Serving plate of food

Providing Nashville with help and hope

Room in the Inn delivers meals, hot showers, housing and other vital support to keep vulnerable community members safe

Room in the Inn is a vibrant community center offering meals, support services and dozens of job training classes for individuals experiencing homelessness in Nashville, Tennessee. The people behind that effort do it with a focus on community, a strong sense of empathy and an abundance of friendship.

They also think a lot about safety. During the pandemic, daily gatherings at Room in the Inn were replaced by curbside tent service that allowed those in need to sign up for a shower, drop off their laundry, pick up over-the-counter medications or see if they had received mail at the center’s address. Portable toilets and hand-washing stations were set up outside.

“A large part of what we do is nurturing relationships,” says Melanie Barnett, director of community development. “Room in the Inn’s unofficial motto is ‘Love Your Neighbor, Y’all,’ and that spirit has never waned. “We’re not just serving those in need, we’re in the community with those in need,” says Barnett. “That makes all the difference.”

We’re not just serving those in need, we’re in the community with those in need.
Melanie Barnett  |  director of community development, Room in the Inn

The pandemic also meant that food donations decreased as restaurants closed, and operating costs went up in order to maintain social distancing protocols. Lower capacity limits for Room in the Inn’s housing programs put government reimbursements at risk, further straining a relatively tight budget. A $50,000 grant from long-time partner Bank of America was vital to continuing support for daily visitors in a manner that underlines dignity and compassion.

As Room in the Inn adjusted to providing support in new ways, it has also kept an eye on how it can continue to do so in a post-pandemic world. That effort continues. “We are still looking at how we can make sure everyone has a place to stay,” says Barnett. “They deserve that.”

Bank of America is committed to supporting nonprofits dedicated to addressing evolving needs in their local communities. Learn more about our philanthropic commitment to equality and economic opportunity.


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