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Help Stand in the Gap

“To tolerate injustice and descend into apathy is to dissolve the bonds that are the formation of our community.” I read this quote from students at the University of Virginia in a news article recently, and it really struck a chord with me. Students used this quote to entice people to take action to form a more inclusive and prosperous community within their university, and Open Table Nashville is doing the same thing, right here in our community.

OTN can always use more volunteers, so I’m here to encourage you to recruit your friends and neighbors to become more involved with Open Table. There are an estimated 6,000 homeless people in Nashville., including 2,800 children. That’s 6,000 people who, without relationships with Open Table Nashville and a handful of other outreach service providers, have nowhere to go. NOwhere to go.

Can you imagine yourself in that situation?

Additionally, through partnership with How’s Nashville and with other resource providers, Open Table has contributed to getting 550 people into affordable housing since June 4, 2013. The Open Table team is effectively working towards their mission to end chronic homelessness in Nashville, and, let’s face it-who doesn’t want to be a part of a winning team? We all  have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters to ensure that all have a place to call home. Personally, I believe that, as a society, we have a duty to leave the world a better place than we found it. Open Table works hard to see that people in need of assistance get the help they need and deserve.

The other day, Natalie, Ingrid, and I went to hang out with our friends Smurf, Angel, and Cowboy. Before he sang us a song, Cowboy prayed a prayer with an ending that really moved me. Cowboy asked God that he and his friends be able to “help others while we try to help ourselves.” People experiencing homelessness are often dismissed as lazy or freeloaders looking for a handout, but these friends are truly loving, holy people who want to help stand in the gap with people because they have been helped in times of need, too. Will you lend a hand? I hope you will consider becoming involved with Open Table Nashville’s work in our community and to share your passion for helping our brothers and sisters who need it the most. (volunteer@opentablenashville.org) Thank you to so many who have already reached out to serve –– we couldn’t do it without you!

Peace,

Matthew

OTN Summer Intern

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How Anderson Cooper sees homeless people now

Recently, Anderson Cooper and the crew of 60 Minutes spent some time with our Open Table Nashville community. In the hours he spent with us, learning about the lives that were changed, he, too, was transformed.

When asked about the impact this report had on him, he had this to say:

It really changes your perception of the problem of homelessness and the people who end up being homeless…we all have support networks. We all have family and friends and a job and things that support us when we trip. These are people who have burned through those support networks. And that’s really the only difference. Read more “How Anderson Cooper sees homeless people now”

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We’re on 60 Minutes!

Check out this press release about the upcoming 60 Minutes show that features our joint efforts to move our friends off the streets and into permanent housing:

From: Tedesco, Kevin
Sent: Friday, February 07, 2014 1:52 PM
Subject: Housing the Homeless Can Save Money – 60 MINUTES

[release]
February 7, 2014

GIVING APARTMENTS TO THE CHRONICALLY HOMELESS CAN SAVE TAXPAYER DOLLARS, ADVOCATES SAY – “60 MINUTES”

The  “100,000 Homes Campaign” Has Already Gotten 80,000 People Off The Streets

Advocates for the homeless say providing apartments to those who have been on the streets the longest and are at greatest medical risk can actually save taxpayers money.  Even if these people have not yet received treatment for substance abuse or alcohol problems, getting them off the streets often keeps them out of hospitals, where the cost for one night is more than a month’s rent in many places.   Anderson Cooper reports from Nashville, one of the cities that have joined the 100,000 Homes Campaign, for a 60 MINUTES report to be broadcast Sunday, Feb. 9 (7:00-8:00PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Read more “We’re on 60 Minutes!”

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45 Friends Housed in June!

 

Natalie doing a Vulnerability Index in the early morning hours
Natalie doing a Vulnerability Index in the early morning hours

Dear OTN Friends,

It was a wild ride, but with your help we’ve officially made it through the month of June!

Here at OTN and around the city homeless advocates and service providers have been especially busy bees HOUSING 45 PEOPLE IN 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 friends are now in homes of their own and are being surrounded by love and support to make sure they stay in housing for good.

frank at homeSome 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.

Ingrid and our dear Ashley from Park Center
Ingrid and our dear Ashley from Park Center

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 friend 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, the VA and many others to coordinate housing andcontinuing 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 interdependance 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!

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How’s Nashville Campaign Registry Week (i.e. Let’s hit the…

Dear OTN Family,how's nashville image

The time has come –– Registry Week for the Nashville chapter of the 100,000 Homes Campaign (we’re calling it How’s Nashville) we be conducted May 28 – June 4, and we need your help!

In case you missed the update in our last newsletter, here’s what the 100,000 Homes / How’s Nashville Campaign is all about:

–The 100,000 Homes Campaign is a national effort to house 100,000 individuals who are chronically homeless and extremely vulnerable by July, 2014.

–The How’s Nashville campaign has been and will be driven by incredibly beautiful community collaboration as we work together to bring Housing First to life in our city.This is a model that considers permanent housing as the first form of “treatment” for our most vulnerable friends. People don’t have to be good enough or have their lives together first. They are just given a safe place to live and then surrounded by the services they need to heal and be whole. This way housing is not a reward, but a thing that all people deserve. Yes.

–Nashville is one of 189 cities that have joined the movement. To date, more than 38,000 people have been permanently housed and supported!

Tent-City-ImageWhat is Registry Week?

Registry Week is the official kick-off of the campaign, and we couldn’t be more excited to hit the ground running. During 3 very early morning outings (what a good time for bonding with other members of the OTN family and advocates from around the city!), team leaders and volunteers will survey people who sleep on Nashville’s streets or in campsites in order to determine which folks are among the most medically vulnerable and at risk of dying on the streets if not placed in housing soon. These people will be placed in housing according to the most urgent need.

 

We Need You!

The campaign leadership team is looking for:
-20 volunteers to serve as team leaders. (Team leaders need to have significant experience with homeless populations.)

-An additional 100 dedicated volunteers who are willing to participate in a volunteer training session and then conduct surveys on three consecutive mornings from 3.30-5:30am. (Volunteers able to survey on all three mornings are preferred, but we will work with you to meet your schedule.)

-After the surveys have been conducted, we’ll need a third group of volunteers to help with data entry.

 

We are so proud of the work that the Metro Homelessness Commission, area businesses and other service providers from all over Nashville have put into this campaign so far. The energy is catching on, and we’re ready to join in this work with the bold hope that it will change the lives of our friends.

Please sign up HERE to hit the streets with us as a Registry Week volunteer!