Why We Do What We Do

By Shelters to Shutters Nashville Executive Director, Chris Smith

Brianna packed up her belongings in early 2020 and moved to Nashville, not really sure what was in store. She spent a couple of nights at a mission. Then the fine folks at the Salvation Army provided a home for her in one of their shelters. After a few months they arranged for her to stay in an apartment in Madison. All the while Brianna worked despite her well-founded fears of Covid. At some point her case manager at the Salvation Army introduced her to Shelters to Shutters. Brianna applied and then waited for the call that eventually came. She interviewed and won a job at an IMT property in Nashville.

Brianna began work at her new job in December of last year but did not move into her new apartment until July since her apartment complex was damaged in the March 2020 tornado. She loves her apartment that was furnished by CORT. “They gave me everything I needed,” she says. “Even a coffee pot.”

When I asked her what she loves the most about her job, Brianna said, “The people. We are family around here. It is the best company I have ever worked for.”

And her employer loves her. “She is the hardest worker we have,” the property manager said. “She hustles.” You can tell that Brianna’s boss has genuine affection for her by the way he kids her.

My hour with Brianna was simply the best 60 minutes I have spent since Covid descended on all of us months ago.

Think about all the players in this success story. The Salvation Army provided a home for Brianna for over a year, along with a caring case worker. This case worker answered Brianna’s phone call the day I was there, even though Brianna had long since moved on from there.

Shelters to Shutters stepped in at just the right time to help Brianna take the next step to self-sufficiency. The offer was not a handout. A simple hand up.

IMT Residential hired Brianna and because of their partnership with Shelters to Shutters gave her a 70% discount on her apartment for a year, along with waiving the first month’s rent. They will pay for further certifications if she wants to advance in her career.

Then CORT provided everything she needed to set up house in her new apartment. Bed, dresser, table, kitchen items. Everything.

But the star of this show is Brianna. She arrived in Nashville, not knowing anyone. She worked throughout the pandemic when many did not. She wants a better life for herself and uses phrases like “you have to want it” and “there are no excuses.” She almost sounds like one of those inspirational after dinner speakers.

She already is.

Inspirational that is.

The mission of Shelters to Shutters is to help people like Brianna. It is a privilege to do so.


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