Thursday, January 30, 2014

10 Ways You Can Get Involved

Interested in volunteering with Room In The Inn?  You will join thousands of Middle Tennesseans who have decided to give of their time and talent to support people on the journey home.  The life you change will be your own.

Here are ten great ways to get involved.

1. Serve at your congregation’s winter shelter.

More than 6,000 Nashvillians work to shelter their homeless neighbors in 180 area congregations November 1-March 31 of each year.  Volunteers cook and serve meals, visit with guests, and serve as overnight innkeepers.  Contact your congregation to see how you can get involved.

2. Inspire recovery.

We need people in recovery from addiction to help lead 12-step meetings for our participants seeking sobriety from drugs and alcohol.  To get involved in our recovery programs, come to the next volunteer orientation.

3. Think outside the box.

We are much more than a place to sleep and eat.  Volunteers at Room In The Inn perform music in our cafe, lead our songwriters sessions, and care for people in our foot clinic.  We also have a rooftop garden that needs tending.  The idea for many of our most successful creative programs came from volunteers like you, so share your ideas with us.  Come to the next volunteer orientation to get plugged in.

4. Provide support to those in crisis.

Our activity center volunteers assist at the support desk, help operate our Fresh Start Laundry service, distribute toiletries for showers, and spend time getting to know those facing homelessness.  Come to the next volunteer orientation to get involved.

5. Educate others about homelessness.

Invite someone from the Room In The Inn community to speak to your congregation, class, or other group.  We are happy to help educate others about the experiences of the homeless community and how Room In The Inn seeks to meet its needs.  Contact our community development team to schedule a speaker.

6. Sponsor a donation drive.

Hold a special event to collect toiletries, over-the-counter medications, socks, toys for our Christmas toy store, or other items we need.  This is a great way to get your co-workers, classmates, or family involved in helping those struggling with homelessness.  Contact Room In The Inn’s community development team for more information about current needs.

7. Empower others to experience lifelong learning.

Volunteers in our Hope University adult education program offer classes on a variety of topics from job training to art to exercise.  They also help organize and operate our store, which offers participants an extra incentive to go to class.  To get involved in our innovative education program, head to the next volunteer orientation.

8. Help our participants experience a wider world.

Help host an on-site special event, a book club, or coffee house night.  Or, invite guests in our transitional programs to join you for a concert, sporting event, or other special event.  Contact our community development team if you are interested.

9. Serve up a nutritious meal.

We serve at least 1,095 meals each year at our downtown Campus.  That’s three a day.  We seek to feed not only the body, but the soul through good hospitality.  If your group is interested in providing a meal, take a look at this document for more information.

10. See hope in action.

Come take a tour of our downtown Campus and see for yourself what happens at our nationally-recognized comprehensive center for people struggling with homelessness.  Contact our community development team to schedule a tour.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Room In The Inn

Room In The Inn is in its 28th season of providing shelter for the homeless in area congregations. 180 congregations are participating, representing Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, the Churches of Christ, Episcopal, Catholic, Adventist, Lutheran, evangelical, Jewish, Unitarian, Disciples of Christ, Congregationalist, Nazarene, African Methodist Episcopal, and nondenominational communities. All come together to provide the grace of hospitality under the common theme of God's unconditional love for all people, especially the poor and dispossessed.

Room In The Inn is a simple concept addressing a complex problem. It starts with building relationships of trust and respect in an atmosphere of non-violence. It believes in the power of love offered in one-to-one encounters with one another.

Because so many new people have arrived in the Nashville area since Room In The Inn's inception in 1986, it may be helpful to discuss what Room In The Inn is not and what it is. Then, perhaps, more new volunteers and congregations will want to become involved.

Room In The Inn is not an attempt to resolve all of the issues of the homeless. The problems are too deep and too personal.

Room In The Inn is not a program where a congregation takes one or more homeless people "under wing," providing them with economic assistance, job training, and personal spiritual direction. These gifts can be offered in time as relationships develop.

Room In The Inn is not about establishing another large shelter downtown where hundreds of people are cared for nightly.

And it is not about boards of directors or major fund-raising campaigns for capital projects. 

What is it?

Room In The Inn is a way for more people to understand the problems of the homeless by becoming directly involved with people who are homeless.

Room In The Inn is a means through which congregations of every faith open their facilities to welcome 12-15 homeless people as guests on cold winter nights.

Room In The Inn is about changing people, guests and hosts alike. It creates the opportunity for the guests to learn that there are people who care and for the hosts to come to understand that the faceless figure on the street corner is more than a statistic and that there are solutions.

Room In The Inn is about serving without prejudice or pride. It is about accepting everyone.

Room In The Inn is not about giving; it is about receiving. It is about everyone, both guests and hosts, receiving a blessing-- an encounter with God in the midst of suffering, hardship, pain and grief.

Room In The Inn is an opportunity, not an answer. It is an experience, not a solution. In short, Room In The Inn is an opportunity to experience the presence of God in a different way.

Finally, Room In The Inn gets its name from a story in the Bible about a family coming to Bethlehem and not finding any room in the inn. We cannot go back in history 2,000 years and change that story. But what we can do in Nashville each evening we are open is to change that story’s ending by providing room in the inn. 

As 200 plus people come every night for shelter, we often change that story’s ending. The colder it gets, the more we fail. Despite over 30,000 nights of shelter offered last winter, there were many nights when we turned away between 80-100. Despite 180 congregations participating—a priceless gift to our community—there are many congregations that are not. Please consider helping out in your congregation or, better still, trying to recruit other congregations to be involved. It will change your life.