“One thing I’ve learned during the pandemic is that we are all so close—one thing goes wrong—and you could be looking at losing so much.”
Stefanie has worked in social services since she was 21 years old. She’s been in behavioral health, life care, family services and ministry. Now, as the emergency assistance program director at NeedLink Nashville, she helps people pay their past due utility bills and access affordable, income-based rent. Her main job is to work directly with those who need help, along with the utility companies and landlords, to make pledges and make sure that those payments go through. Because of her work, families who are struggling can stay in their homes and keep their lights on.

NeedLink focuses primarily on the most vulnerable in our Nashville neighborhoods.

“That would be those with children, seniors, those with disabilities, veterans, those experiencing homelessness,” she says. “This past year, we’ve seen so much loss and anxiety—people who normally would never have to ask for help having to ask for help. One gentleman told us, ‘I’m 38 years old. I’ve never had to ask for help. I’ve never not had a way to provide for my kids and my family.’ And he was super grateful that we were able to help get his water back on. There are so many stories like that.”

In fact, NeedLink has a grant with the Tennessee Valley Authority and Nashville Electric Service to help people keep their electricity on.

“Obviously housing is such a big issue in our community: finding affordable housing and then keeping that affordable housing. If your electric gets cut off, that could turn into an eviction because that can be a lease violation. So even us helping with someone’s electricity is really keeping somebody in their housing. And as much as we can do that, we want to do that.”

She says that’s what finding strength in community is.

“It’s doing your part no matter how small because it all adds up. And I’m really proud to be a part of NeedLink Nashville and to be able to do that. It’s been very inspiring to see everybody else in the community, especially this past year, do their part. That’s something, too, that NeedLink really likes to do is make referrals to our partner agencies and help point people to the next best direction—to make sure that people understand that there are other additional great resources that can help them be even more successful and take care of their families.”

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