Throughout the upcoming weeks our 2017-2018 JLN Leadership will be visiting our partner agencies. Read below for more information on their visits and stay tuned for more updates!
by Taryn Anderson, Executive Vice President
JLN Leadership visited Book‘em on Monday, July 17th to meet with Executive Director, Melissa Spradlin. The Junior League of Nashville partners with Book‘em’s Reading is Fundamental program, where JLN volunteers distribute and read books to elementary classrooms five times a year. Each visit, the children in the classroom are able to pick out their own book, which for some might be the first book they have ever owned, to help start their personal library in a classroom that is sponsored by Book‘em.
Book ‘em’s work is so important as in middle income neighborhoods the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1, but in low-income neighborhoods the ratio is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children.*
Last year Book’em was able to give away 78,000 books!
With many Metro classrooms on the wait list, it only takes $500 to sponsor a classroom for the whole entire year.
* Newman, Susan B. and David K. Dickinson, ed. Handbook of Early Literacy Research, Volume 2. 2006
On Wednesday, August 2nd, President Krystal Clark, Executive Vice President Taryn Anderson and Active Director Katherine Miller met with Youth Villages Development Manager, Lyndsay Wilkinson, for a tour of Youth Villages. Youth Villages is a national nonprofit providing local solutions for emotionally and behaviorally troubled children and their families. In middle Tennessee, the programs available are Intercept, Foster Care, Adoption, Group Homes, YVLifeset and Specialized Crisis Services.
The JLN Leadership team learned the ways in which Youth Villages is providing step by step assistance for those in need. Most of the children they serve in their residential living/group homes are from 11-17. While in the Youth Villages program, they learn employment prep, college prep and receive assistance getting scholarships from potential vocational schools or colleges.
The Junior League of Nashville volunteers with the females at the Wallace Group Home. Currently, Youth Village is serving 8 teenage girls from 14 to 17 years of age. The girls are all in state custody and transition between their biological homes and foster care placement. They will typically stay at the Wallace Home for 2-6 months and while at Youth Villages they attend school, have mentors and participate in after-school activities; some even work part-time! The JLN volunteers are so fortunate to get to spend time with and help mentor these young women. But, unfortunately, the Junior League is only able to assist the young women; there are still a lot of males that need mentors as well.
Contact Lyndsay Wilkinson at Lyndsay.Wilkinson@youthvillages.org, if you know of any men who are willing to become mentors.
End Slavery Tennessee
JLN President Krystal Clark, Executive Vice President Taryn Anderson, President-Elect Jennifer Hillen and Managing Director Amy Smotherman paid a visit to Derri Smith, Founder and CEO of End Slavery Tennessee, on July 25th. JLN leadership were able to see the incredibly meaningful work being done by the staff and the organization as a whole. Their work is a great reminder of why we need people and groups like End Slavery Tennessee.
At a time when there are more slaves than any other time in history, human trafficking is a problem that we are facing in the Nashville community. Slavery can take the form of forced labor, services, or sex slavery, and a sex slave can be sold up to 10, 20 or more times in one day.
End Slavery Tennessee is providing the tools necessary for readjustment into society for those who have been trafficked through providing counseling, job training and more. Executive Director Derri Smith showed JLN the artwork on the wall done by the survivors. Each piece of art tells a story. One of the stories Derri told was about a beautiful painting of a heart. A survivor told Derri how broken she was, but after working with End Slavery she feels like her heart is on the mend and that she’s able to start hoping for the future.
Nashville Public Library
JLN President Krystal Clark, Executive Vice President Taryn Anderson, Treasurer Whitney Goetz, and Active Director Kristin Torrey met with Shawn Bakker, Nashville Public Library Foundation President, at the downtown Nashville Public Library branch. The Nashville Public Library has been redefining what their place in the community is, creating programs to meet the community needs and partnering with other nonprofits around town.
One of the programs Shawn discussed was the library’s digital learning center. Shawn shared that one woman was in dire need of an email account so that she could get in touch with her children’s teachers, so the digital learning center helped with just that!
A few of the NPL’s programs include, Adult Literacy, Be Well, Puppet Truck, Computer Classes, Job Labs, Limitless Libraries, Nashville After Zone Alliance, Pathway for New America’s, Seed Exchange, Studio, Bringing Books to Life and the famous marionette shows!
Preston Taylor Ministries
JLN President Krystal Clark and Executive Vice President Taryn Anderson met with Chan Sheppard, Preston Taylor Ministries’ Director to tour the Preston Taylor Ministries facility and learn more about the programs offered there.
Founded in 1998, Preston Taylor Ministries was formed to confront problems present in the Preston Taylor public housing area, including drug use, gang involvement, teenage pregnancy, illiteracy, poor school performance and crime.
Preston Taylor Ministries programs include mentoring, after school programs for kids of all ages, dream pursuit, health/wellness, and summer programs all incorporating empowerment of youth and discovering their life through God.
Surrounded by spectacular wall art, the JLN Leadership team were able to explore the impact that Preston Taylor Ministries programs make on its community by building and cultivating relationships.
McNeilly Center for Children
On Tuesday, July 11th, JLN President Krystal Clark, Executive Vice President Taryn Anderson and Board member Katherine Lay Miller visited the McNeilly Center for Children, one of Middle Tennessee’s largest providers of quality child care for low-income families, to meet with Nelda Fulghum, Interim Executive Director and Shellie Fossick, Development Director. McNeilly Center provides a need-based financial “scholarship” program based on a sliding scale for families and support services to help parents strengthen their parenting skills, thus assisting families in solving problems, in addition to a providing a quality education.
As the JLN leadership team arrived, they were greeted by the McNeilly Center “Foster Grandmothers” leaving the center with big smiles, laughter and lots of talk about the hot sun. The tour began with the baby room filled with adorable babies. Some were sleeping, but a few were awake and ready to take on the day! The tour included most of the classrooms which were colorfully decorated and full of books, puppets and characters. In one of the older classrooms they had BUNNIES! McNeilly grows their own bunny food and have little gardens surrounding the grounds. The bunnies help teach the students lessons of responsibility and the importance of nurturing animals and each other.
Additionally, the Nashville Predators had just donated some hockey equipment to add to the climbing wall which keeps the kids entertained and active when it’s raining outside.
McNeilly Center takes care of children, providing them education and care, while their parents are at work or attending school. JLN is honored to partner with such a worthwhile agency.
JLN President Krystal Clark, Executive Vice-President Taryn Anderson, and Board member Kristin Torrey visited the Oasis Center last week and met with Oasis Center’s President and CEO, Tom Ward. Tom shared many stories about the work Oasis Center does and the impact they have on Middle Tennessee families and youth.
One of their many programs is the Bike Workshop. One volunteer had the idea to take one of the Oasis teens out for a bike ride one day, only to realize that none of the kids had bikes, a privilege often taken for granted. Through the Bike Workshop, Oasis allows the youth to go into a big room full of bikes (pictured above). Most of the kids will run to bikes that are pretty much fixed or look completely finished (thinking they won’t have to do much work) only to find out that they have to take the bike completely apart… down to the frame..
They then build the bike from the frame up, where they also learn about safety and maintenance of their bike. At the end of the build they have a fully built bike, helmet, locks, lights, and a toolkit for their bike, but more importantly they have benefited from working alongside a mentor that helped them build that bike. Tom said that the real value and the real magic that happens is the development of a relationship/friendship with the adults who work with the teens during the process.