I love Thanksgiving! And Nashville Rescue Mission’s Great Thanksgiving Banquet has quickly become one of my favorite holiday traditions as Mayor. It is a reminder of the spirit of volunteerism, sense of community, and resilience that make Nashville so special year-round.

It is an honor to be able to support Nashville Rescue Mission’s staff and incredible team of volunteers in their mission to provide hope to the citizens of Nashville. The Mission’s success at serving our city’s homeless population is due to its 365-day-a-year dedication to helping the community through both the emergency services of housing and meals and its innovative longer-term programs.

As Nashville changes, the presence of organizations like the Mission becomes ever more important. And we know one thing that never will change is our friendly spirit and the hospitality of Nashvillians. When you help the Mission, it means that more men and women can leave homelessness behind and benefit from our city’s prosperity. When one more citizen is able to better their life, it has a positive ripple effect on our community as a whole. It means Nashville is a safer, healthier, and happier place, where more people are certain where their next meal will come from and more people can secure full-time employment. In a true community, all citizens will have the chance to prosper, and the work of the Mission embodies this idea.

Working alongside volunteers, Mission staff, and individuals dedicated to bettering their lives, I am reminded that making Nashville a great place to live is truly a community effort. Nashville is a place where neighbors will go out of their way to help all their neighbors, not because it is easy, but because they understand its importance. The Mission offers a place where our community comes together and makes a difference in the lives of thousands of individuals— whether it is just one meal or weeks of career training. At some point in their life, everyone will need the help, belief, or encouragement of someone else in order to achieve their highest potential. Nashville Rescue Mission provides this crucial support to empower individuals to overcome the challenge of homelessness and, in turn, achieve their highest potential.

I’d like to thank all staff and volunteers of Nashville Rescue Mission for embodying the spirit of volunteerism that helps tear down walls and build connections across our community. Your work makes a difference not just in bettering the lives of the individuals you serve, but in bettering all of Nashville.

As we celebrate another Thanksgiving, I’m very thankful for what you do for the people of our city.

Megan Barry is the seventh mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, a post she has held since 2015. She is the first woman to hold the post, and the first Metro mayor to have previously served on the Nashville-Davidson Metropolitan Council.