In an America that is becoming increasingly uncertain for refugees, Siloam Health exists to meet their most essential needs. Currently serving over 5,000 people from 80 different countries, Siloam provides affordable health care to Nashville’s most medically vulnerable populations.
Founded in 1991, Siloam began with a vision to provide holistic health care to the underserved community in Nashville’s Edgehill neighborhood and opened its first, volunteer-operated center on the corner of 12th Avenue South and Wedgewood Avenue out of a 1,000 square-foot apartment-turned-clinic. Within five years, the tiny clinic was providing physical, mental and emotional care for nearly 1,000 individuals, asking for just $2 per visit and operating with an almost entirely volunteer staff.
From the very beginning, Siloam’s approach has been to care for the whole person – body, mind and spirit – and to empower vulnerable populations to obtain the holistic care they need. With a mission to share the love of Christ by serving those in need through health care, Siloam offers spiritual guidance and mental health services alongside primary care, and has built a reputation that actively loves and listens to their clients. While many vulnerable populations avoid seeking medical care for fear that it will bankrupt them or their loved ones, Siloam pushes against this fear, seeking not just to dictate what communities need, but to empower them to play a role in their own well-being. To this end, Siloam often partners with immigrant communities, pairing them with expert practitioners to identify unique challenges and equip local community members to serve one another.
“We want to give communities the power to assess their own health concerns and challenges so they can tell us what their own needs are instead of us directing it,” says Richards . “By pairing our nurses with their own community members, we hope to help change the culture around how refugees and immigrants approach health care.”
Siloam has grown to serve over 5,000 people, including 88 percent who are foreign-born. They’ve moved out of the apartment clinic and into a fully equipped facility on Gale Lane, partnering with major leaders in Nashville’s health care industry including Saint Thomas, HCA and Vanderbilt. But what’s fascinating about their story isn’t the level of growth, but why. From the start, Siloam’s mission has never been grandiose or overreaching; what began as a desire to serve one community has expanded across Nashville simply because it had to – Nashville needs Siloam.
“Oftentimes you think of similar nonprofits that could stand in the gap [if your organization didn’t exist],” says director of development Katie Richards. “In Nashville there wouldn’t be another nonprofit as uniquely equipped as Siloam to provide primary health care to these groups of people. They would have no one.”
Looking for a way to get involved? Siloam was founded out of volunteer engagement and the organization still utilizes over 400 volunteers each year. Whether you are a medical professional or simply looking for ways to serve your refugee neighbors, Siloam has great opportunities for individual and group volunteering. The organization also gives Nashvillians a unique opportunity for donating through their Glocal Partner monthly giving program. Visit their website at www.siloamhealth.org to discover volunteer and donation opportunities.