WHO ARE OUR PARTICIPANTS IN
Our homeless friends range in age from young adults to senior citizens. All have a physical, cognitive, social, or emotional life challenge. Some of the challenges we serve include autism, PTSD, spinal cord injury, depression, anxiety, behavior disorders, bi-polarism, hearing and vision impairment, development delay, addiction, alcoholism, and more. Some are veterans, and most have multiple challenges that provide barriers to obtaining housing. We also serve those negatively impacted by COVID-19, and offer peer support, food, meals, referrals, and other support.
Current needs include men's casual clothing in all sizes and in good condition, chap stick, sanitizing wipes, dark ball caps, solid colored backpacks, tents, tarps, sun glasses, travel mugs and portable water bottles with covers, 16 oz. bottled water, toiletries, first aid supplies, linens, pillows, non-perishable food, towels and wash cloths, coolers, art supplies, mittens, gloves, hand warmers, and fiction books (especially mysteries, thrillers, and westerns)
Operation Backpack is an overarching program for the street outreach services we provide. This is our flagship program, and one that can save lives. Our staff and trained outreach volunteers seek out and identify men and women living in homelessness in the Nashville and surrounding areas, then give the gift of food, clothing, street supplies, and referrals to other organizations that can provide physical and mental health services, social services, and housing navigation . As you might imagine, men and women who are homeless, or who are housing insecure, are in desperate need of the items we deliver.
Please note that we do not have the resources to provide housing, either short- or long-term, or seek out any housing for our friends in homelessness. However, we can provide referrals to housing navigators for those who live in Davidson County, Tennessee.
After an individual is housed, we sometimes can deliver furniture and household items that make a house a home. The vast majority of the items we distribute are donated by people who live in Middle Tennessee. We can also sometimes provide post-housing peer support, to make the transition easier, and to make long-term housing success a reality.
If you can envision life without a clean pair of socks, a toothbrush, or a band aid, you can understand how needed our items are. Also, our distributions of goods is often the first gateway to becoming housed, since we are able to determine other needs, such as medical, mental health, ID cards, and nutrition, and refer to other agencies who can help. Eventually, all of this can lead to housing.
Sometimes, men and women living in homelessness, or those who are in danger of losing housing, or those who have been recently housed, come to our learning center to learn job and life skills. From learning affect and respect, teamwork, leadership, goal setting and follow through, our farm-based learning center and therapy animals change lives.
Of course, none of this could happen without you. We need outreach volunteers, volunteers to help collect items for distribution, and volunteers to help sort and pack items. From 4-H and church groups to businesses and other organizations, we rely on you to help us make a difference. Please contact us if you are interested in helping with Operation Backpack.
We also need backpacks, toiletries, non-perishable food that does not need to be cooked, and first aid supplies! In winter, we also need coats, blankets, caps, scarves, mittens,and gloves. Men and women who are homeless often do not have basic necessities such as soap, toothpaste, a washcloth or a toothbrush. Note that at present, we have enough socks to meet our needs, thanks to Bombas. Please visit the wish list on our giving page to see a list of items we need.
The gift of a backpack also delivers conversation and hope for a better tomorrow. We appreciate your help more than you could possibly know. Thank you.
Thanks to the Kroger Foundation and the Nashville Predators Foundation, we are also proud to announce that we now help our homeless friends grow their own vegetables, and we deliver large, potted vegetable plants annually to homeless men and women who want them. Then we follow up with literature and discussions about healthy nutrition.
Mission: Helping People with Life Challenges Through Outreach and Interactions with Animals and Nature