“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” -Henry David Thoreau
When the folks at DaVita Kidney Care approached us about coordinating a service day for their employees during the company’s conference in Nashville, we landed on sprucing up the building that houses East Nashville Cooperative Ministry (ENCM). It was clear to DaVita that this small-but-mighty East Nashville nonprofit impacts a lot of lives, and that the building where it does so much good work – helping the elderly, poor, disabled, unemployed, and disadvantaged with emergency food assistance and empowering community wellbeing through food security – didn’t quite reflect the beauty and potential of its work. As we dug into the needs of the facility, it became clear that the building would need a complete renovation. DaVita (based in Denver, Colorado) and the Nashville community stepped up to the challenge.
For the past few days, volunteers from the community have been working through the sunshine and the rain to tear down walls, set fence posts, build scaffolding, and more. Tomorrow, 180 DaVita employees will descend on the small building on Gallatin Road to paint an exterior mural on the side of the building, construct fences and arbors for the vegetable garden, build indoor and outdoor tables, paint and install shelving, paint interior walls, and build planters. Dozens of community members will continue to volunteer over the next few days to complete the project. And on Monday, after Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee restocks its food pantry with staple food items and produce, East Nashville Cooperative Ministry will unveil their renovated facility – a space that will enable the organization to meet the rapidly increasing demand for emergency food assistance, provide food education to the community, engage more volunteers, and improve the curb appeal of the neighborhood.
As ENCM executive director Alan Murdock says in the news release that went out yesterday, “The renovation will not only help expand our services and volunteer programs, but it will also put the agency in a position to provide more healthy food choices, and expanded gardening and cooking education to our clients and the community on a more consistent basis.” While a building certainly isn’t everything, the space within which ENCM operates will be forever changed after this week. All thanks to the vision of caring businesses and Nashville volunteers. And that’s a powerful thing.