With the winter season quickly approaching, our Room In The Inn team wanted to reach out to you to share some updates about this year. First of all, thank you for your 16+ years of support for our RITI ministry. We have had many happy years of shared meals and conversation with our guests, and we are grateful for the love that our church continues to give to those experiencing homelessness. With the global pandemic, this year looks different for us. We have decided due to safety for all involved not to participate in offering an onsite shelter for the 2020-2021 season. This decision was not made lightly, and we continue to pray and look for creative ways we can offer support during this time. Know this—our ministry with Room In The Inn and with the larger homeless community continues, and with your help we will offer support for food, shelter, and safety in other ways throughout this time.
Our Room In The Inn team has worked diligently to research nonprofits in the area who are doing this good work to find out about their current needs. We have been in touch with Room In The Inn, the Williamson County Homeless Alliance, Open Table, Safe Haven Family Shelter, United Way of Greater Nashville, The Cookery, Shower Up, Shower The People, and the Nashville Rescue Mission and Women’s Mission. We are amazed with the many organizations who are leading the efforts to offer care and shelter during this time. Our RITI team and Mission committee are committed to sharing our time and finances to supporting these organizations—look for more information soon about some of the new ways we are giving to respond to needs during Covid-19. In the meantime, you will find below this letter several ways to give on an individual level.
We continue to believe deeply in the work that Room In The Inn and others are doing to support those without homes. We look forward to the day when our rooms are open again to receive guests overnight. Our RITI team will continue meeting regularly throughout this winter season, and we invite you to share with any of us your ideas for this ministry. We pray for safety and health for all those without homes during these cold months. As one guest once shared, “I am homeless, but I’m not hopeless.” We are called to live into hope in Christ and in one another in this season.
Room In The Inn Team
Namaste Anderson, Co-Chair
Sue Banner, Co-Chair
Mary Sellers Shaw, Associate Pastor
It is the intent of RITI Ministry to not only focus and commit resources to the heartbreaking issue of homelessness but to also take in deep regard the incredible issue of poverty in a country as wealthy as ours. Below are some statistics that shed light on the needs of so many people. We recognize this issue and stand committed to lend assistance to the best of our ability to those in such dire need.
What is the poverty level in America?
The threshold in the United States are updated and
used for statistical purposes. In 2020, in the United States, the poverty threshold for a single person
under 65 was an annual income of US$12,760; the threshold for a family group of
four, including two children, was US$26,200.
In 2018, 38.1 million people lived in Poverty USA. That means the poverty rate for 2018 was 11.8%
Poverty thresholds are determined by the US government, and vary according to the size of a family, and the ages of its members. In 2018, the poverty threshold—also known as the poverty line—for an individual was $12,784. For two people, the weighted average threshold was $16,247.
5.3% of the population—or 17.3 million people—live in deep poverty, with incomes below 50% of their poverty thresholds.
And 29.9% of the population—or 93.6 million—live close to poverty, with incomes less than two times that of their poverty thresholds.
United States 2018
People Living in Poverty
Poverty is defined as a state of extreme levels of destitution. People are poor when their income falls below a certain threshold of money, which is determined by the United States Census Bureau. You might naturally associate the concept of being poor strictly with homeless individuals whom you pass on the streets, but not everyone who lives in poverty is without a house. Many people you might not associate with poverty are very poor, and it can be really hard to make ends meet in the United States, especially if the jobs people work do not compensate for the cost of living.
Homeless statistics according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness as of January 2019 for the United States were 567,715 people. Homeless in Tennessee 2018 was 7,467 of which 1,986 were in Nashville/Davidson County.
Room In The Inn (RITI) started in 1985 with four congregations committed to sheltering homeless people in Nashville, TN. It was a vision of a Nashville minister, Father Charles F. Strobel. By the end of that winter, 31 congregations had joined together to house and feed the homeless. Now over 190 congregations in Middle TN, with over 6,500 volunteers, participate in Room in the Inn. They shelter over 1,400 men and women from November to March. Emergency services, transitional programs, and long term solutions are offered 365 days a year at the RITI downtown campus.
First Presbyterian Church Franklin has been one of the member congregations for the past 14 years. What does this mean? Our church hosts 12 guests every Wednesday night (alternating men and women guests). A volunteer driver and rider pick up our guests from the Nashville campus and deliver them to the church. When they arrive at FPC, other volunteers have already set up beds in several of the rooms off of Wilson Hall. Our RITI guests join the congregation for our WNL dinner and fellowship. Volunteers provide breakfast and sack lunches, which are distributed Thursday morning. Members of our church also volunteer as InnKeepers-- they spend the night at the church. Thursday morning, another volunteer driver picks up the guests and returns them to the Nashville campus.
There are many pieces to this puzzle and many ways to be involved in the mission. You needn't come to church Wednesday nights to participate, but we would love for you to join us and interact with our guests. Feel free to reach out to Mary Sellers Shaw or Namaste Anderson if you'd like more information.
"Room In The Inn is not about giving; it is about receiving. It is about everyone, both guests and hosts, receiving a blessing, an encounter with God in the midst of suffering, hardship, pain, and grief. It is an opportunity, not an answer."
Father Charles F. Strobel, Founder of RITI