Catholic Charities Expands Outreach Through New Locations, Partnership
Since 1981, Catholic Charities' North Nashville Outreach Program has provided temporary and emergency material assistance for residents of North Nashville. The program strives to meet the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing, and offers case management services, including, when needed, referrals to other community service providers.
This past February, the North Nashville Outreach program moved to a new space at the C.E. McGruder Family Resource Center at 2015 25th Ave. Although the move did not garner the program additional space - in fact, the total square footage is a bit less - it opened up other possibilities.
"The most significant element resulting from the move is the opportunity it gave us to solidify our relationship with 15 other agencies located at the McGruder FRC that are also serving the North Nashville community," said Megan Stack, Family Assistance and Community Employment Department Director for Catholic Charities. "In doing this, we are enhancing the full package of services available to the community."
North Nashville Outreach has only had two homes in its 30-year existence. After outgrowing its original location at Assumption Church, the program moved to Buchanan Street in 2005. Although that location worked well, there was a strong desire for the program to be closer in proximity to other service providers to combine resources and enhance service options.
Fortuitously, the Outreach program was approached about inhabiting space at the C. E. McGruder FRC by United Way of Metropolitan Nashville and the Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center, the McGruder FRC's lead agency.
The McGruder FRC is part of United Way's network of Family Resource Centers, which are meant to be a community "one-stop-shop" for health and human service needs in neighborhoods, particularly neighborhoods with residents that face barriers to leading stable, healthy and productive lives. These barriers include high poverty rates, high rates of unemployment and under-employment, low academic achievement and high levels of crime, teen pregnancy and single-parent households.
The move will still allow the North Nashville Outreach to serve residents of the 37208 zip code - one of Davidson County's most economically challenged areas - and will actually broaden its clientele to residents of 37218, 37228, and part of 37203 zip codes.
|Volunteers from the Nashville Predators front office helped move file cabinents from the old Catholic Charities North Nashville Outreach office on Buchanan Street to the nearby McGurder Family Resource Center when Catholic Charities relocated offices last month.|
"Tracye Henderson, site director for the McGruder FRC, has indicated to us that, surprisingly, our clients are generally complementary to the FRC's existing clients," said Stack. "Our moving in is expected to increase the FRC's total traffic count. The benefit of this for the community is greater exposure to all of the services provided at the FRC, including the ‘new' services our North Nashville Outreach program has brought on board."
The transition will also provide a boost to Catholic Charities' young but growing job training program, OutSOURCE ReSOURCE, which provides light manufacturing and assembly outsourcing services for Nashville-area businesses and nonprofit organizations.
"We will be exposed to more area residents who are interested in the bridge employment, typically 90 to 120 days, we can offer and moving on to more significant permanent employment opportunities," said Stack.
This has been an exciting time for Catholic Charities. In addition to the North Nashville move to a new home and its expanding partnership with area social service agencies, a brand new Catholic Charities led Family Resource Center has opened in South Nashville at 4928 Edmondson Pike, representing a partnership with Saint Thomas Health and United Way of Metropolitan Nashville.
The Saint Thomas Family Health Center South, South Nashville FRC's new next door neighbor, has been a vital fixture in the area for almost 10 years.
"We will be collaborating with the Saint Thomas Family Health Center South in order to work with our clients to enhance each individual's and each family's health outlook," said Stack. "Working with nutritionists, for example, we will be able to assemble emergency food boxes specifically designed to meet a specific set of health conditions. If someone should be on a low salt diet, for example, a food box can be assembled with components addressing that condition."
Beyond health and nutrition resources, a computer lab will assist job seekers, English language learners, and others seeking to further their education. Future plans include Food Stamp education and enrollment assistance, Immigration Services assistance and emergency material assistance.
In addition, Catholic Charities' Refugee Services program will use the new FRC for some of its programming, like the Refuge Handicrafts initiative, which provides refugee women with an income earning opportunity by using their talents and skills to produce handcrafted goods made from donated materials. The hope is that Refugee Services will eventually offer ESL, financial literacy and health-focused programs.
"Finally, we have also been contacted by other agencies about their sharing some of our space," Stack said. "These complementary services would further enhance the package of services available to the community, similar to what is happening through the McGruder FRC."
Another major initiative is an expanded Maternal Infant Health Outreach program (MIHOW), which will allow Catholic Charities to partner with the Saint Thomas Family Health Center South and Vanderbilt University's School of Nursing. MIHOW is a peer mentoring program designed to improve health and optimize child development in low income communities.
Having Saint Thomas Health, United Way of Metropolitan Nashville and Catholic Charities consolidate resources for the South Nashville FRC is a huge development. "The collaboration of these three organizations is quite significant," said Stack. "John Michael Ford, Family Resource Centers manager for United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, has explained that our FRC is being built on a ‘focused delivery' model, which brings together community funding, corporate support and service providing expertise.
"This is a highly successful model which is gaining acceptance and increased use around the country," continued Stack. "It is truly a community collaboration addressing many aspects of life which, if not properly addressed, can contribute to continuing the cycle of poverty."
For more information about North Nashville Outreach, call (615) 242-1554 or visit www.cctenn.org/services/basic-needs/north-nashville. For more information about the South Nashville Family Resource Center contact Catholic Charities site director, Leslie Hayes, at (615) 878-5326 or firstname.lastname@example.org.