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.