Not to Fix, But to Love —Project Connect Nashville
Founded in 2013, Project Connect Nashville (PCN) exists “to help disconnected and vulnerable men, women, and their families build relationships with others who will encourage and guide them, providing assistance when needed, educating and equipping them for the challenges each day brings, and celebrating every victory along the way.” In other words, to be with vulnerable people as friends, helping them GOSO (Get Out Stay Out) of poverty—not through fixing them, but by loving them.
It was a friend who first connected Faye Maynard to the people in the program. She saw how the organization was assisting people in poverty—people who wanted to change their lives. She saw also that, in addition to a well-thought out curriculum for transformation, Project Connect has a heart for the poor, coming from their ultimate mentor—Jesus Christ. She volunteered first to bring a few meals, but her own commitment grew as she also saw the undeniable results in the people.
People sign up for a six-weeks, four-nights-a-week curriculum dealing with work and life skills, faith and finances, and understanding the story of God’s love for them. They come from a variety of places in the area, but many live in a nearby apartment complex where PCN volunteers also do programming, including Vacation Bible School, for the children and alongside the residents work in the garden there, growing relationships, as well as food.
An artist, Faye has put her interests and skills to work on behalf of her new friends, enabling them to engage their own creativity, to learn to think differently about themselves, and to experience community through various art projects that are woven into the Work Life curriculum, which recognizes that creativity, self-worth, and team work are also important in the job market. “God has opened my eyes to the needs of people in my own community and led me to greater compassion. I’ve been blessed,” Faye states as she reflects on how the relationships she has made through her volunteering have had an impact on her, as well.
Volunteers bring whatever skills and interests and available time they have. Their training is focused on helping them understand the challenges people in poverty face and to see them—not a project to be fixed—but as persons to be loved, as friends.
To find out more or to volunteer as an individual or as a congregation, visit projectconnectnashville.org.