This month OTN would like to highlight one of our community partners, FYK Realty, and thank them for their committed hours of service at our Resource Shelters and their generous financial contributions. Lauren recently sat down with real estate consultant, Tiffany Fykes, to hear about their experience as OTN partners and volunteers.
L: How did you first hear about Open Table?
T: We were actively looking for an organization to partner with. We work with a lot of real estate in the Crieve Hall community, so we reached out to neighborhood leaders about non-profits in South Nashville, and a friend pointed us to Open Table.
L: How are you currently involved with OTN?
T: Our staff volunteers every month to do set-up at OTN’s housing Resource Shelters. We also contribute a welcome home kits every time we close on a house. So far this year we’ve had 80 closings, which means we’ve provided the funds for 80 welcome home kits for new residents and friends of OTN. Our goal this year is to provide one of those kits for everyone that OTN gets into permanent housing.
L: What have you enjoyed about partnering with OTN?
T: We’re passionate about helping people make good housing decisions for themselves. For us it’s not about the commission, but about helping people find a home that suits their needs and is sustainable. There is such a strong connection between our mission and yours at OTN. It just so happens that your clients or friends at OTN can’t afford a mortgage, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve housing options.
L: Have you had any experiences that stand out in your time volunteering with us?
T: We don’t get to spend as much time with OTN friends since we do the set-up at the beginning of shelter nights, but the most meaningful thing to me has been that most of us can bring our kids to help make up the beds. It’s great that 1. they love doing it, and 2. they’ll grow up with this being a normal experience. It takes away the fear built into stereotypes of people who are homeless, so now our kids can grow up without that. One night we went and OTN was celebrating someone’s birthday, so our boys got to be part of wishing her a happy birthday –– that was fun to see.
T: I think it’s a mindset that has to change about our understanding of homelessness. Everybody should have a safe place; everybody should be able to stay warm in the winter. Just because there may be events from people’s past that have contributed to their loss of housing, we have no idea what those things are, and that shouldn’t keep them from having a better future. Housing shouldn’t be a consequence that gets held over someone’s head.
Thanks, FYK Group! For anyone else interested in volunteering at our Resource Shelters or assembling welcome home kits, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.