Allen Johnston, co-chair of the Room In the Inn homeless shelter program at Christ United Methodist Church, drove through ice and snow last night to transport 14 Nashville men without shelter to the church to stay for the next three days due to extreme temperatures.
Lows are expected to reach the single digits tonight and even dip into sub-zero temperature by Thursday evening, in addition to the ice and snow already accumulated.
Meanwhile, workers at Room In the Inn in Nashville and its 190 satellite congregations are fighting to find placements for those without shelter.
CUMC, and Johnston, have partnered with the Room In The Inn since 1986 by providing shelter and warm meals for 12 men, women and children each Thursday.
Room In the Inn, which has a campus located in downtown Nashville, is comprised of almost 200 congregations in Middle Tennessee with over 6,000 volunteers, that work together to shelter almost 1,400 men and women from Nov. 1 through March 31 each year.
Johnston received word earlier this week that almost 20 churches around the city cancelled their participation in the program this week due to worsening road conditions.
However, Johnston and the church instead offered to house 14 men for three days due to the increased need at this time across the city and as a way to have a home base without treking back into the ice and snow.
The church usually provides shelter to 12 homeless individuals one day a week.
“We have such wonderful guests staying with us,” Johnston said. “They are very appreciative and said that they wanted to give back to the church. They offered to shovel the church parking lot and clear the driveway.”
Johnston said that he is glad to be part of the program for so many years at the church.
“We are supposed to be helping them, but really they are helping us.”
Johnston said that he enjoys learning about the men’s stories and providing nourishment and shelter on their journeys.
Church volunteers will provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for the men. The guests will also have an opportunity to shower onsite and wash clothes using laundry facilities. Television, games and fellowship will also occupy the guests’ time during their stay.
According to Melanie Barnett, community development director at Room In the Inn in Nashville, about 200 to 300 homeless individuals have been placed at satellite congregation sites each day this week. The Room In the Inn guesthouse, in addition, sleeps about 110 downtown.
During extreme weather conditions, Room In The Inn works in conjunction with the city of Nashville through an emergency cold weather plan. The city even opened an emergency overflow shelter at the Fairgrounds in Nashville this week.
“We are thankful and proud of the city’s effort and thankful for congregations like Christ United Methodist that are helping us by providing a safe place for people – day and night.”
Temperatures are expected to rise into the 40s on Friday.
To find out more information about Room In the Inn, visit www.roomintheinn.org.