2015 year in review

IMG_5825

Here’s a little bit of what we were up to in 2015. . .

Unique outreach calls responded to: 5,863
Emergency meals and food boxes delivered: 429
Meetings with friends to work toward housing or resources: 1,592
Hospital visits: 164
Friends receiving camping supplies: 484
Bus passes given: 931
People receiving first aid care: 120
Birth certificates ordered: 111
New state IDs acquired: 44
Transport to & advocacy at appointments: 633
Donated furniture pick-ups: 79
New households receiving furniture: 170
People who attended OTN trainings or educational sessions: 2,475
Friends who entered treatment/rehab programs: 29
Overnight Resource shelters 64
Home visits with newly housed friends: 323
Total volunteer hours donated: 5,707

And finally, we moved 95 PEOPLE into permanent housing in 2015! Even amid a bleak and rapidly shrinking affordable/low-income housing market, we still housed more people than any previous year in our history. In this climate, each small victory requires our friends (and us as allies) to fight an uphill battle, every step of the way.

Going into 2016, we are desperate for landlords who accept Section 8 vouchers, who are committed to keeping Nashville affordable, and some who can be flexible with background issues as our friends try to make a fresh start. If you are such a person or have leads, please email lauren@opentablenashville.org to get connected in ending homelessness in our community.

We look around us and can’t help but give thanks for all the people who have fought alongside us –– those who have supported OTN and our friends with their time and money, cried with us on the dark days, and celebrated with us every time the light broke through again. For each of these gifts, big and small, for the beautiful people who teach us about justice and hospitality everyday, and for each person that makes this work possible, We thank you for sharing the journey.

An unlikely friendship

Friendship sometimes develops in the unlikeliest of circumstances. Two weeks ago I found myself in just this situation–a friendship that offered both pain and joy.

One of the friends whom OTN has worked with for years was brought into the Emergency Department for severe frostbite in both of his feet. This friend, whom I will refer to as “Jed,” was quickly transferred to the ICU because doctors found that his organs were failing. The OTN staff and volunteers had already been swamped with multiple days of emergency warming shelters and cold weather canvassing, so I offered to visit Jed. I had not then realized that it was the beginning of a friendship.

While we waited at Jed’s bedside it became apparent to the hospital staff that he had a strong community surrounding him. Family members and friends often visited him, and complete strangers sent their thoughts and prayers for Jed’s healing and comfort. When the snowstorm blanketed all of Nashville a few days later I breathed a prayer of thanks that Jed was not out in the freezing temperatures. Instead, he was receiving excellent care from his hospital team. At the same time, though, my mind was painfully aware that many others faced suffering and life-threatening conditions because of the extreme weather and no where to go.

At the ICU, amidst the constant activity of attending nurses and physicians, came the sound of Jed’s dialysis machine. At one point in the middle of the night I listened to my new friend’s breathing, then slowed mine down in tandem with his inhale and exhale.

Many factors separated our lives up to that point, and yet in that moment, the most important aspect we shared was so basic: we both needed to breathe in order to live.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Inhale.

Exhale.

In Greek pneuma, the word for breath, can also be translated as “spirit” or “soul.” As the rhythm of our breaths coalesced, I prayed for my friend, that he would experience life and strength in both body and spirit. Yet this friendship was not one-sided. Watching Jed fight for his life also offered healing to me. Like many of our friends on the streets Jed had experienced significant trauma and brokenness in his life.

Witnessing his vulnerability opened up areas of pain in my life that also needed healing. As I sat in his room there seemed to be so little to offer him; however, the more time I spent with him the more apparent it became that sharing in each other’s presence was a life-giving gift.


teresa-p

Teresa Pecinovsky is a third year MDiv student at Vanderbilt Divinity School and the English Ministry Pastor at Hanshin Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Nashville. Teresa spent the 2014-2015 school year as a field education intern with OTN and now volunteers with the community.

 

 

To pack a house

How do you pack a house?
How do you take things off walls?
How do you throw away trash
When each piece is a memory?
What is trash?
How do you pack a box?
One by one?
How do you move
When there is no where to go to?
How to pick up a box
With no where to set it down?
How do you leave
With no where to take you?
How do you move out
When there is no room in the inn?
How do you teach a heart to break?

hug-metoys-house

 


autumnAutumn Dennis is a native of Nashville, Tennessee. Autumn has a degree in Religion from Martin Methodist College and is a student at Vanderbilt Divinity School. Autumn is a thankful member of Amos House Community, a Catholic Worker house church through which Autumn was ordained as a minister and deacon on October 18, 2015. Autumn lives in the Nashville Greenlands Community, which is also affiliated with the Catholic Worker Movement. Autumn is engaged in ministry with the children of God who live lives on streets and in prisons. In Autumn’s spare time, Autumn skates as Sinister Minister for the Nashville Rollergirls. Autumn is currently serving as an intern Open Table Nashville.


 

Winter survival kits

Winter Supplies

Download this list >>

Winter is here, and that means we continue to need survival kits for outreach workers to take to camps. Our 12-15 outreach workers will each need at least 25 kits to take with them, which adds up to about 375 kits for the coming months.

Will you help us make this happen?

You can drop off items on Monday mornings, from 10:30AM-Noon at Woodbine United Methodist Church [2621 Nolensville Pike] OR at any of our resource shelters [every 2nd and 4th Fridays] from 5:30-9:30PM at the following locations:

  • Hillcrest United Methodist Church [5112 Raywood Lane]
  • Barth Vernon United Methodist Church [6200 Robertson Avenue]
  • First Church of the Nazarene [510 Woodland Street]
  • Flatrock Coffee, Tea, and More [Suite C, 2640 Nolensville Pike, Nashville]

These kits will need to contain:

  • Emergency blanket
  • Warm sleeping bags (preferably rated 10º or lower) or warm blankets
  • Tarps (8×10 or larger)
  • Hand and foot warmers
  • Warm socks (wool, if possible)
  • Warm gloves
  • High protein snacks
  • Water

Other items urgently needed:

  • Thermals in all sizes
  • Waterproof windbreakers
  • 4 person tents
  • 16.4oz propane tanks
  • Heaters that take 16.4oz propane tanks
  • Cough drops, tissues, and chapstick
  • Firewood and wooden pallets

We have an Amazon Wish List for additional items >>

We are unable to pick up items, but if you’ve got questions, please contact Liz.

OTN named Best Nonprofit by the Nashville Scene

We are super excited and honored that the Nashville Scene has named us Best Nonprofit! Here’s a little excerpt:

“The organization not only helps people get into housing, it works to educate the community about cycles of poverty, and its staff members are friends to many struggling Nashvillians.”

Pick up your free copy this week, or read more, here.