NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Nashville nonprofit Trinity Community Commons is once again serving free meals, less than one week after a fire destroyed parts of their church.
Zach Lykins is the volunteer coordinator for Trinity Community Commons and says it was an easy decision knowing what this meal accomplished in the past.
“It was the first place that I had been where I saw people across poverty lines, across racial lines, across all different barrier lines sharing a meal,” Lykins said.
It was never one side serving the other or only one side being helped. This was the best form of community building he could imagine. The pandemic forced a few changes last March, so people could no longer meet at a table. Many still made the trip, grabbed a meal, and spent some time with volunteers who made it possible.
“It’s sad in some ways because you can’t do that same social connection, but it is still good to see a lot of the same guests coming back week after week and keeping that relationship alive,” Lykins said.
Meals are provided by the Nashville Food Project who typically send food to be prepared. Knowing there was no kitchen to work from at TCC, the group made the meals ready to serve.
Nate Paulk is the executive director for TCC and was surprised at how eager his staff was to continue this tradition. He admits that at first, he hesitated at the idea knowing the church required major repairs.
That’s when Paulk realized that no matter how tragic the loss, the problems facing their neighbors haven’t stopped. The least he could do is give these neighbors one less thing to worry about.
“This isn’t about a property, it’s about people. I think that having the meal is more about us saying, buildings can burn but at the core of what TCC is, are the people of this community,” Paulk said.
Paulk says this is not to diminish losses from the historic church. Instead, he’s hoping others understand the church has served several purposes over the years. Just this November, the church was the community polling place where neighbors cast their ballot.
“So many different people have different kinds of connections with this space. We just let people choose how to connect,” Paulk said.
To build on that sense of community, the meal will continue as long as they have the resources available. Even if you’re not interested in a meal for yourself, Paulk welcomes any volunteers or those willing to bring meals to families in need.
For the time being, Paulk is working on finding a temporary solution for their virtual learning pods destroyed in the fire. At least 20 children took part in virtual learning through the church.
You can support the fire relief efforts by clicking here.