In the heart of Nashville, two organizations found a need to provide a safe environment for their youth to escape their troubles and enjoy being a child. Both Sophia’s Heart and the Family Reconciliation Center have fulfilled this need with grant money received from the Nashville Predators Foundation in 2014.
After being used for months for flood relief work in 2010, an old hospital building in East Nashville was donated to Sophia’s Heart to continue reaching those without a home. Today, the organization, led by Clifton Harris, uses the renovated facility to house homeless families for up to a year.
“We try to break the cycle of homelessness,” Harris said. “Currently, we are hosting seven families who need a place to stay.”
In addition to housing, Sophia’s Heart offers job and life-skills training in hopes the families will graduate the program with self-sufficiency and permanent housing of their own. The children have access to tutoring and counseling programs.
With the money received from the 2014 grant, the organization renovated a room specifically for children’s play therapy.
“Our kids have heavy things to unpack,” Harris said. “This room provides them a safe place to do it in a healthy way.”
Each child receiving therapy is provided a personal therapist. According to Harris, the relationship developed between the child and therapist is fostered through the tools, resources and toys supplied in the brightly painted room. Each therapy session is a step toward breaking the cycle.
In West Nashville, Dr. Malinda Davenport-Crisp seeks to break down the emotional barrier of prison walls with her non-profit organization, the Family Reconciliation Center. The organization reconnects the broken relationships of families with their incarcerated loved ones. During the reentry phase back into the home, the Family Reconciliation Center supports the relationships from grandparents, spouses, friends and in particular, children.
“These kids are beautiful people,” Davenport-Crisp said. “Eighty percent of children with incarcerated parents tend to follow in their parents’ footsteps. This place gives them a safe environment to change that statistic.”
With this vision, the Family Reconciliation Center received grant money to design a teen room to be used for tutoring, youth-oriented activities and counseling sessions.
“We have a therapist who provides counseling sessions in the teen room for our kids,” Davenport-Crisp said. “Many of the kids have similar stories, but they all handle them differently. Our new teen room offers them a time to share with our therapist and confide in one another.”
Representatives from the Predators Foundation witnessed first-hand the impact the newly renovated facilities are having on a wide range of youth in Nashville. Children from Sophia’s Heart shared laughter and enthusiasm while teenagers from the Family Reconciliation Center were encouraged to bravely share pieces of their stories.
Both organizations belong to a group of 117 who received a 2014 grant from the Nashville Predators Foundation. The Foundation strives to meet the educational, social, health and cultural needs of the community by offering unique resources and financial support to local youth-oriented organizations.
For more information about the Predators Foundation, visit www.nashvillepredators.com/foundation.