Tag Archives: Catholic Charities

AmeriCorps Q&A: Stephen Decker, Refugee Cultural Orientation Specialist

Working with Hands On Nashville and Volunteer Tennessee, Catholic Charities of Tennessee welcomed two AmeriCorps members for the 2016-2017 term. As his term came to a close, we asked Steven Decker, refugee cultural orientation specialist, to share thoughts about what he’ll take away from a year of service.

Is there a community project or moment in the past year that particularly resonated with you? Why?

I always was trying to improve my cultural orientation class by working with community organizations and PSOs that could help me develop new materials for the class. My outreach to the Metro Nashville Police Department resulted in much more than I expected; not only did we get some great information and materials to pass on to clients, but with MNPD’s help, I was able to organize a field trip for clients. They met police officers in Nashville and learned more about the role of the police in American society. This was the kind of community building I came to AmeriCorps in order to do, and I was glad to see my outreach efforts bear fruit.

What has been the most challenging part of your term so far?

The political dimensions surrounding refugee resettlement in the U.S. right now make working in an agency like Catholic Charities awfully interesting, to say the least. With funding cuts and other related changes, we are down to a skeleton crew compared to the staff we had, but are still expected to deliver the same level of service to our clients within the same kind of timelines as before. Lucky for us, we have a great staff that has banded together to weather the storm. It’s a great team that continues – and will continue in the future, I’m sure – to perform ordinary, everyday miracles!

What about the most rewarding? 

There are two answers I could provide for this question. The first thing I’d mention is the chance to work with some remarkable people who have overcome terrible hardships, and yet could teach many of us a thing or two about compassion and respecting your fellow man. The second is helping others in the Nashville community and surrounding area better understanding the facts surrounding the refugee experience before and after resettlement. I have found the best way to fight prejudice borne of ignorance is to provide people with the means to break their own ignorance.

What do you like most about working with Catholic Charities?

This is one of the best staffs I have ever been a part of; it’s been a true privilege to work with and be counted among this group, and I have been blessed with plenty of “take-aways” or lessons I can apply to my future work from this experience.

What’s something you didn’t expect about living in Nashville?

T-R-A-F-F-I-C. You can say want you want about Nashville residents, but they sure do know how to clog up a road!

Learn more about Catholic Charities of Tennessee.

Donation drive scheduled for Nov. 16 to help survivors of August flood

Local nonprofits, Mayor Karl Dean join forces to help rebuild lives

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — More than a dozen nonprofits are teaming up on a donation drive to help survivors of the August 8, 2013 flood that forced hundreds of Middle Tennesseans out of their homes. As much as seven inches of rain fell in four hours across a narrow band in Davidson, Sumner, and Wilson counties, with more than 250 homes damaged as a result of the heavy rainfall. donate_floodrelief_square

Nonprofits involved with Voluntary Organizations Assisting in Disaster (VOAD) are seeking donations to help these families repair homes, replace vital home goods and address other needs. Donations of new and gently used items will be collected Saturday, November 16 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the following locations:

  • LP Field, Lot N (1 Titans Way, Nashville, TN 37213)
  • Westminster Presbyterian Church (3900 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37205).

In addition, donations will be accepted at East Park (700 Woodland St, Nashville, TN 37206) from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 15, and from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 16, during packet pick-up for the Mayor’s Challenge 5K Walk/Run, which is taking place on Sunday, Nov. 17.

“The August floods were severe but isolated to northern sections of Davidson County and other areas, and it’s important for all of us to remember that many families are still struggling,” Mayor Karl Dean said. “Through this effort, I encourage Nashvillians to help these flood survivors get back on their feet, just as our community came together to support one another during the 2010 floods. I’m pleased so many community partners are part of this effort, and I thank them for this collaborative response.”

Examples of items needed:

  • Small housewares:  cookware, dishes, glasses, silverware, towels, small appliances, lamps, baby furniture, etc.
  • Bedding:  sheets, comforters, mattress protectors, pillows, etc.
  • Bedroom furniture:  metal bed frames, headboards, dressers, night tables, etc.
  • Living Room furniture:  couches, chairs, end tables, coffee tables, etc.
  • Kitchen/Dining Room furniture:  dinette/dining tables and chairs, baby chairs
  • Clothing:  All kinds, especially winter and school uniforms for children

Organizations working to support 2013 flood survivors include Catholic Charities, The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, Hands On Nashville, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church, Westminster Home Connection, and the Tennessee Titans, among others. Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee will be collecting approved donations and the donated items will be converted into “Goodwill Cares” gift cards for flood victims to use at local Goodwill stores.


Jamie Berry
Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee
P: (615) 346-1232
C: (615) 332-5911