Nashville organizations provide more than shelter during cold weather

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Those experiencing homelessness in Metro Nashville have had a warm place to stay during the extreme temperatures thanks to three organizations.

Metro Social Services, the Nashville Rescue Mission, and Room In The Inn have worked all week to provide shelter and warm meals to those in need, and they have managed to find space for everyone despite taking in hundreds of people.

“Let’s put it this way, we don’t turn folks away,” said Sam Siple, vice president of development and marketing at the Nashville Rescue Mission. “We find the space, we’ll make capacity, and that includes even converting our chapel into a makeshift dormitory, and that’s to ensure that we’re providing those immediate needs and hope for people today and tomorrow.”

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According to Siple, at one point this week the Nashville Rescue Mission was feeding over 550 people more than three meals a day, including more children than normal with school being closed.

“When folks are coming in, I think they are looking to get immediate relief from the snow, the cold, the ice, so we want to make sure we’re providing them with warm clothing, hygienic products, a nourishing meal so they can not only get through this day, but the next as well,” Siple said.

Around the corner from the Rescue Mission, Room In The Inn volunteers and staff are providing more than shelter and food. They have also opened their doors during the daytime and offered a variety of activities, including karaoke, art classes, trivia, board games, and more.

“If you can imagine people having to use a shelter system, living in chaos, living in uncertainty, but also in crowded rooms with people you don’t know, that escalates in a lot of ways. So through our daytime services, we don’t want to just cram everyone in. We want to engage with them,” said Melanie Ober, the community development director for Room In The Inn.

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Room In The Inn has also been taking in people staying in churches that had to close due to the dangerous road conditions, making adjustments so they never have to turn anyone away.

“This isn’t a new occurrence today that they’re unhoused when it’s icy and snowy, so it’s trauma layered upon trauma in a lot of ways,” Ober said. “Our first approach is to lead with hospitality, to welcome them in. We know why they came in through the doors, so we want to offer them dry socks, we want to offer them a place to rest and just exhale for a minute.”

Metro Social Services works as an overflow shelter where around 300 people have been staying per night, according to shelter manager Robert Jones.

“They’re coming in wet, lost, scared, not knowing where their next meal is going to come, so it’s a very humbling experience for all staff to be able to help them, provide them with clothes, socks, shoes, get them out of the wet clothing, provide them with three meals a day,” Jones said.

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All three organizations are asking for donations of socks, gloves, hats, coats, hand warmers, in addition to monetary contributions and volunteers.

To learn how to help Room In The Inn, follow this link. Click here for how to help the Nashville Rescue Mission, and here for how to help Metro Social Services.

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