Nonprofits are a dime-a-dozen, but sometimes one is created with a mission that simply cannot be overlooked. Located in Murfreesboro near its historic square is Greenhouse Ministries, a charity whose goal is help move people from a situation of hopelessness and to “serve everyone with love and respect.”
“Greenhouse Ministries strives to help, educate and connect every client who walks through our doors,” said Rachel Young, the public relations and event coordinator for the organization. “ We help by providing basic-needs items … We educate by offering a variety of classes, free to the public, (and) finally, we connect our clients with job opportunities in the area and other local resources.”
The nonprofit has been serving the Middle Tennessee community since 1999 when founders Cliff and Jane Sharp noticed a gap in services for single mothers and the working poor.
“We focus on helping those at or below the poverty line in the state of Tennessee,” Young said. Using this as motivation, the Sharps founded Greenhouse Ministries with a major objective in mind: to inspire hope.
“We have a two-fold purpose of serving the underserved in our community, and second, to offer a place for volunteers to share their gifts and talents,” Young said.
Greenhouse Ministries offers a multitude of services, including a food pantry, legal clinic and learning center, all of which are made possible through community volunteers. The group wears many hats, as evidenced by the variety of services and even have a second-hand thrift shop that sells clothing and home goods. Greenhouse puts the profits directly into its programs to help clients.
“If anyone is interested in volunteering, please reach out to us,” Young said. “Whatever your passion is, we have a place for you.”
Volunteers range in ages and professions. Therapists, attorneys and nurses all volunteer their time to give back to the Murfreesboro community through speciality clinics, in addition to general volunteers who serve wherever they are needed most. Each week, more than 400 hours are clocked at the nonprofit by local volunteers.
“Greenhouse Ministries is needed in our community because we not only offer assistance with items such as food and clothing, but we [also] offer long-term services, such as job resources,” Young said.
Through the newly launched Pathways for Career Success program, clients of Greenhouse Ministries are connected with an occupational therapist who will assess each situation and help clients work through barriers that might be hindering economic success. Through one-on-one time, the therapist and client deal with these issues together, and using its network of community resources, Greenhouse Ministries is then able to refer clients if further services are needed. In addition to inspiring hope in its clients, Greenhouse Ministries also values genuine connections between volunteers and members.
“Most of our clients come in beaten down by horrible life circumstances, but they know when they come to Greenhouse, they will be listened to and they will be shown that life doesn't always have to be that way,” Young said.
The most popular way Greenhouse Ministries lives this value is through its Hands Up for New Hope program, a project that connects clients with occupational therapy interns and local churches to encourage them as they transition to an improved life. The long-term programs last nine-to-12 months and will resolve issues such as self-esteem, spirituality or general life-skill building.
Although it’s faith-based, Greenhouse Ministries serves everyone, regardless of religious views of affiliation. “(We) strive to help … every client,” Young said.
To combat Murfreesboro’s growing issue with homelessness, Greenhouse Ministries uses the Wellspring/Cottage Men’s Housing Program as a way to connect men who are experiencing chronic homelessness with safe and reliable housing. And just as housing for community members is important to the ministry, so to is its own current housing crisis. Housed in an 11,000-square foot facility, Greenhouse Ministries has outgrown its home and are planning to move to a lot near the current property after a debt has been paid on the current building.
“We are currently in the process of fundraising for a new building so we can better serve our clients,” Young said. “This new building will allow us to expand what we currently do and add other programs to sustain us for years to come.”