Compassion: How Heather Young serves homeless friends in Nashville, TN
Heather young is my guest today on bridges and she will let us know how her work in downtown Nashville all started with the college welcome to British I’m Monica schmelter and I’m glad that you could join us today my guest is Heather young and she works in downtown Nashville saw a need and by faith wanted to fill that needs I’m excited for you to hear her story today Heather good to have you thank you for having me today it’s so good to meet you so I’m always interested when I hear somebody say well you know it all started with a car – what does that mean so I used to work downtown in Nashville and on my lunch break I would walk around and I just saw our house community and I saw how large it was down there so what I would do is I would take a little teacher car and I would fill it with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and water and I would walk on my lunch break and I got to know some of our unhoused and had many conversations but I would just walk the streets of Nashville with my little cart and so that I did that for a few miles were you scared to do that no no no I just had faith and I just knew that God was with me but it was important that these people were were seen and heard and just having conversation just here’s a sandwich here’s some water let’s talk so if I’m understanding you right you were really going downtown Nashville for like a regular day kind of job I did I had a day job a day job and so on your lunch hour you walk around and you see people and you’re using the term unhoused which a lot of people would say homeless so unhoused you see these people you see the need and so you get a cart and you fill it with anything like that and so you weren’t scared but you just started handing them out yes I would just go up to people and say hi I’m Heather I’d love to be able to give you a sandwich what’s your name let’s talk and I would just sit down with them and and have conversations and that’s how I started building my relationships with them and then I started no I started asking where does everybody go you know I see you here and you’re here where does the community tend to reside and so we were told that by the public library so what I started doing then on Saturdays is I got a car table and I filled up the car table with coffee and with peanut and jelly sandwiches oh so and you probably didn’t have to go downtown on Saturday us doing that because you see this need and you know that God loves all of us and you want to meet the need has has the unhoused community has that been a concern on your heart for years so since I was a little girl I when I’m from up north and so when you go into New York City and to the bus station and it just was one of those things that I would see it and some people can walk away and say that’s sad but they keep on going where it just kept tugging at my heart I have to do something I have to do something and then when I was a senior in high school we went to the Atlantic City rescue mission and I saw the need and it affected me in the way that I have to do something but I kept saying but God I’m only one person how could I possibly do this and so it’s always been a tugging and it’s always been a desire of my heart and to think it was just a dream like I would love to be able to do this as a non-profit and it was just a dream that God had really brought to light for me and now you do have an honor we are in a photo for him all for him minister yes so the ministry is all for him and is something that birthd really out of a concern and Heather’s heart for the unhoused community and I want to of course to talk about the ministry and how you build relationships but I thought Heather that it might be good today because I shared with you you said Atlantic City rescue mission so I worked at the Detroit rescue mission my first job out of college and I really felt that God called me there and it opened my eyes to a lot of things you know that I had thought and I found out that I was wrong you know for example I would think to myself as a young college graduate when somebody talked about the unhoused I would think well you know go get a job so then when I came face to face with people instead of just people that were labeled homeless that people didn’t have addresses they didn’t have phones they didn’t have clean clothes they never got a good night’s sleep because they’re out in the city of Detroit cold and you’re afraid could you talk about maybe some of the misconceptions that we have as people who have homes and apartments and trailers we have shelter and so we’re not aware what the need looks like absolutely and just to share off of you is that’s the common question again well if they wanted to get a job they could get a job and as you experience it is not that easy yeah a lot of them do have mental illness that is you know a it can be an hinder but there’s some that I know that work two jobs that still can’t afford to get there and back to your your thing on that is that you have to have an address so you can’t use a PA box you have to have a phone you have to have clean clothes you have to be able to get a good night’s rest and if they call and say hey could you like to interview they have to have that phone to do that so and then it goes back to the ID you have to have an ID you have to have a birth certificate that cost money if you don’t have that so people don’t tend to look at the factors that you just can’t go get a job and you can’t just go to McDonald’s and get a job there is so many factors and that’s where we really try to educate people that you know everybody is one paycheck away a lot of the people that we have on there is at one bad hospital bill one bad loss of job it could be anything and and some of it is drug addiction you know but everybody’s got their story and I think the important thing is that I really want to get across everybody is everybody’s got a story and you got to love them where they are and if some of them want to get a job that’s our job is to help them find it we do provide uniform so if we know what your uniform is we will provide that for you and we also will try to help you get to your interview or we’ve done IDs for people so that will help them we’ve helped some people try to get into rehab and that definitely was a difficulty but those are things that we’re gonna try to do for you but that is definitely the biggest typical you know people say oh they’re just they’re just a drunk they’re gonna do don’t don’t give them any money because they’re gonna go waste on an alcohol you don’t know their story right and I look at it as what you you know you give from your heart what’s on what they do is on them but absolutely it is and I’ve always believed that you know I I don’t see anywhere in scripture where I’m supposed to figure out if that person is truly deserving or not absolutely I’m not reckless I don’t go hand out money but you know there are times that you know an electric bill or something needs to be paid I can pay that directly to the company I can give food there’s something that we can all do we’re all loved by God exactly and you know in my work in the rescue mission I came to this place to understand that everybody’s just not job ready and that even if somebody was never gonna be job ready say due to mental illness or maybe even a disability you know we still have a responsibility to love them God loves them as much as he loves us absolutely and that sometimes the reason that we don’t end up on the house is because we have a family member that would take us in or loan us money or pay the rent or help us out and sometimes people don’t have that support system so you’ve had this burden this concern since you’ve been really young and now you’ve got this nonprofit tell me what you’ve learned and have you been able to really make a difference in anybody’s life just yet I’ve learned so much God has just he has blessed me with this nonprofit I have the best team I have the best volunteers that just gives so much of their heart to come the one thing that I think I’ve learned is you you know we say you love people where they are but you literally have to you’ve got to live it you’ve got to walk it the one thing you know we do serve on Sundays because we found that there was a need on Sunday mornings so I said well let’s go be the church that’s what we do and we pray before we start we pray during it we pray after it but the thing that I’ve just learned is that people are people and it’s not our job to decide that you’re worthy of it you’re not it’s and our job is to love every single one of them and we’ve had stories where literally I’ve gone home with no shoes one of my team members have got helping those shoes we had a situation a few weeks ago where was pouring rain and one of our guys was freezing and we changed his socks and we put a tarp around him a couple of my guys did and I threw the clothes over so we can put some warm clothes on him and someone just said you know well he he only does his drugs my job is not to judge him my job is to love him and pray that someone will come and give him that God and said he needs well I just think sometimes you know if you are out there in the elements who’s to say that we wouldn’t choose drugs yep you know we can think oh I would just never do that I would never do that I would never do that and we just don’t know when the pressure you know we just don’t know I think about how sad and how hopeless it would be to be out in the elements every single day and I’m sure you understand I’m not saying that doing drugs that’s right I’m just saying that you don’t know until you in that situation nope we need to love people because God loves them as much as he loves us now all these things that you’re doing like they all take money how do you get the money to do I know you’ve probably funded the first peanut-butter-and-jelly soon it definitely was a lot of blood sweat and tears but we really depend on donations and so many people have come forward what can I do I want to help I want to be a part of this I’ve had people just show up so I followed you on Facebook and now I just want to be here so we have a lot of people that just stump in but we really you know work on social medias for if we have a need we try to do fundraisers we are really praying for a van right now because right now all of our stuff is in six vehicles so when we load up every week it’s always in someone else’s car so we’re really praying for a vehicle and I know that God’s gonna give it to us but literally it’s all donations and and people we all kind of purchase stuff to make to make it work absolutely do what we have to do you get you know to get stuff our team we’ve had people that I’m the last two weeks that have gotten construction work jobs so we were able to purchase them boots for their job so it’s just things like that it’s some things that you know when we start school or get any job we know that hey I need to spruce up the Wardrobe hey so if somebody gets the job if it’s a construction job you need the right kind of shoes absolutely it’s key so that was the two things we had to cut to guys that needed it so we we made sure they had the shoes for the following week and we always just try to take the need you know what what is that and we go live every week so if we do have a need someone can hear that or hey we need this size jeans or so we really just try to really you know focus on that but there there is there’s so many amazing stories that we’ve had one lady her name was Miss Barbara she was one of the first ladies that we met when I first started doing this and she had some alcohol issues that we worked on and all that separated her from a different life was $250 because she was able to get section 8 housing so we actually donated that money we called the landlord we got it directly to him and then within two weeks a bunch of friends and I got together we got our bed some furniture we furnished her apartment and then for the next year and a half she spent every holiday with us and miss Barbara is just a ray of sunshine how is she 56 56 56 and it was her first bed in six years so when she laid down on her bed that day we all had tears because we take for granted that we get to lay in a bed first bed and she isn’t the issue so that definitely whoa and at 50 and at 56 years old I mean own in the floor to sleep night after night for six years to have no roof over your head no place to call home and now she’s back up and running and she was estranged from her family for a little bit and prayer time healing she is now back in the state with her family what are you minded and I was sad to lose her but her family gained her and so but when I sometimes it gets discouraging me out there because you really try but you have to remember those those kind of stories to remember that you know you can just get one that’s right and you’ve done it that’s why we’ve got to take a break stay with us when we come back we’re gonna talk more about the unhoused and all for him ministry you can purchase a copy of today’s show for $15 call us at six one five seven five four zero zero three nine or send a check to the address on the screen please in the program number on the screen today on bridges we have opened up the conversation to take a look at the unhoused community and what one woman decided to do as a result of the concern that she had in her heart so Heather young is my guest and so we’ve been talking about you know really that this is just been a concern a burden on your heart since you’ve been young and that you realize not everybody’s called to serve the unhoused but what is your prayer my prayer is and I’ll use the example we have a lot of children kids and high school kids that will come in and volunteer with us and I tell each of them I said I my prayer is that the serving the unhoused may not be your calling and that’s okay but my prayer is that you will look at these people through eyes of compassion and not judgement and I pray that next time that when you see one you’ll think of one of our one of our you know individuals because I think that it will change if you change your opinion you start young you can change a whole generation of how we look and how we treat people and we love them like Jesus and that’s my prayer through this that we can educate people that they’re people and it could be you it could be I you know it could be myself but it’s someone’s son it’s someone’s daughter that’s right and I think we need to remember that and when you see them on the street like they’re not they’re a human being right and they have a story and if you take the time and get to know them I promise you you there are some of the kindest most wonderful people you’ll ever meet but they are human beings and my prayer is that it starts with that and then we all got to jump in and we’ve got to help in some way because it is growing it’s getting bigger it’s a need but we have to love them and we’ve got to get out there and get out of our comfort zone huh and help and I always think you know Heather if someone thinks well that’s not safe for me to stop and talk or you know and and I don’t think anybody should not abide by what however they’re led absolutely don’t feel safe if you don’t feel comfortable if you don’t want to okay I understand that we get that but we can all pray absolutely we can all pray you know sometimes I’m going down the street I’m at an intersection there’s not really anything that I can do to stop and open up conversations but I can pray I can pray I can look at that person and say probably at one time in this person’s life they were loved by someone this might have been the child that mom or dad just doted over and due to a series of bad decisions wrong turns and you know sometimes decisions like just turn out so much worse than what we think you know I’ve made a lot of bad decisions I’m thankful you know that my life hasn’t ended up without shelter but that could have happened absolutely could have happened and does anybody care and would be anybody willing to do anything about that and yet you’ve taken on this concern and you’ve got people and volunteers and and all for him ministries is now and not-for-profit you mentioned that there was such a need on Sunday mornings would you tell me what Sunday morning looks like absolutely so we got there on Sunday about eight o’clock and they’re ever usually everybody is waiting for us one side of the street that has covering and if it’s not raining we’re on the other side but they know we’d built trust and for them they know that we will be down there no matter the weather and we proved it but we usually have about sixty to eighty two hundred people that will come out and literally like I said six cars will come because we are praying for our vehicle and we all literally the tables and and we get everything set up but we serve a lot of set up that’s how many minutes of setup because in the winter we offer coffee we offer hot chocolate in the summer we’ll do water in orange juice because we just try to really cater to that we always Panera in Lebanon donates our bagels so we’re thankful for that oh yeah team member that makes pancakes he makes 100 pancakes every week we try to do a hot meal like a casserole hot sandwiches sausage biscuits something worth it’s a good breakfast yeah and then we’ll we’ll have some snacks will have some granola bars we will do hygiene bags we do socks bombas has donated up 3000 socks to us this year so we’re very thankful so we’re spreading the love to other organizations along with our ourselves and then we also have clothing so we just really try to make sure that we hit the need and literally we have a volunteer go all the way down the table but it is nice that we try to do haircuts do so we do have a barber that will donate their time how nice matter it’s wonderful but it’s also feeding the soul and that’s where we pray before we start we pray one-on-one we bring our team members out we’ll pray whatever the need may be and then we wrap up as a group with our own house and we pray as we’re getting ready to leave have you had anyone respond in a spiritual way we did we had one individual where for six months they they had a lot of trust issues yeah and I don’t believe in God and and and so every week I was like I’m gonna pray for you I’m gonna pray for you yeah yeah Heather and someone had come down there one day and and said told them that they were gonna go to hell and I was like father God I did not work six months to build trust with this person to have someone come down and I said father put the words in my mouth and I said to her let me tell you something I said Jesus is gonna love you right where you are right now where you are and we were actually we’re able to pray together so that lady actually did me a favor of that day but you can’t everybody has situations and they’re not trusting right you can’t go down and start the fire in rumson you got to love them like Jesus would and that was that was one of our biggest stories because she didn’t trust us for so long right and she had to see what we were doing well you know the Bible says that it he says kindness that leads us to repentance it does not say us be mean and judgmental and there’s just something wrong about that whole spirit behind that like that people almost act happy like you’re gonna go to hell and they just feel really good about that there’s something wrong about that exactly and sometimes people are just looking for us to prove them wrong like sometimes when people say I don’t believe in God I don’t believe all that I don’t believe it I don’t that may be how they’re feeling at that moment but usually under that there’s a whole lot of hurt and they want us to prove them wrong exactly hey she had a lot of her time it doesn’t happen in a day it’s getting to know people it’s sharing the love of Christ it’s understanding that it is his kindness that leads us to repentance and so I’m so glad that you continued to pray and continued to reach out you’ve done so much with all for him you know really you’re just down there as with your day job and you notice these needs and so this God moves in this whole other way that’s so much like God but tell me what are your next plans so we would like to eventually go into Wilson County because there is such a great need yes they’re very much so and we have partnered with compassionate hands so they take the wintertime we’re going to take the summer so we can so they can still know they have a place to come to so we’re going to be able to provide food and clothing we are still working on a location on that but we’re not giving up because there is a need and so eventually what we would like to do is be able to take our van and go to where the need is so it may be Murfreesboro maybe Wilson County but we’re going to go where we’re needed we’re also working on weekend retreats once a month yeah tell me about the weekend retreat I thought that sounded like a great concept we had a when we had the flooding I had called an incredible pastor in Nashville and I said we have a need it’s gonna flood can we open up an emergency shelter we started this on Monday Friday we had everybody in the center it was by the grace of God we did it yeah and through conversation and prayer we came up with this idea of let’s have a weekend retreat for these on house once a month it’s something they can look forward to but this will give us a time to do you need it do you want a job what do we need to do what’s the step so we have a group here we have a group we’re gonna do arts and crafts some painting and maybe just just some time to pray rest but it gives them something to look forward to and if we can instill some sort of hope and and love in those weekends it you know who’s to say what we can do but that’s our plan starting in April right that sounds wonderful I mean I don’t think that we can underestimate the power of hope you know to change the course of someone’s day by you’re out in the elements all month long but this coming weekend you’re gonna get to stay the weekend inside yes and we’ve got these fun activities and these things that you know if you think about if you’re in the elements and you’re just looking for like a place to sleep and the next something to eat you don’t ever get to do anything fun and they may not change everything but it may change something but I think it’s also that people you know we treat it like a living room where you know we want you to be here get a shower relax there’s a hot meal but it just gives them that time – just to rest and to really rest and that’s what we noticed what that when we did the weekend shelter that people just were so exhausted and to see them rest and be thankful and one thing I do want to share is we had a couple guys that were so thankful to be able to spend the weekend there one of them clean the bathroom one of them swept the floor one of them took the trash out and that’s what I want people to see when we talk about the houses they were so grateful to have a place they cleaned we didn’t have to do anything so I think those are the stories you want I want people to know and but just they didn’t take that for granted and it was such a it was such a need that was that was mad because you know God made all of us to be productive we all do our best when we it doesn’t have to be like a job job I mean for some people it is but something constructive something that we participate that we contribute and that’s what I sure you saying is that we may have this judgment that the unhoused don’t want to give back that they don’t that they’re just looking for handouts debt we say all these things but you’re saying is you get to know people and as you work with the unhoused that’s just not true it’s not true everyone has a story and I think if you just take the time to have a conversation you will see most educated that want to help when we load up they’re the first ones there – what can we do how can we load up you know tell us how we can help pick up the trash when we stand there they’ll say you know you don’t use that kind of language in front of Miss Heather or orally but being very respectful of us and I think again that’s time and Trust that we built yeah and each week is different you know some weeks they’re a little wild but week after week they know we’re gonna be there and it’s the consistency that we’ve shown with them yeah and you know that’s one thing especially when a person has been hurt over and over again trust issues capsule insistency is everything did you ever imagine Heather that it would grow to the place that it is now never in my wildest dream it was always a prayer and and I just there’s some days I’m like I love my life and when I’m down there I just I get you know there’s times we all leave and we cry because we wish we could do more but the fact that we can just try to do what we can and my team is spread out and they everybody jumps in so it’s it’s multiplying and you see people’s I want to be a part of this and then it multiplies and it’s the ripple effect and it’s like it’s not just the one house that we’re helping but people are saying I have a purpose exactly exactly like we think sometimes that I’m going to go bless this person but we’re the ones being blessed absolutely the lessons I’m sure you feel that way absolutely and the one thing I do want to share that we take very seriously is we never film anybody or take cultures without permission and the reason being as I said you know if this was one of us would we want to be put on display so it’s it’s a respective if I give you a backpack I don’t need to show you the back with the backpack I need to just show the backpack I agree we don’t need to exploit people up so with our ministry that’s ridiculous actually and that’s the one thing we take pride in is never for once will I exploit someone for this organization and it’s a respect for you and the pictures we do have people have hungry too but never will I put someone out there for the sake of our organize I’m glad you said that we’re out of time thinking so Hamish thank you for having me we’re so glad that you could join us today on bridges I’ll be back in just a moment it takes training it takes discipline and so when you’re fighting that good fight of the faith you take your story whatever it is and you saturate it in faith and you fight for it visit Monica smelter calm to schedule Monica to speak at your next event as we talked about the unhoused community today on bridges I hope that it opened up the your eyes and the eyes of your heart to the needs that are present inside of our community and I know that we are not all called to do a ministry like Heather Young does with all for him but we are all called as followers of Christ to love everybody we are all called to do what we can jesus said whatever we do unto the least of these he said even if it’s a cup of cold water whatever we’ve done to the least of these it’s as if we have done it unto Him and so as we’re driving around in our neighborhoods or your downtown or wherever it may not always be possible for you to stop and buy someone a meal or give them some money but what is possible is that we can all pray we can all be a part of the solution it’s possible to contribute to the all for him ministry maybe to give coffee or hot chocolate or any of the things that they need but what we need to do is really heed the words of Jesus that is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves and the unhoused community they are our neighbors it is not our job to judge it’s not our job to ridicule it’s not our job to figure out who’s deserving or who’s worthy and who’s not it is our job to love it is our job to pray it is our job to reach out in whatever way that the Spirit of God would cause us to reach out and we can encourage ourself with the word of God that says you know when we give to the poor when we give to the needy the Bible says that is like lending to God and that God will always repay us or will bless us back so keep that in mind today when you see someone that might be in house we’re out of time we’ve got to go but we say goodbye and God bless you welcome to bridges I’m Monica Schmelter I’m glad that you could join us today all of these different people United on the same team praying for each other blessing each other and it was that hope and that faith is why I survived when my dad was preaching for a nuclear war and I don’t know what happens till I can’t believe it I was the first person who stood up and walked on there he gave me my first Bible and he opened a window in my life to Christian faith with Jesus Christ when you want the Lord to speak to you it’s like you don’t know what he’s going to tell you if will be just that one that could step up in faith to say god I just trust that you have better than this no one else can tell you what you need except God because He loves us we’re his children [Music]
On this episode of Bridges, Monica Schmelter sits down with Heather Young to talk about her ministry to the un-housed community of Nashville, Tennessee. Heather started All for Him Ministry with just a cart and some sandwiches on her lunch break. Heather shares how anyone can use what they have to make a difference.
- To find out more about All For Him Ministry, visit them online at: http://www.allforhimministry.org