The devastation inflicted by the deadly storms that ravaged several Nashville communities earlier this month claimed dozens of lives and left countless more without access to basic necessities including shelter, food, and water.
In response to the destruction, the people of Middle Tennessee rallied together in support of the victims of the storm, raising more that 6.5 million dollars for those affected, in less than a week. The problem? Local guidelines directing generous citizens on how to donate resources have funneled these funds to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, which distributes resources only to 501(c)(3) organizations. As a result, churches and other organizations eager to help tornado victims have been barred from actively supporting people in need, making the process of providing aid to these individuals slower and less efficient.
Rev. Dr. Judy Cummings, Pastor of New Covenant Christian Church in North Nashville, woke up early the morning after the storm, to visit with members of the community and pass out bottles of water. As she went from home to home and witnessed the devastation the storm had caused, she wept. Soon after, she opened New Covenant Christian Church as a relief center to serve those affected. Although the church itself still lacked electricity, it offered necessary supplies and shelter to those who were unable to walk to Lee Chapel and the Northwest YMCA. “This is not a pop-up relief center,” said Rev. Dr. Cummings. “We’ll be open and ready to serve for six to nine months– or as long as it takes for every neighbor to get help during this tragic time.”
Rev. Dr. Cummings also explained how the Community Foundation’s failure to distribute funds to organizations that are not 501(c)(3)s or at the very least, publish an online list indicating which organizations will be receiving resources, is hurting local victims of the storm. “I saw on the news that in order to receive money from the Community Foundation, an organization must be a 501(3)(c). What happens to the churches and other organizations and boots on the ground? How do they get access to funding?”
The issue of how and to whom funds are distributed is extraordinarily urgent. People who lost everything during the storm remain without a home, clothes, food and other supplies, even at this very moment.
“People are suffering now. People do not have access to food or shelter, added Rev. Dr. Cummings. Many landlords are kicking tenants out because they have no intention of making repairs or fixing things. How can we get resources to people today?” In order for tornado victims to fully benefit from Middle Tennessee’s incredibly generous response to the storms, the Community Foundation must make it easier for those in need to gain access to funds and supplies, by publicly indicating which organizations are receiving these essential resources.