It was a WILD ride, but with your help we’ve officially made it through the month of June! Here’s the short version of some of the incredible things that took place last month.
How’s Nashville Campaign
Here at OTN and around the city homeless advocates and service providers have been especially busy bees HOUSING 45 PEOPLE FOR THE MONTH OF JUNE through the beautiful collaboration of the How’s Nashville campaign –– that’s 45 of our community’s most vulnerable unhoused folks (and our last 3 friends living in Hobson House!).
It all started with an amazing city-wide Registry Week. More than 100 volunteers (over 10% were OTN volunteers!) from agencies all over town and citizens who want to see homelessness ended showed up and showed out to go through training and then hit the streets and campsites from 3:30-7:30 a.m. for three consecutive mornings, on a mission to identify our city’s most vulnerable unhoused people and start working on getting them into housing before the risks of homelessness cut their lives short. Thirty days later, and we have done just that; 45 of our most vulnerable folks are now in homes of their own and are being surrounded by love and support to make sure they stay in housing for good.
Some of those folks are like our friend Frank, a 66 year-old veteran who had lived on park benches and under trees for 35 years, using alcohol to dull his misery. But guess what –– now that Frank has a place of his own, he has decided to quit drinking on his own, and he has been clean and sober and loving his new life for almost a month. It’s amazing what a safe place to sleep at night and the love of a community can do!
Other people coming home are like our friends, Anna and Michael and their 6 sweet children. They have been staying in shelters, on couches, and in hotels when they have the money. Aside from needing basic stability and a place to be kids, these little ones have a lot of other special needs, and their parents need to rest easy at night knowing their children have a safe place to call home. A generous friend in the community was inspired by the work going on with How’s Nashville and donated a whole house for them! Thanks to our carpenter friend, Wendell, and many other volunteers, this house has been renovated and this week will become Home to this amazing family.
We have been hard at work walking with friends through the sometimes rigorous housing process, picking up and delivering donated furniture and other new and gently used house-warming wares and food boxes to get our friends off on the right foot, visiting friends regularly to make sure they are adjusting and thriving, and especially collaborating with other service providers like the Homelessness Commission, Park Center, Mental Health Co-op, MDHA, the VA and many others to coordinate housing and continuing care. We have been continually overwhelmed by the creativity and passion everyone brings to the table when it comes to best meeting the needs of our friends. This 4th of July we’ll definitely be celebrating our interdependence as people who need each other and are held together by bonds of humanity and love.
Want to help?
– You can sponsor a friend’s move-in! It takes about $1000 to move someone into housing –– that covers deposits, utility turn ons, furniture and housewares (some new, some used).
– You can donate a Welcome Home pack: a shower curtain and rings, a trash can, trash bags, basic cleaning supplies, dish soap, laundry detergent, a coffee pot + filters, a can opener, an oven mitt, dish towels, and toilet paper. We’re also working on getting folks towels, bed sheets, plates, bowls, cups, silverware, pots, pans, and cooking utensils
– We need so much furniture! If you are looking to get rid of dressers, couches, beds, tables and chairs, or TVs in good condition, we will come pick them up!
– And of course, we need people who can actually help move our friends. We’ve have great summer mission groups helping out so far, but the work doesn’t stop when they leave –– donate your strong back!
On June 28th, OTN hosted our first Resource Shelter night – one at Barth Vernon United Methodist and one at Hillcrest United Methodist. We had a blast sharing meals and having 2 big sleepovers with 18 new friends.
The shelter nights are not only a super fun way to build community and meet basic needs like food, showers, haircuts and foot care, but they are a great point of entry for the How’s Nashville campaign. Our guests can relax and enjoy a hot meal and also begin the housing process by taking the Vulnerability Index survey, ordering required IDs and birth certificates, or even get help filling out housing applications depending on where friends are in the process and what best fits each situation.
We have been gifted with two incredible interns this summer!
Natalie Pickett is a student from LSU who visited Nashville last fall with her college ministry group. She loved this work so much that she decided to raise money and come spend the summer working with us. We’re pretty sure we would NOT have survived the month of June without her. She jumped head first into one of our busiest seasons ever and has learned on her feet and loved well.
Grant Winter has been a dedicated volunteer for the past year. He connected with OTN through Nashville Advocates with the Unhoused, organizing to end the criminalization of homelessness. He has served as a Winter Warming Shelter site coordinator and has been willing to do whatever needs to be done. We can always depend on Grant to get the job done from leading volunteer scavenger hunts to middle-of-the-night surveying on the streets.
A huge thanks to both of you for your time, patience, and BIG hearts!
IMMERSION GROUPS –
Last month OTN hosted over 220 student and adult volunteers through Immerse Nashville and logged over 5,000 volunteer hours for the month of June. What a huge gift!
Our Immerse volunteers have served by reading with children, preparing and serving meals, renovating a donated house, visiting friends in new homes, move-ins & furniture deliveries, advocacy training, shelter organizing, gardening, foot clinic, and cleaning out Hobson House for its next season of life. Not only have they been doing good work in the community, but they have also been learning about poverty and homelessness straight from those most affected in ways that are stretching their minds and their faith in a way that will surely have a lasting impact.
We want to give a SUPER shout out to Board members Pete Regan, Madge Johnson and Barbara Higgins, as well as a host of dedicated volunteers like Zach King, Derrick Hooper, Lindsey Krinks, Wendell Segroves, Emma Scanlon, Brett Flener, Erin Hallman, Aaron Stauffer, Allison Winston, Lisa Gwok, and Jordan Richardson. Thanks sharing your stories, time, and expertise, and for your willingness to help lead these groups!