NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Garret Boyd Gymnasium on Nolensville Pike may only be an empty gym to most, but to hundreds of men, it was their salvation.
"I ended up on the streets because of my own accord, but what I found here was hope," volunteer Ray Arnett said.
The stacks of air mattresses, blankets and pillows were hauled away Saturday as the building prepared for new ownership. However, the memories here will never be lost.
"I slept over here," Arnett recalled.
"For the end of this, it's a little hard for some of these guys to take," founder Brett Swayn said.
Swayn helped found the Upper Room in 2009, it turned into his passion after he overcame homelessness.
"We asked about the upper loft area, if we could bring in six people that I met that were staying outside of a church, on the concrete in the dead of winter," Swayn explained.
That group of six quickly grew. "It just got out that, ‘Hey, I'm staying here,’ and then it was suddenly 10 to 12 to 25," said Swayn.
It wasn't long before the upper loft overflowed onto the gymnasium floor and soon friendships were made, a community of its own had formed.
"There's something safe here, there's something loveable here. I can be human again, not just a street person, homeless," volunteer Willard Wheaton said.
However, the safety these men found there is now gone as the ministry desperately searches for a new home.
"We just don't know where to go. We're really praying and asking everyone that we know to pray with us to get another location," Swayn said.
For now their spirits may be a little low, but they believe a higher power will help them through.
"It’s my deepest prayer that this ministry can continue what it’s doing because there's so much that's good. There's so much that's life," Arnett said.