“I first became involved with the Mission because my ex-husband was a resident and had stayed there,” shared Carole Raley.
Years before, Carole, her husband, and their two sons lived in Florida, where they operated a fish camp. But one day, her husband suffered a total nervous breakdown.
“He barricaded himself in our house with our sons while I was at work,” recalled Carole. “Then, he called to say if anyone moved outside, he would kill the boys and himself. It put us on a journey where we lost our business, our home, he ended up in and out of mental institutions, and we divorced. Eventually, we moved to Nashville, and we lived in the basement of my mother’s house.”
After moving to Nashville, Carole and her sons visited her ex-husband a few times when he was at the Mission. At some point, he was at the VA Hospital in Murfreesboro, where he walked away and disappeared. So, it was quite a shock when Carole received a call months later from the VA Hospital in Nashville telling her that he had died of a massive heart attack.
“We had no idea he was even there,” shared Carole.
“Later, someone from the Mission called to offer their condolences and let me know they had some of his belongings. They sent us the sweetest card and letter, along with his wallet and some cars my boys had made for him.” After that, Carole started donating regularly and her frequent trips eventually led her to volunteering.
“My hope is to glorify God,” proclaimed Carole. “I remember where I came from. At one time I was lost and didn’t believe there was a God. But I learned the truth and the truth set me free.”
Today, Carole is actively involved in the women’s ministry at the Mission specifically working on the Mission’s annual Heart of Hope celebration in February.
“I want the women to know God loves them, and they are loved in a way they’ve probably never been loved before in their life. It’s an unconditional love from the God of the universe. He loves each of us, and we can call Him Father, and He’s the best daddy you’ll ever have.”
Having experienced homelessness firsthand, Carole knows what it’s like to feel invisible. “I love that Mission cares for people regardless of their situation or circumstance. But I believe the most important thing the Mission does is share the love of God with those who feel like they are invisible. I mean feeding them, clothing them, providing them a safe place to sleep—all that’s wonderful.
But I think loving them is the most important thing the Mission does. They make them feel visible. ‘I see you. I know you. I love you. I want to help you.’ I love that about Nashville Rescue Mission.”