At Open Table Nashville, we believe that in order to break cycles of poverty and homelessness, we must first understand these cycles. We also believe that it is possible to engage issues of homelessness in meaningful, sustainable, and justice-oriented ways. To this end, we facilitate speaking engagements, urban immersions, trainings, and group volunteer opportunities with the goal of promoting personal transformation and systemic change. You can find more about our educational opportunities below. We are happy to gear our speaking engagements and trainings to the needs and interests of eachgroup. For a calendar of our scheduled trainings and events, please click here and to watch videos of past trainings, please click here.
If your group wants to learn more about issues of poverty and homelessness and find meaningful ways to engage, we are glad to come and share more about our work and community. To schedule a speaking engagement, please fill out this form.
A 2-4 hour hands-on learning experience in downtown Nashville that involves interactive discussions about the causes, effects, and realities of homelessness, ways to break cycles of poverty and homelessness, a scavenger hunt in the downtown area, and a walking tour of some of the places downtown that are important in the lives of the un-housed community. This can be geared toward any age-group. To support our work, we ask for a $15 per person donation for immersions or an in-kind donation of supplies. To schedule an immersion, please fill out this form.
GROUP VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
We are glad to connect with groups who want an opportunity to serve together. Many of these are “behind the scenes” jobs but are essential to keeping us running. Groups have helped organize storage, do laundry from shelters, put together Welcome Home Kits, and assist with move-ins. A typical group service experience lasts 2-4 hours. We have a small staff and are not able to coordinate multi-day mission trips at this time. To schedule a group volunteer opportunity, please fill out this form. If you want to connect with local groups who can help with this, please email Liz at volunteer@opentablenashville.
Our trainings are interactive, taught by seasoned outreach workers, centered in evidence-based practices, and incorporate the voices and stories of people who have been or are currently experiencing homelessness. We have different types of trainings that range from beginner to advanced, general to specific. If you have any questions or are interested in more than what we are offering below, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
General Volunteer Training
If you want to learn more about how to get involved with Open Table Nashville, this training is for you. Our volunteer training provides a basic understanding of who we are, what we do (and don’t do), what volunteers opportunities are available, our philosophy of homeless outreach, tips for staying safe, and the basic skills needed for Resource Shelters, foot clinics, and innkeeping.
Homeless Outreach Training – Beginner
If you have a little volunteer experience under your belt or are hoping to get more experience in the realm of homeless outreach, this training is for you. The Beginner training will cover the basics of how to better understand the complexities of both the personal and systemic aspects of homelessness, how to approach and engage in outreach, how to navigate the resources in Nashville, and how to cultivate reflective listening skills and healthy boundaries.
Homeless Outreach Training – Intermediate
If you have been volunteering in outreach efforts for some time and want to build and sharpen your skills in this field, this training is for you. The Intermediate training will cover tips for engaging with people who experience severe mental health and addiction issues, improving reflective listening skills, de-escalating aggravated situations and people, navigating housing and other resources in Nashville, and how to identify and respond to cold weather injuries and illnesses. Coffee and light snacks will be provided, please RSVP to email@example.com
Homeless Outreach Training – Advanced
If you have been volunteering or working in the field of homeless outreach for some time and want to strengthen your skills and work through complex scenarios, this training is for you. The Advanced training will focus on refining deescalation skills, working with people who have personality disorders and extreme barriers to housing, honing reflective listening (and Motivational Interviewing) skills, and cultivating sustainability in our care.
Advocacy and Policy
If you’re interested in learning more about addressing the root causes of homelessness (like the lack of affordable housing and the criminalization of poverty), then this training is for you. This training will focus on equipping you to know what’s happening on the ground with policy changes in Nashville, how to effectively navigate Metro Council and State Legislature, and how to organize for change in your community.
Winter Outreach Training
As the temperature drops, learn how you can help prevent cold weather deaths and injuries. This training will better equip you to engage and support our friends on the streets during winter; to help with outreach canvassing efforts on the coldest nights; to recognize and respond to injuries and illnesses like hypothermia and frostbite; and to better navigate the winter shelter system. Coffee and light snacks will be provided, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re looking for an introduction to homelessness in Nashville, please consider watching “Tent City U.S.A.” This documentary tells the story of Nashville’s largest homeless encampment and its residents before and after the flood of May 2010. This is also the story of Open Table Nashville’s formation. The trailer for this documentary is available below and you can find it as a “play now” option on Netflix. You can also find more resources, links, books, and videos here.