This past week saw record-breaking weather conditions in Nashville. The snow, ice and frigid temps caused Tennessee's governor to declare a State of Emergency, and our Mayor urged drivers to exercise extreme caution, or, better yet, stay home. As would be expected, these severe conditions had a disproportionate impact on Nashville's most vulnerable populations: the chronically homeless, the food-insecure households, our elderly residents and those who've recently returned to our community from incarceration and seek jobs and housing.
In the face of this crisis, there have been inspiring stories of compassion, good will and smart choices. Nashville nonprofits had volunteers on the street all week canvassing for homeless people. Shelters and some faith communities stretched their capacities in order to make more beds available to more people for more nights. Project Return defied the City's behest to stay home, simply because our clients kept coming to our office, determined to move forward with their new beginnings regardless of temporary weather conditions. Administrators and staff of Nashville's public school system came in on snow days to figure out how to rush food to their tens of thousands of food-insecure households, whose children would normally get most of their nutrition through school.
Good will, and compassionate and smart choices, such as we experienced in the past week, characterizes Nashville in a crisis. Certainly it alleviated an undeniably dire situation for some marginalized folks in Nashville. Now, though, the snow is melting, temps are rising and roads are clearing. And our schools will still have a student body that predominantly lives in poverty. Nashville will still be wrestling with chronic homelessness that is exacerbated by "It City" status. Formerly incarcerated men and women will still be turned away from housing and jobs, shut out over and over again from opportunity, because of their past. For many Nashville residents, every day is a State of Emergency. Out of the ice and into the thaw, we look for compassionate solutions and the smart, hard work of 24/7 good will across our community.