In early 2014, Catholic Charities' North Nashville Outreach (NNO) program moved from its Buchanan Street "store front" location to the C. E. McGruder Family Resource Center (FRC) on 25th Avenue North, a short distance away.
The move, according to Megan Stack Emerson, director of the Family Assistance and Community Employment (FACE) department, was made for several reasons. As she explained in a March 2014 Tennessee Register interview, it would enhance "the full package of services available to the community."
"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," she continued.
On July 1st, Catholic Charities of Tennessee's involvement with the McGruder FRC took on a new level of responsibility, as the agency was named the FRC's lead organization by United Way of Metropolitan Nashville. Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools is also a major partner of the McGruder FRC.
"The lead organization's role is to work with partner organizations, businesses in the community, and faith based partners in the community to meet the needs of residents in the area where the FRC is located," explained Emerson.
The McGruder FRC sits in the heart of North Nashville and is positioned to be "a beacon of hope for individuals and families living in the area defined by the 37208 zip code," according to Alisha Haddock, FRC director.
"United Way, working with Catholic Charities, seeks to be a part of the solution, working alongside the residents, strengthening the community, and inspiring hope," added John Michael Ford, manager of Family Resource Centers for United Way of Metropolitan Nashville. "The McGruder FRC is where community partners can collectively address some of the most pressing issues facing individuals and families in the area."
Key areas of focus include: Basic Needs/Safety Net, Economic Mobility, and Community Culture.
"The McGruder FRC is committed to increasing the wellbeing of children and families," continued Haddock. "It is a partnership of health and social service providers, residents, schools, businesses and faith-based organizations, all working together to build on the strengths and address the needs of the neighborhood."
"By locating services close to home, the center makes help more accessible. By offering a coordinated and holistic approach to providing services and support, the center eliminates duplication of effort on the part of residents and service providers. By focusing on the strengths and assets of the people who live, work and go to school in the neighborhood McGruder helps build community."
Last year, McGruder FRC community partners served nearly 4000 individuals. Generally, the clients were from low to low/moderate income households. Approximately 80% were African American.
Today's thirteen community partners, including Catholic Charities' North Nashville Outreach initiative, provide services at the FRC. The other twelve are: Tennessee Department of Children's Services, Mid-Cumberland Child Care Resource & Referral, Assurance Wireless, National Council on Aging, Nashville Food Project, Nashville Cultural Arts Project, YMCA, The Little Pantry, Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center, MIHOW, Nashville Public Library, Free Hears, and Nashville Career Advancement Center.
Haddock sees great potential for the McGruder FRC, but first, she and a strategic planning team which has been formed have some work to do.
"The strategic planning committee will work over the next year to redesign what service delivery looks like at the McGruder FRC for family, youth, adults, and the community," she explained. "We will be meeting basic needs for short term stabilization, laying a foundation for youth for empowered future attainment, building skills to increase work opportunities and earning power for adults and fostering positive community identity, stewardship, and relationships."
"Residents of North Nashville could benefit from transformational workforce opportunities for youth and adults to assist in breaking the cycle of generational poverty. The McGruder FRC is well positioned to partner with organizations capable of delivering these services. Working together, partners will map a strategy full of vision and hope for the future."
The FRC's is open Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (with occasional evening hours for special programming activity) and Saturday 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. It is located at 2013 25th Avenue North (37208). For more information, call (615) 291-4513.