Samuel Lester has been doing outreach with Open Table as a volunteer since 2013, and joined the staff in September 2014. Previously, he taught for 13 years at Montgomery Bell Academy, and has a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Houston where he studied philosophy, history, and literature, and worked towards a Ph.D. in Social Thought at the University of Chicago. Samuel’s work begins from a concern that our society must regain our spiritual balance, that too many hearts have become clouded by self-centered materialism, and that our own humanity is bound up with our care for others, especially the less fortunate. We begin to destroy ourselves as well as others when we forget how, despite individual efforts, family and community can lift us up, or chain us in cycles of depression, anxiety, addiction, disfunction, and vulnerability. Breaking those chains is a complicated process, but begins with friendship, understanding, and housing. In 2013, he opened the Nostos Gallery in the Arcade, which is affiliated with OTN, to hold a mirror up to our community, and to explore how our habits and policies of education, justice, and economics sustain or hobble us. He also does advocacy with the Nashville Homeless Organizing Coalition, A Voice, and is a part of the Amos House Community. When not wandering back streets and camps, he can be found wandering back trails visiting endangered wildlife communities, reading, sculpting, or playing music.