Thursday was a day of celebration at 599 West Meade Blvd. in Franklin, as the Williamson County Homeless Alliance held a ribbon cutting at the nonprofit’s renovated transitional living space for those experiencing homelessness.
The John and Joyce McMillen House will soon be able to serve eight people at a time for up to 90 days while they transition to a more permanent living situation.
The Williamson County Homeless Alliance provides “wrap around services” to those it serves, according to its website. Some of those services include providing the basic necessities, help with resumes and job training.
Williamson, Inc. President and CEO Matt Largen, also a Homeless Alliance board member, recalled a past community meeting that brought to light the realities of homelessness in the county. He was proud to see the progress that had been made in just three years.
“It was February of 2018,” he said. “We had a meeting at [St. Paul’s Episcopal Church] to really have a meaningful and important conversation about what we could do and how we help those people experiencing need in our community, and this is one of those steps in that journey.
“I’m just thrilled to see after three years, having this transitional home for the community really shows the heart of this community, the generosity and what it means when we really decide to step out and help people in need.”
One of the generous donors that helped make the home a reality was Rhonda Kemp, who gave $250,000 towards the project. The home is named in memory of Kemp’s parents, John and Joyce McMillen.
Kemp described her parents as people who were always helping their fellow neighbors in need.
“I really feel like they’re here today,” she said. “I feel like they would be so blessed to be a part of this community and the work that Pastor Kevin, the board and all of you are doing.”
Williamson County Homeless Alliance founder Kevin Riggs, who’s also the senior pastor at Franklin Community Church, shared how churches can partner in the nonprofit’s mission and how permanent housing is the key to stability.
“There are four things our community needs in order to really address the homeless situation in a more holistic way,” he said. “One is emergency shelter, the other is transitional homes, then group homes and then permanent housing.
“My ultimate goal is to have 31 churches who will volunteer one night a month for us to bring people to. We’ll provide the monitors, the bedding — everything. We just need the space. If we ever got to that point, we would have shelter every night of the year, not just when the weather got so bad.”
To learn more about the Williamson County Homeless Alliance, visit www.wilcohomeless.com.