year end giving
Simply give $100 (or more!)* and you will be invited to a virtual appreciation event featuring a live Q&A with Titans safety Kevin Byard hosted by Mike Keith, voice of the Titans, and Amie Wells of Titans All Access.
*Invitation is only valid to donors who donate $100 or more to United Way of Greater Nashville between December 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.
To our most dedicated supporters, thank you. Thank you for sticking with us this year.
Your community needs you now, so please make a gift today.
Because of you, our neighbors who didn’t know where to turn are able to rest a little easier—knowing their children have food to eat and a warm place to sleep. Because of you, they are not alone.
Some of you have given all you can spare to make life easier for your neighbors in need. We are humbled and so grateful.
But one final time, we’re asking you to dig deeper—to stretch your pockets a little further—and pledge one final gift as you are able.
The truth is: When our fundraising is low, our nonprofit agencies suffer. And the communities they serve are affected the most.
While we don’t know exactly what these winter months will bring, we’re committed to our deep and profound responsibility to help those who are struggling, whose backs are against the wall. When we rise out of this pandemic, we’ll do so triumphantly—standing tall and proud knowing that we lifted up our neighbors when they needed us most.
Knowing that, no matter what … United We Win.
Michael's story: "It’s a scary feeling when you’re completely out of resources."
On March 13, Michael was waiting backstage at the Fillmore in Minneapolis when his tour manager told the band to pack up their things. They were going home.
The pandemic had hit the U.S., and their tour was over. “All the money I was expecting to make was evaporated. I had about $1,000 in my bank account and my rent was coming up,” he said. “It’s a scary feeling when you’re completely out of resources—and I’m not someone who likes to ask for help.”
He and his wife were expecting their first child and he says they went into survival mode. They decided to save their money for food and tell their landlord they wouldn’t be able to make rent.
A friend tipped him off to Rooftop Nashville, a United Way partner agency and recipient of grant funding from the COVID-19 Response Fund, managed by United Way. He filled out an application for financial assistance, and they were able to cover his April rent.
“Sometimes when you fill out an application like that, you feel like you’re going to get lost in a sea of applications. The promptness of their response told me there are people that actually care. Honestly it was humbling because I had never had to apply for social services.”
Ebony's story: "With childcare, sometimes the bill is my whole paycheck."
“I’m teaching my kids that no matter where you come from, you can succeed at anything. You can be anything that you want to. But you have to work hard for it, and you can’t give up.”
A single mom to two girls, Ebony is no stranger to sacrifice.
She once went two days without eating so that her daughters, ages 12 and four, could see a movie at the theater with their friends. She’s worked at the same company for nine years, but as the only source of income, prioritizing childcare, groceries, gas, rent and doctor’s bills was—and often still is—a struggle.
“With childcare, sometimes the bill is my whole paycheck. What am I working for if I’m having to give over my whole check?” she says.
Ebony began to meet with a counselor at the Nashville Financial Empowerment Center, a partnership between United Way of Greater Nashville and the Mayor’s Office, to tackle her finances. She says that weekly free counseling gave her the confidence to plan, to budget and to understand her spending habits.
“My counselor is really for me and wants to see me succeed. She’s giving me that extra boost of confidence, even giving me homework so that I can actually further what I want to do. She’s really helping me work with what I’ve got and understand where I’m spending. So that I won’t be so stressed out and will have more money for groceries and I know we’re not just eating junk food because the junk food is cheaper. She helped me get a hold of my budget and make different choices.”
Ebony started out meeting with her counselor weekly, but eventually transitioned to once every few months. If a big change pops up in her life, her counselor is the first person she calls to get back on track. Ebony’s counselor even told her about a first-time home-buyers’ program.
“It really makes me feel good because I know things can turn around. And the great life that I want, I can still have it with a little budgeting. I want to start looking into buying a house for my babies so that they can actually have something to grow up in.”
But even with a firm grip on her finances, Ebony still has to balance that time between putting in hours to keep the lights on and finding the time to be there emotionally for her kids.
“It can be tough trying to balance the quality time to spend with them, to still nurture and give them that guidance and let them know that, ‘Hey, mom is here, and she loves you,’ ” she says. “Sometimes we may not get home until 7 at night and we leave at 6:50 in the morning. When we get home, we’re scrambling to do dinner and to get ready for bed. There’s really no time in the afternoon for them to do anything at home, so I’m happy that they have a little bit of activity after school to still have that time with their friends. And still develop their mind because they need that time to develop and grow outside of the books.”
With her first daughter, she had some support from her grandmother to help with childcare. But as her children got older, it was important to her that they were in a program, learning and socializing with kids their age. And getting ready for Kindergarten.
“But programs are expensive. You want them to be somewhere nice that has the different languages and the tutors but when they are $400 a week, you’re like, ‘Wait a minute, I’m not going to be able to afford rent. They’re not going to have clothes. What am I going to do?’ ”
Her oldest is now in middle school and attends an after-school program. She’s grateful that her youngest daughter is in an at-home program where she’s thriving, learning Spanish and playing with other children her age.
“I’ve been blessed with having good people and good places in my life to help me grow … to be able to stay at my job for nine years. I’m grateful that I was able to keep my job and continue my growth within the company. And also knowing that my kids are being cared for, it releases the worry because you know that they’re in good hands while you’re doing what you’re doing to provide for them. I’m teaching my kids that no matter where you come from, you can succeed at anything. You can be anything that you want to. But you have to work hard for it, and you can’t give up.”
Savanna's story: She was 17 years old when she was diagnosed with cancer
Savanna was 17 years old when she was diagnosed with cancer.
She had her thyroid removed, earned her bachelor’s degree and felt perfectly fine for several years.
Then in 2016, Savanna was accepted into Vanderbilt’s Physics and Astronomy Ph.D. program. Two weeks before she was scheduled to move to Nashville from her home in Pittsburgh, doctors found metastases in both of her lungs.
“It was a major decision to separate geographically from my family, especially once the recurrence was on the table,” she says. “Moving here was kind of a big question mark. Do I do it? Do I not? But I did. In a lot of ways, I think that was definitely the best decision because it brought me to people like the folks at Gilda’s.”
Gilda’s Club, a United Way partner agency, provides support to anyone who has been impacted by cancer—at no cost.
Gilda’s is less than a mile from Vanderbilt and provided Savanna some much-needed respite as she battled cancer while earning her Ph.D. But she started off with Gilda’s just thinking she’d volunteer.
“Mostly that was just because I didn’t want to tell other people that I needed the services myself … for being a patient. I wasn’t super use to saying out loud that I needed it as a person with cancer myself but after the first meeting there, I just knew I needed to connect with those people and form meaningful connections with them,” she says. “Gilda’s is beautiful in a lot of ways because if you’re a caregiver, a friend, an acquaintance if you’re affected by cancer in some way shape or form you can go to Gilda’s.”
She goes to a general cancer support group every Monday and even met someone else—for the first time in her life—who is also fighting thyroid cancer.
“It’s not a very normal life in a lot of ways,” she says. “But it’s not one that I would necessarily change either.”
Savanna felt so connected to the organization, she wanted to give back even more and started teaching yoga and meditation twice a week.
“If I’m having a crap day and want someone else on the other end of the phone who understands, I know I can text any of these people in group and we’re that close that a conversation transpires that all the sudden makes everything OK. These folks have grown to be a major part of my life because I let them into my world. They celebrated big time with me when I graduated.
Now, a senior lecturer in Vanderbilt’s Physics and Astronomy department, Savanna never misses a meeting with her group.
“They are the people who if something goes sideways, if an appointment is not enjoyable—if you just need someone to commiserate with—they are amazing and always there. I can’t say enough good things about what that does for the day-to-day life.”
Sherry's story: "We know that we’re making a connection with people that need the food.”
15 years ago, Sherry was looking for a way to occupy herself during the winter months. Her job was part-time and seasonal and she wanted to give back to her community. “I had a friend, an older lady who has passed since then—her name was Ms. Ivy Hornsby—and she went to church with me. She got to talking about how she was volunteering at the [United Ministries]. It caught my attention, so I started volunteering when I had the opportunity.”
Ten years later, Sherry is now the showrunner of United Ministries Food Bank, a United Way partner agency in Robertson County. She does so on an entirely volunteer basis.
“It’s an opportunity to give back to the community. And I feel very fortunate with the life I’ve led. I look out and I see so many people that are struggling and it was a good opportunity to try to help those people that were in need.”
While Robertson County might be a small community, Sherry says the need is great—and has been more so since the pandemic hit.
“Unlike a lot of the other communities that surround Nashville, we have a lot of poor people that live in our community. ‘Poor’ meaning they don’t have a lot of funding: the living poor, the working poor. We have people that have jobs but are not making enough money to really support their families in the means that they would like to and therefore they come to the food bank to get assistance.”
She says right when COVID-19 hit the community, they saw a huge increase in need. Even though it’s quieted down, she worries that’s because a lot of seniors and immunocompromised folks are fearful to come in. United Ministries quickly adapted to the pandemic and began setting up tables outside, so that anyone in need can simply drive up to the building with as little contact as possible.
Sherry says one thing that sticks out to her about Robertson County is the generosity of its community members.
“When we have a need, we just put out a request and it seems like people sort of flock to us to try to help.”
United Ministries typically hosts two major food pantries through Second Harvest each year—in the spring and the fall—thanks to the support of sponsors. The end of September arrived and no one had offered to sponsor the pantry, which meant hundreds of neighbors who were hurting wouldn’t have access to food they were relying on.
Sherry put an op-ed in the local paper: a battle cry to her neighbors.
Several individuals stepped forward and said they would do whatever it took to make sure the pantry took place. Then Springfield Utilities and the Tennessee Valley Authority stepped up to help as well. Sherry says with the corporate support, they’ll be able to use the money from the individuals to provide holiday meals and put the corporate dollars toward the pantry that hundreds were relying on.
“All I’ve got to do is just ask people to step up and usually they’ll step up,” she says. “With the drive-through pantry in April, we had over 350 families drive through so we know that we’re making a connection with people that need the food.”
And with the holidays, she knows the need will continue to grow.
“I know that there’s a lot of families that sit down for the holidays and just don’t have the feast that a lot of us get to have during the holidays. And so for the last five years now we’ve had at least 200 families that have been able to have that thanksgiving meal and also the Christmas meal. We’ve been trying to put together ways of helping them have a more normal life, a more enjoyable life.”
Because of your generosity
individuals have maintained stable housing
books were provided to students and teachers in their homes
virtual tutoring sessions were provided to combat summer learning loss
nonprofits received funding to provide financial assistance to neighbors in need