dale was making plans to head to Mississippi State and play baseball. But then he was drafted—drafted by the New York Mets, straight out of high school.

As a result, he spent his summer training with a baseball league that urges its players to participate in and actively seek out community service opportunities. When he arrived back in Nashville, he wanted to do more. Helping others had struck a chord in his heart, and he wanted to make an impact in his own city. Dale recruited his mom and together they decided to serve lunch at Nashville Rescue Mission.

 

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“My family and I would see homeless individuals on the street, and feel that sympathy, but not know the best way to help.”

“Go once to serve at the Mission and you’ll immediately want to go back,” Dale said. “It’s such a positive environment. Everyone working in the kitchen was upbeat and excited. I got excited and couldn’t wait to go back. I took time to look into the eyes of the men I was serving. It broke my heart, but it was also heartwarming because I could see hope in their eyes.

Dale volunteered each week during his off-season, until it was time to head to Florida for Spring Training. “It’s a very well-oiled machine,” he said of the volunteering and serving process. “While we are serving lunch to the men, the staff is preparing the dinner meal.”

Serving consistently has given Dale the opportunity to create and develop personal connections with the men who come through the line, especially those in the Mission’s Life Recovery Program.

“One of the guys I had the pleasure of getting to know had just graduated from the Mission’s Life Recovery Program. He walked in to the kitchen decked out in a three piece suit with a top hat. He was on his way to a job interview! We were all congratulating him and wishing him the best on his interview.”

Thanks to volunteers like Dale, who step up to the plate and use their talents to help others, Nashville Rescue Mission is able to serve 2,000 meals each day to the hungry and homeless in our community. You too can make a difference! Click the button below to get started.

 

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Thomas Rhett

Thomas Rhett

My wife, Lauren (Akins), and I grew up just north of downtown Nashville. We’ve seen Music City grow and change in many wonderful ways. We’ve traveled the world for my country music career and have had the opportunity to see the best and worst parts of different places. But at the end of the day, Nashville will always be our home.

That’s why we think it’s important to give of our time at Nashville Rescue Mission. A few months ago, we decided to #rockthehairnet with our friends at the Men’s Campus. A group of us donned aprons and filed into the kitchen ready to serve dinner on a Tuesday night. We began the evening thinking we’d be a blessing to the hungry and hurting men who needed a meal. We didn’t realize it so profoundly goes both ways.

The first thing Lauren and I noticed was the men we were serving didn’t look like someone we envisioned when thinking of a homeless man. They looked just like us. Some came from jobs they’d worked that day while others came in shivering from the cold. It was an honor to greet each one and hand him a tray of food.

As dinner ended, Lauren and a friend ventured into the dining room to ensure the men had received everything they needed. As they began cleaning the tables, my friends and I stood in the kitchen. An older gentleman walked over to us. He wanted to share his art with me. I was intrigued! He pulled a wrinkled piece of paper out of his coat pocket and proceeded to read his poetry.

This man was so talented. My heart melted as I watched him share his heart and story through well-crafted words. He might not be performing on a stage every night, but he is an artist nonetheless. That moment really stuck with me.

Serving a meal at the Mission is a great experience and an amazing chance to interact with those in need. It’s a neutral setting, judgment free, and filled with hope. As Lauren reminded me—everyone needs relationships and kind interactions. The men, women, and children who are without homes are still people. They are our brothers and sisters, and they deserve our kindness. In fact, we believe it’s our responsibility to help the hurting. If we didn’t, and simply assumed our neighbors were going to care for Nashville’s homeless population, we would be at fault. This is our city. It’s our duty to help. We were put on this earth to show love, and we truly believe this is one of the best ways we can do that.


Thomas Rhett, the son of songwriter Rhett Akins, was raised on a steady diet of Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, and the Rolling Stones. Known for penning hits for Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line, his debut album, It Goes Like This, spawned five Top 40 hits and three number ones. He was nominated for the coveted CMA New Artist Award, the ACM New Artist Award, various CMT Awards, and an iHeart Radio Award. His newest album, Tangled Up, released in 2015. Rhett is married to Lauren Gregory, whom he has known since first grade.

 

A Different Kind of Stage

A Different Kind of Stage

“I have a friend who once was homeless and stayed at Nashville Rescue Mission for almost a year. That’s how I first heard about this place.”

Today, Jason Minton is sitting in the Mission’s lobby, his guitar in its case on the floor next to him. “That was eight years ago! That’s how long I’ve been playing here.”

Growing up in Franklin and Nashville, Jason was surrounded by the music industry. He learned to sing, play the guitar, and write songs. He had a feeling he’d be playing on a stage one day—he didn’t realize it’d be on the one at Nashville Rescue Mission.

“My heart wanted to do something with the talent God has given me. I wanted to use it to serve others, so
I reached out to nursing homes, rehabs, and other nonprofits. When a staff member from the Mission called me back, he told me to come down the following Friday and sing during chapel. I’ve been performing at the Mission once or twice a month ever since.”

Today, Jason visits both the Men’s and Women’s Campuses each month. As hundreds of homeless and hurting individuals file in for chapel, he tunes his guitar and takes his place in front of the crowd. Jason uses his platform to minister through music, often playing songs the men or women requested he learn the month before. “They like to be able to sing along, so I’ll go and learn their favorite songs.” Jason also takes time to encourage the men and women in the audience.

“Each night, there’s a line of men who want to talk with me after chapel. We talk about what they’re going through, share a high five or a hug, and I try to encourage them as much as possible. This is crazy, but maybe four or five times a person has shared with me that they were planning to end their life that night. However, after hearing a song or an encouraging word during chapel, they will be here for another day. That’s what we all need, just one more day. Each day is another chance. I’m honored to be a vessel that Christ uses to serve at Nashville Rescue Mission.”

One of Jason’s favorite songs to sing during chapel service is called, “Running.” It’s about the struggles he’s been through, understanding that not a single person is perfect. He reminds the men and women of this. No matter where they are in life, Jesus will always provide the strength to get back up and finish the race.

“It’s not about me,” Jason shares. “It’s about using my skills to pour life into others. Anyone can do that—use their talents for good.”


Do you want to help those in need by using your skills and God-given gifts?  Find out how!

Gigi Butler

Gigi Butler

Gigi Cupcakes-36 founder

Faith is the first ingredient in my life. I’ve relied on my faith to get me through the best and worst of times. Second is relationships. My life has been blessed with wonderful relationships that have positively influenced my life. Third is the power of hard work. I’ve never been afraid to roll up my sleeves and get the job done. Finally is the power of love to change lives. These are the ingredients that fill my life and the very things I share in common with Nashville Rescue Mission.

I first discovered a love of baking while spending summers as a kid helping my Aunt Bennie, who owned a bakery and catering business. I loved to bake, but my real dream was to become a country music artist. I moved to Nashville in 1994 with less than $500 to pursue music. I cleaned houses during the day and sang at honky tonks at night. After several years, I realized it was unlikely that I’d be the next country star.

I began to focus solely on growing my cleaning business. A few years later, my brother called me, while I was in the middle of cleaning a house, to tell me he had waited in line at a cupcake bakery in New York for several hours for a red velvet cupcake. “Your cupcakes are so much better than these,” he said. “You should really consider opening a bakery in Nashville.”

In February 2008, I opened the doors to my first bakery—Gigi’s Cupcakes on Broadway. I cleaned three houses that day just to pay the plumber for the shop. Then my contractor came into the store to deliver a $15,000 invoice he’d forgotten. I had a total melt down. I remember praying and asking God to show me a way out of this. It was a scary time for me, but I knew I had to get up and make it work. This was my dream, I truly believed in it, and I was not going to fail. The customers came in, and we had a line outside our door. Eight years later, we now have 102 stores nationwide. God is so good.

He’s blessed me and I want to be a blessing to others. Since Gigi’s first opened, we’ve made it a priority to give back to the community. Every day we deliver complimentary cupcakes to Nashville Rescue Mission in an effort to bring a little bit of joy to those who are experiencing homelessness. I’m honored to be a part of such an incredible mission to serve others. That’s why I have supported and will always believe in Nashville Rescue Mission.


Gigi Butler is the founder and culinary creator of Gigi’s Cupcakes. Gigi started her small bakery in Nashville, TN, in 2008 with $33 to her name. In eight short years, Gigi’s Cupcakes has grown to 102 locations and is now the largest cupcake franchise in the country. In 2015 Gigi was the first Nashville CEO to be featured on the CBS TV show Undercover Boss.