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A Story from Open Table Nashville: One of West End UMC’s Missions and Outreach Partner Organizations

Street Outreach and Resource Navigator, Elizabeth Langgle-Martin, shared the following story of her work with Open Table Nashville:

Throughout January and February our team spent countless hours searching for unsheltered individuals in the cold in a desperate effort to minimize exposure related deaths this winter.

During our night canvassing, we connected with a gentleman living alone in the woods with little supplies during very dangerously low temperatures. We were able to provide him with new clothing (he hadn’t changed since November), propane for his heater, and emergency meals. For the next few nights, myself or other individuals from our team checked in with him, making sure he was safe and providing emergency supplies while building rapport with this isolated gentleman. One night one of our volunteers found this gentleman at his campsite, which is located at the bottom of a very steep, wooded incline. He had badly sprained his ankle and was unable to walk. Our volunteer recruited help, got him to the hospital and filled prescriptions to address the sprain and other health issues. He insisted on returning to his camp, where I delivered additional food, cold weather gear and propane the next day. He wasn’t able to leave his camp and was struggling to get to his designated restroom area.

Eventually he agreed to come in to Room In the Inn’s respite program where he has been able to recover. With the help of a few other community partners, we are piecing together our efforts to start diligently working towards housing for this gentleman. One day as I helped him order his birth certificate, he sat freshly shaven, with a new haircut and clothes that were no longer soiled. He shared the abuse and trauma he had experienced. He has been in and out of incarceration and notes his severe struggle with depression. In reference to his alcoholism and isolation he noted, “I think I was trying to kill myself”.

During our meeting, he stated simply “I feel like a human being again”. This is just one of the countless incredibly resilient people I am blessed to journey alongside. Even in just a few weeks we have seen such a change in this individual and I can’t wait to one day get to hand him the keys to his own apartment.

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