I grew up in Pittsburgh. While the homeless numbers there are much bigger than here in Nashville, I must say, for the most part, I was shielded from it. I do remember a time when our church hosted a breakfast for the homeless. Word spread fast and the turnout was huge.

It’s really hard to see so many people in need and not know how to help them. Simply knowing that the need for a meal is only a small part of what these individuals face.

I find myself asking, “What can I do to help?” Because not helping … that’s not an option. I am hesitant to give out cash, not sure if it is the best way to help. At times my family and I have handed out Subway gift cards—hoping it might provide a hungry person with a meal or two. I’ve also heard giving out local bus passes can be helpful. These things might help, but only for a few, and only for a short period of time. I’m left wondering … what is the best way to feed and care for the most amount of people who are in need?

In Nashville, the answer is Nashville Rescue Mission. The Mission provides meals, clothing, and shelter to over 800 men, women, and children in our community. And yes, I said ‘our community.’ I love this city so much, I moved my family here and we now call this home. Yet for many who live here, there is no place to call home.

A few years ago a friend invited me to be a part of an amazing fundraising event at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center called Music with a Mission. It was to help the homeless and benefit Nashville Rescue Mission. I was delighted to be a part of it. In the process, I learned more about the incredible work the Mission is doing in our city to care for those experiencing homelessness. Performing at the event was an amazing experience. I got to sing with the Nashville Symphony, and more importantly, I got to give back, by helping raise awareness for a cause I care deeply about.

The show Nashville is what brought me and my family to this wonderful city. In the show, my character Deacon is an alcoholic, who struggles with a relapse, along with many other difficulties. I know this doesn’t make me an expert on this issue. In fact, I know I cannot completely understand what the homeless men and women in our community face. But I do care and I still have compassion for them and what they are going through.

It’s why the work Nashville Rescue Mission is doing is so valuable. Through their network of support and resources, homeless men, women, and children in our city have a place to go. They have outstretched arms ready to love, care, and comfort those in need.

It’s also for this reason that I support the work of the Mission. They are giving hope to many who might otherwise be hopeless.


Charles Esten is a recording artist and actor, best known for his role as Deacon Claybourne on the popular show Nashville, now airing on CMT. Taking an innovative approach to sharing his music, Charles launched #EverySingleFriday exclusively on iTunes where he releases a new single every week.