Since 2012 Compassionate Hands has been helping the unhoused in Wilson County. In 2020, this much needed local charity found a permanent space and it could not have come at a better time.
Compassionate Hands began as a network of churches working together to provide winter shelter to Wilson County’s unhoused population. Their purpose was to insure that no unhoused friend would freeze to death. In 2020, they were blessed with the opportunity to purchase their own building, thus allowing them to offer year-round services.
Shelia Weathers, the current Director of Ministry Development at Compassionate Hands, continues daily to fulfill it’s mission by procuring volunteers, funds and other resources. Weathers became involved after learning about the organization from a board member with whom she attended church. Before joining Compassionate Hands, Shelia was the Development Officer for another ministry located in Nashville, that also served the unhoused population. Because of her background, she was already familiar with her new role and agreed to join their mission. Weathers stated, “I am continually grateful for God leading me to this amazing organization”.
The mission statement of Compassionate Hands is to provide opportunities to serve, support, advocate, and befriend our unhoused neighbors in need in Wilson County. Weathers believes that by providing the men and women who live on the streets during the winter months, a safe place to eat three meals a day, showers, beds, laundry, clothing, mentoring, further supports the long term goal of eventually helping the unhoused find jobs, permanent housing and other resources. During the warmer months, the organization works to support the same individuals by continuing to provide a place to shower, eat, do laundry, obtain counseling, and acquire other resources that many may not have access to otherwise. Weathers reiterated that Compassionate Hands’ mission is vital to the community, since the organization may be one of the few allies for the unhoused population.
Weathers spoke of an incident in which an elderly man in poor health was living in his car in a business’s parking lot. Compassionate Hands’ volunteers began to work towards building a relationship with the man by providing him meals and other needs and asking him to elaborate on his situation. They soon realized that he was receiving disability benefits and paying for his relative’s expenses with these funds in order to house them, which left him with very little. Due to the man’s condition, the organization was able to utilize funds from a recent grant they had obtained, to assist him and his family into housing where they still remain today. This is just one example of the good this charity does for the community.
There are numerous methods that members of the Wilson County community can aid the organization’s cause. Volunteering can be a beneficial experience for all involved. This summer, volunteers are needed on Mondays and Wednesdays especially. Volunteers can participate in food preparation, serving meals, assisting with laundry and showers, repairing bikes, mentoring, painting and minor repair work, landscaping, and cleaning at the center. During the winter season, the shelter is more active in housing people, and needs volunteers for all of these tasks, in addition to nightly staffing for the shelters and bus drivers. The organization also must replenish supplies frequently, and monetary donations are extremely helpful.
In 2020, the organization moved into its headquarters on College Street in Lebanon. It came right at the perfect time, because with COVID, places to shelter the homeless for the night, became limited. The headquarters was used to house the male population and The Glade Church in Mt. Juliet graciously provided their facility as shelter for the women. “Our new headquarters was a Godsend,” notes Weathers “because finding shelter was becoming harder and harder for us because of the pandemic. The long-term plan for the headquarters is to be a place the unhoused can obtain resources/training to obtain sustainability with jobs, housing, and other much-needed life-skills, with the overnight shelter to return to the local churches. But we are taking it day by day and are just thankful that for now, we have this permanent building to offer our unhoused community.”
To find out how you can help Compassionate Hands as a volunteer or donor, call (615) 784-9897, or email info@compassionatehandsTN.org.