“We have a real simple mission of helping people stay afloat,” says Anne Carty, the executive director of ARK Community Resource Center, a United Way partner agency in Cheatham County.
Think of any resource a family might need, and ARK has probably provided it at some point.

Although Cheatham County is small in population, it’s a long county geographically—running from north to south, divided by the Cumberland River. It can be hard for families on the southern end to get to the north part of the county where a lot of the helping agencies are such as the food bank and the Department of Human Services.

That’s why a small group from Kingston Springs United Methodist decided to start a food bank in south Cheatham County.

“Some of these people were driving 20, 30 miles and when they have to drive, you know, they don’t have money for food. They certainly don’t have money for gas. So, we got started and it has just grown.”

They’ve since started a retail store, grown their food bank and are able to help individuals and families with utility bills.

“Anything in our resale store, we can also just give to folks who need it. We work closely with the schools and their needs. And, we just have a very connecting kind of service and because we cannot do it by ourselves, we partner locally with a lot of the churches and the schools, and then we have our bigger partners too that are outside Cheatham County.”

She says one of their most recent calls was a child in a local elementary school who was wearing shoes that were three sizes too small—and ARK was able to quickly get them a new pair of shoes.

“Those are little things, but they really mean a lot to the student who is experiencing it and to the teacher who has observed it. So, that’s some of the little ways we can help a family. Our county is small, but the need is great.”

Since COVID hit, she says they’ve seen the biggest increase in people needing food.

“A lot of those were new people, folks we had never seen before, and that made us glad that they felt like they could come to us when they needed help, to keep themselves afloat through COVID. But it hurt our souls to know that there were so many people out there hurting that had not really hit bottom before … like they have this year.”

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