Thanksgiving Day is when we give thanks and reflect on our blessings. Many have posted daily gratefulness leading up to and including Thanksgiving via social media, commercials reflect families gathering together around a large table adorned with food as far as the eye can see, a roaring fireplace in the background, candles flickering in grandmother’s silver candlestick holders. Everyone has a smile, everyone is comfortable. But that is not always the case. Walk with me, and I’ll show you.
There are many who look at Thanksgiving as just another day amidst the chaos they are enduring. This chaos can include loss of a job/income, family and your home. It can include wondering where your next shower, meal and a bed will come from. It can include not having an ounce of hope left. On Thanksgiving morning, I climbed onto our mid bus and with Mike Servais, Ex Dir of Marketing and Development at the wheel, we set off in search of finding folks who were hungry and had nowhere to go on this holiday that when defined, means togetherness.
We drove down the various downtown streets of Nashville and came across a park where many were gathered, bundled up with plastic grocery sacks containing all they have in the world. Mike parked the bus and walked over to where they were sitting. He asked “who was hungry, that we have a feast waiting for them and we will bring them back here afterward.” Many got up out of their seat and shuffled over to the bus. They selected a seat, smiles on their faces. Folks from every walk of life and background were on that bus. Conversations started and many met for the first time, chatting candidly about their lives, the weather and who their favorite football team was.
I remember looking out the window and catching a glimpse of a very nice restaurant. on the corner Individuals, dressed in their best, waiting patiently outside for the doors to open so they could be escorted to their table and then served their meal amongst friends and family. Then I looked back at our passengers. These folks will get to do the same thing at our Center of Hope down the street. They are wearing the best they have, they will be greeted at the door and shown to their table, they will be waited on and will have the opportunity to relax, eat until they are full and be surrounded by friends.
As I stood in our dining room, tears started to fall as I watched each and every person enjoy their meal. Some chose to eat in silence, savoring every morsel of stuffing, the richness of the turkey and the tartness of the cranberry sauce. Others talked the time away as they hurriedly ate in anticipation of the next plate that would be handed to them. I watched all of the smiles, the hugs, the thankfulness they displayed at this meal provided to them and how grateful they were for the love. It was the most beautiful thing to watch and I can’t imagine being around a greater bunch of people. I was blessed and honored just to be in their presence and I pray that we all take the time to stop what we’re doing and make time for others.
Matthew 25:35, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in”
Our Bridge 2 Bridge 4 mile Run/1 Mile walk is just around the corner and in light of this amazing event that benefits The Salvation Army in Nashville, we are featuring a couple of runners who have a heart for others and a determination to stay healthy, mind, body and soul!
Meet Daniel Escue! I met him last year at our Angel Tree warehouse. Daniel had arrived early to pick up his race packet but they weren’t quite ready so Daniel immediately asked how he could help. He was directed to me and I showed him the wooden rail carts full of toys that needed to be placed in their corresponding bag, matching number with number. He went to work and an hour later, he had completed 2 large carts. Daniel also raised $500 through his fundraising page with I Run for The Party, the event management company who sponsors this race. Daniel was a blessing to many angels that Christmas with each step that he took across the 3 bridges and with each bag he carefully placed and sorted in the warehouse. So how did he find us to help? How did he get into running? I’ll just let him tell you!
“15 years ago this past October, I was involved in a bad car wreck and almost lost my left leg from the knee down. At that point, I wasn’t even sure about walking, let alone running. After the accident, I wasn’t really active, just let life happen and soon found myself unhealthy, over 50 pounds overweight, just not in a good place.
Then, in 2011 some life changing events happened in my family that made me realize I’m not getting any younger and I need to take care of myself. In June 2011, I started long, brisk walks that eventually turned into jogging, which soon turned into running. On Father’s day, I entered my first race which was a 5k and it was all uphill (or preferably down hill for runners) from there :) I began eating healthier as well and before I knew it, it was August (my birthday) less then 3 months since I’d began running and 60 lbs lighter. I felt and looked better than I’d ever had before.
To date, I’ve completed over 30 races, 16 of those were half marathons, 2 Triathlon Sprints and, ten 5ks. I also ran the Bridge 2 Bridge 4 mile run and will be running it again this year to help raise money for the Salvation Army Angel Tree program. I support the Salvation Army because I believe in what they are doing year round. Last year, I experienced just a glimpse of it when I went down and helped sort out a warehouse full of toys!!
Running has changed my life and I believe it could change anyone’s for the better. Whether you “Run It Fast” or walk it, what counts is just being out there!
Join Daniel on December 1 as we run for angels! For more information on how to register and/or fund raise with the Bridge 2 Bridge 4 Mile Race/1 Mile Walk, click here!
Hillsboro High School, Independence High School, Pearl Cohn High School, Centennial High School and Donelson Christian Academy all possess top notch choral groups who have participated in many events here in Nashville and across the United States, showcasing beautiful harmonies, enchanting melodies, dazzling choreography and lots of heart, soul and passion for the art!
The stage will consist of brilliant lighting, breath taking back drops and the faces of this cities youth as they strive to raise awareness for a program that is celebrating it’s 30th year in Nashville. These kids have practiced tirelessly, focusing on the mission of this performance. With the poise and grace of each dance step, they are moving for an angel; a child who has been given a little hope for Christmas this year with the Angel Tree program. With each note that rings through the auditorium; each word that is sung, they are speaking for the thousands who line up to register for the program in hopes of light this Christmas versus the bleakness they may face on a daily basis.
Along with these amazing groups, this event is hosted and will include performances by the incomparable Nashville Choir and the Event Emcee’s American Idol’s Bo Bice along with special presentations and music by WSMV’s Lisa Spencer, Mix92.9 Mix Morning Crew (Anna Marie Ritter, Clint Redwine and Kim Leslie), St Louis’ own StikYard and Danielle Kingsley!
So bring your family, encourage your co-workers and friends and make this your new holiday tradition….sure it’s a little early but need knows no season!
Tickets are still available, click here to purchase yours and help us spread the word by sharing this on Facebook or Twitter!
Angels helping Angels, that’s music to our ears!
This amazing event is made possible by Presenting Sponsors: Dr and Mrs. Thomas F Frist Jr. and Trevecca Nazarene University
Angel Emeritus Sponsor:
Dr and Mrs Brevard Haynes
Silver Angel Sponsor:
Mr and Mrs John Anderson
Mr and Mrs Bob Britton
Mrs Adelaide Davis
Ms Joyce Hardy
Mr and Mrs Biff Porter
Dr and Mrs Steve Pusey
Mr and Mrs Doug Remke
Mr and Mrs Mike Servais
Mr and Mrs Roddy Story
David, Jule, Milly and Lydia West
Special Thanks to the following sponsors:
Food Angel Sponsor:
Forgotten Angel Sponsor:
Our National Advisory Board along with officers and staff from around the United States, including Former First Lady of the United States, Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush-Hager came to town last week. We hosted a breakfast in the morning and later that night, we presented a 2 hour program in the gymnasium of The Salvation Army Magness Potter Community Center. The goal? To share what’s been happening over the past several years here at The Salvation Army in Nashville and the lives of those who have been impacted by the programming.
The night would not have been possible without our production and tech crew and companies who donated their services to help make this event unforgettable. We wanted to recognize the very talented and giving companies who made this happen!
Invested Productions provided us great insight and planning into the production of the event which included fabric that encircled the room with images of our programs displayed in harmony with each speaker. We shared the vision and they creatively made it come to life incorporating techniques never used in that type of setting! Big thanks to Jon Allen and his amazing staff at Invested Productions!
DWP Live donated close to a million dollars worth of video equipment for this event and provided the very talented crew to accompany it. The images displayed, the colors, depth and quality was a blessing as it drew in the audience, enabling them to feel like they were present in each picture shown. Congrats to Tennessee based DWP Live for being awarded the NEXT Award which is Excellence and Entrepreneurship. We’re not surprised, as they provided the projectors/crew for the Super Bowl Half Time show last year and created an amazing ambiance for our National Advisory board dinner. Thanks again to DWPLive!
Lights, camera, action! You can’t have one without the other and thanks to the folks at Delta Stage Lighting, we had beautiful lighting for this event. As each speaker stood and shared, the lights fell in a soft subtle, yet enchanting way, reflecting beautifully off the dark carpet highlighting the images on the canvas and creating a starry effect during transitions. Thank you again Delta Stage Lighting!
A voice can only travel so far and every note a musical instrument provides can only impact the select few who happen to sit close enough, and for the rest, the message and music is lost without the gift of audio! Microphones, speakers, etc, a big, big thank you to Digital Console Rental who helped provide us with the equipment we needed to share the messages; to tell the stories! Thanks again to the folks at Digital Console Rental, it was music to our ears!!
And the beautiful fabric, provided by Blue Nova which provided us with the means to display images over the past 122 years here at The Salvation Army. Our very own palette in which we could allow the audience to see and understand the impact of their support of this organization and how not only immediate change can occur but legacies are created! Thank you again to Blue Nova for this wonderful gift!
And finally, to Event Systems Nashville for generously donating audio equipment for this event. The gift of sound is a blessing and we are very grateful for having state of the art audio equipment provided to us by Digital Console Rental and Event Systems Productions. We could’ve had all the lights and imagery possible but without the message being heard and the musical notes and powerful lyrics being absorbed, the event becomes lost, with no impact to be gained. Thank you again Event Systems Nashville for the wonderful gift of sound!
Thank you to Walker Mathews, Eba Hobbs and RC Mathews Contractors for their assistance in obtaining necessary equipment to help get this project off the ground! Literally! The scissor lifts and generator were what helped get this program off to a great start! Thank you again!
Want to view the transformation? Click here!
We would also like to personally thank our speakers who shared that night,(Staff member) Mike Servais, (Magness Potter Community Center Alumni) DeCarlos Robinson and a graduate of our Transitional Housing Program with introductions by Sgt Ernie Simms, April Calvin and Lt Colonels Charles and Shirley White.
To singer/songwriter, Lara Landon, who is a member of our Berry Street Worship Center and shared on her love for the people who attend there!
And to singer/songwriter/author and humanitarian, Jimmy Wayne, recipient of Angel Tree when he was a child. Jimmy shared on his tumultuous childhood, the Costner’s who provided light amidst the darkness and how to this day, he continues to fight on the behalf of foster youth in the United States.
It was a night, never to be forgotten and it all came together by God’s mighty hand as he brought together amazing companies and individuals who offered their time, talent and treasure to the cause!
We are grateful and thankful!
A week ago, love came to town. Love, in the form of National Advisory Board members who flew into Nashville to gather together and discuss The Salvation Army. All from different backgrounds, all from different fields of expertise and employment but one unified love and heart for the mission of The Salvation Army.
Our National Advisory Board members, Salvation Army officers and staff from around the country meet 3 times a year in various cities to not only plan and strategize Salvation Army as a whole but also visit and catch a glimpse into how the local Salvation Army is effectively meeting the need at the point of need in the community in which it resides.
Here in Nashville, we began Thursday, September 20th with a early morning breakfast in which we could meet and chat with our Board members, get to know them and receive an encouraging word from top Nashville business and community leaders, such as Charlie Bryan, Lifetime Nashville Advisory Board Member and Bert Mathews, President of The Mathews Company and Chairman of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. We had the privilege of hearing from our National Advisory Board Chair, Charlotte Jones Anderson, whose passion for The Army rang true as she stated, “compassion is not a spectator sport, everyone has to play.” Then, we concluded with words of encouragement from our National Commander, Commissioner William A. Roberts, who shared on why The Salvation Army does what it does each and every day, “we serve to emulate Christ.”
Later that evening, we held a special program in the gym of our Magness Potter Community Center that featured speakers who had a love for The Salvation Army as a result of impact from one or more of our programs and ministries. Our National Advisory Board members, local Advisory Board Members, officers and staff filled the tiny gym, anxious for the evening ahead. We were especially honored by the presence of Former First Lady of the United States and National Advisory Board Member, Laura Bush as well as her daughter Jenna who joined us!
With the help of Invested Productions and DWP Live who donated their talent and skills along with over a million dollars worth of audio/visual equipment, we were able to transform the gym into a 360 degree picture postcard that encircled our guests as they sat at their tables. At any given moment, snapshots of smiles, hugs, laughter, love, prayer, feeding, clothing, housing, encouraging and teaching adorned the flowing white canvas that served as our palette. A masterful work of art that depicted the lives changed over the past 122 years here at The Salvation Army-Nashville.
Tears, joy, victories and restoration were present within the stories shared by beneficiaries of our various programs. Among those, Lara Landon, member of The Salvation Army Berry Street Worship center and singer/songwriter in Nashville, Jimmy Wayne, country music artist, author and recipient of Angel Tree as a child and Mike Servais, staff member of The Salvation Army with a long history that traced back to a soup line in the 1920’s, Green Bay, WI that ended up being more than a meal for his grandmother and her children; it launched a legacy!
The theme of the night was Love Lives Here, but with each Board member and officer who came to visit, it was evident to us that Love Lives Everywhere and that within the souls of each one of us lies an opportunity to serve and create impact, no matter where we come from or what we’ve been through.
As we walked away from that incredibly busy but moving day, we couldn’t help but be reminded of the thousands of individuals and families who on any given day would enter our doors, seeking help. Those who felt they had no one to listen, no one to care and no one to guide them. Since 1890, the door has been open in Nashville and there has been an ear to hear, arms to hold and hands to lead, enabling each person to become all that God has desired them to be, mind, body and soul!
Love lives here and always will…….
The Salvation Army began its disaster services ministry on September 8, 1900 when Galveston was hit by a hurricane. Since then, throughout the world, The Salvation Army’s officers, staff and volunteers have been there, usually within hours of a disaster striking. During a disaster, we are there to provide warm meals and emotional spiritual care, which means that we offer prayer, empathy, comfort and love to not only victims but also relief workers. It’s also important to note, that when you donate to The Salvation Army’s Disaster Relief, 100% of what you donate will go to disaster services!
Here in Nashville, we maintain a 16 foot mobile feeding kitchen or canteen. This is ready to go at a moments notice and has been used all over the United States as well as locally. Our canteen has been sent to Ground Zero, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, Hurricane Ike, Chattanooga, TN, Jackson, TN and locally in Nashville during the tornadoes that affected Murfreesboro, East Nashville, Gallatin, Lafayette and the Flood of 2010. Our canteen is also utilized weekly to feed the homeless under the Jefferson Street bridge and on East Main Street at the East Nashville Cooperative Ministry.
In addition to the work done in times of disaster, in Nashville we offer Emergency Services to families and individuals who need a little help with rent/utility assistance and food. We receive over 2000 calls a month from families all over Middle TN who are hungry or may be evicted soon or lose electricity or water from their home because of an inability to pay their bill. We have various resources who help to provide funding for this program but those resources are utilized very quickly, so it’s a constant challenge to meet the ever growing need. We are also a satellite site for Second Harvest Food bank and our shelves contain various items such as canned vegetables and fruit, pasta, cereals, tuna, peanut butter and sometimes fresh milk and bread. With the help of volunteers, we combine these items in boxes according to family size and hand these out as needed.
We consider it an honor and blessing to serve our brothers and sisters locally and around the US at moments when their whole world is tumbling down around them. We want to be there for them and help them rise out of the circumstance and fill them with hope and peace, allowing them to see that God is there and will see them through this!
“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” ~Isaiah 42:16