Friends, family to carry on mission of late homeless advocate

Posted at 9:23 PM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-15 22:23:20-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — After the death of its founder, a homeless non-profit help group is looking inward to continue its important mission.

Layman Lessons was started two decades ago by Louie Johnston. An accomplished businessman, Johnston gave up everything to pursue helping homeless people.

Louie Johnston

He does so without any gain for himself. Johnston would bring in truckloads of food, drink and other goods donated by major brands. The supplies would then be taken to homeless camps across Middle Tennessee.

Johnston estimated there were at least 10,000 homeless people in the metro area, many thousands more than is estimated by the city itself. However, he claimed to have a unique perspective on the homeless community.

Johnston fell sick in late 2020 and died on February 8. Through the years he trained numerous people how to help the homeless in the way he had learned. And now, the people who helped support him have now taken up the mantle.

"I don't ever remember compassion fatigue, or I need a break, or it's too wet, it's too cold or it's too hot. Every Saturday, the most faithful servant ever. I don't know if we can all live up to that. We're going to try. It's tough," said Lillian Weist, who's worked with the mission for years.

Johnston's influence even reached political circles. He knew Governor Bill Lee and his family well. He even had TN First Lady Maria Lee out to tour some of the homeless camps.

Weist said no matter what his mission will continue. She's hoping they can do as good of a job as Louie for many years to come.