My heart is filled to overflowing with gratitude for what is now underway at Nashville Peacemakers, and excitement over what lies ahead in 2018! Our Back to Basics girls made me proud on Martin Luther King Day by waking at the crack of dawn to volunteer at the second annual 5K 4 MLK (run/walk) benefitting the scholarship fund of Amy Grant’s Barefoot Republic Camp. I am further pleased to report that their selfless efforts are being rewarded with four full scholarships to attend the camp this summer. In less than three weeks, this same “sisterhood” of girls will begin their own training for the Nashville Diaper Dash 5k & Diaper Drive, with support from a discretionary grant from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
Our next Straight Talk session for boys is ready for rollout on Feb. 25 with the commitment of nine adult male volunteers and the leadership of board member William Green, a trainer with the Tennessee Department of Human Services and an inspirational counselor, life coach and recovery expert. And the survivors in our Mothers Over Murder (M.O.M.) support group, through the magic of photography, are about to be digitally reunited with their lost loved one.
Challenges have also emerged to test our resolve. Rental fees for the space housing our office and programming space are going up in Q2 an additional $700 per month, and we are still looking for regular donors to cover the unexpected expense. As some of you already know, I have also personally been confronting some serious medical issues. A heart transplant is my next best option. I was born 58 years ago, to alcoholic parents, with what my doctors call “broken heart syndrome.” But this has only served to strengthen my connection to, and unconditional love for, those who are in other ways brokenhearted.
It was a frightening day for me and others nearby in early December when my defibrillator, installed in 2016 to keep my heart beating normally, was triggered by the arctic temperatures at a candlelight vigil for a 17-year-old murder victim. The alarm, while untimely and sounding a lot like a gunshot, brought me the lifesaving news that my weak heart needs mending. This does not mean I’ll be stepping down as CEO, but it will require me to step back for a bit and rely more on others. Nashville Peacemakers has a devoted group of board members and volunteers making miracles happen every day, and I am appreciative beyond words for their love, support and many hospital visits over the past few months. You’re in good hands with any one of them, but …
I’d like to send a big, joyful shout-out to Deirdre Nicole—aka “Clemmie 2.0”—as our newly installed community relations director, a role perfectly suited to her can-do attitude against seemingly insurmountable odds. Read on for more about that, and other current happenings, and please, please mark your calendar for the Big Payback happening on May 2. We hope you will consider directing your giving to our grassroots cause, where every last dollar truly makes a difference.
Happy Valentine’s Day,
Founder & CEO