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The Rotary Club of Brentwood awarded five local nonprofits with $5,000 checks on Friday to help them continue to help others in the Williamson County and Middle Tennessee communities.

The recipients include FrankTown Open Hearts, GraceWorks Ministries, Mid-Cumberland Meals-on-Wheels, Safe Haven Family Shelter and Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.

The Rotary Club of Brentwood meets weekly on Fridays at 11:45 a.m., and this week’s gathering featured comments from representatives from each nonprofit as well as check presentations to each organization.

FrankTown Open Hearts Executive Director Chris Barnhill spoke about the organization’s educational and vocational opportunities for underserved children in a variety of fields and disciplines including culinary arts, robotics, 3D printing and automotive maintenance, as well as various community events.

In addition to the educational programs, Frank Town has also given away more than forty vehicles to families in need, and it is in need of mechanics who are willing to donate their time and skills to those in need. 

“On behalf of the couple hundred kids that we serve, the board of directors of FrankTown, we deeply appreciate your support,” Barnhill said.

GraceWorks Ministries was represented by CEO Valencia Breckenridge who discussed the organization's efforts at offering rent, utility assistance to those in need as well as the operation of their food pantry and thrift store, with Breckenridge noting that they have seen a 63% increase in people in need of services over past year.

“We are a community resource center and we understand it takes a village,” Breckenridge said. “We understand our need for other organizations in the community -- It takes all of us to offer the wrap-around services that those in our community need, so I continue to have an immense gratitude for organizations like the Rotary that come alongside many other organizations."

Mid-Cumberland Meals-on-Wheels Program Director Meals Jamie Davenport spoke about the impact of food insecurity, noting that one in six seniors in Tennessee experience food insecurity and adding that the organization is on track to serve 49,000 meals in Williamson County this year.

“Williamson County has actually increased the services that we provide, and we are so grateful for all of our volunteers,” Davenport said.

Volunteer & Community Relations Manager Emily Rattle spoke about Safe Haven Family Shelter’s approach of trauma-informed care, and how they work to keep families together, something that is unique for shelters.

Rattle added insight about the organization’s adaptations to the COVID-19 pandemic moving from shelter models to providing families in need with hotel rooms and their goal to house 170 families this year.

“It was a dream years ago to house 100 families and two years ago we housed over 112 families for that year,” Rattle said. “With our community partners like the wonderful people in this room, we’re able to reach those goals.”

Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee’s CEO Nancy Kiel spoke about food insecurity, noting that more than 400,000 people in the 46 counties that they serve experience food insecurity, with 20,000 of those people, including children, residing in Williamson County.

Keil spoke of the organization's efforts to source the food directly from farmers and grocery stores to get those resources to those in need.

“With what the Rotary is giving us today, the $5,000, that’s 20,000 meals that we can provide,” Kiel said, adding that since the pandemic began more than one year ago, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee has provided 45 million meals.

More information about the Rotary Club of Brentwood, including how to become a member, can be found here.

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