At Thanksgiving, many across the country will give thanks for another, plentiful year by sharing an abundant dinner with family and friends. But for the homeless, the holidays can be an intense time of stress, struggle, and fear. Bad decisions, tragedy, or a lifetime of abuse have left those struggling with homelessness without a home or family. Leaving many of them wondering if they have anything to be thankful for.

“Thanksgiving is a big deal at the Mission,” said Rev. Glenn Cranfield, president and CEO of Nashville Rescue Mission. “We want our homeless neighbors to know their lives matter regardless of their situation or circumstance. We want them to know that good people like you still care. Your support of the Mission gives the men, women, and children we serve meals and shelter, but more importantly—it gives them hope.”

At the Mission, the holiday is celebrated with a traditional Thanksgiving meal much like one you might eat at mom’s house consisting of turkey, dressing, green beans, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce, served with sweet tea, and a slice of pie. The hungry, homeless, and hurting are the guests of honor at this Thanksgiving feast, as volunteers carry their food for them and escort them to their table; while others are refilling glasses of tea and offering hellos and other words of encouragement. It is a day of fellowship as we thank God for His provision.

“No one should go hungry, at Thanksgiving or any other day,” said Cranfield. “Especially in a country as great as ours. And with the support of such a generous community, the Mission is making sure no one in Nashville goes hungry this Thanksgiving. Our doors are open to anyone who is need of help and hope. We welcome them with open arms and are saving a seat for them at the table.”

Lots of families will sit around their dinner table and give thanks to God for the blessings He has given them this Thanksgiving. Good health, jobs, relationships, and even one’s financial situation are often common subjects that come up as families share their prayers around the table. But the prayers here at Nashville Rescue Mission are all but routine.

For example, Andrea, a recent graduate of the Mission’s Life Recovery Program, will be thanking God for a myriad of things. Among those blessings, one will stand out from the rest—reconciliation with her family.

“Nashville Rescue Mission has given me a reason to be grateful this Thanksgiving,” said Andrea. “I was broken, desperate, and on the verge of suicide. The Mission took care of my physical needs making sure I had food to eat, a safe place to sleep, and those things certainly helped. But what made a difference for me was the love, acceptance, encouragement, training, counseling, and education I received while in their program. They gave me hope. They helped me see that my life has purpose and meaning … and that I’m here for a reason. I know I can never repay the Mission but I will never stop thanking God and telling others about how He saved me through the Mission’s program.”

Hope has the power to change lives. The Mission provides a means of hope by giving shelter to the homeless, feeding the poor, inspiring life-long learning, and encouraging a personal relationship with God to everyone we serve. Many come to the Mission’s doors seeking a warm meal, and are greeted with a loving environment, and here they find hope for a brighter future.

“We are so thankful for our donors, volunteers, staff, and everyone who is a part of the Mission family,” said Cranfield. “Each plays a significant role in making our ministry possible. In some cases, our ministry to those in need starts with a meal … and sometimes that meal is the one served at Thanksgiving. This meal might do more than ease an empty stomach. It might also open the door to other Mission services like job training, counseling, recovery programs … and for our guests, it’s often the start of a new and better life.”

Andrea is just one of the thousands of people your support allows the Mission to serve. She is a great example of how a meal, a piece of clothing, a coat, a pair of shoes … goes a long way in opening a heart and preparing a mind for the life transformation that awaits them if they are willing to take that next step, like Andrea did.

“At Nashville Rescue Mission, we give the hopeless safe shelter, a hot meal and people to share it with, and a reason to truly be thankful,” said Cranfield. “We believe that no one should be without on Thanksgiving. Jesus said, ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Thank you for giving hope.”