Open in App
The Tennessean

Students with special needs help feed the hungry

By Nashville Tennessean,


Good morning, friends! This is Tennessean storytelling columnist Brad Schmitt.

My favorite nonprofit of the moment is Franklin-based food pantry One Generation Away, which holds massive drive-thru free-food distributions most Saturdays in Middle Tennessee. I'm usually out there on the traffic team, and they even let me hold a bright orange stick and everything! Good times.

Do you have a fave charity you volunteer with? I wanna hear about it! Email me at

I'm starting this week's Good News with an item about a new venture at One Gen.

'We are helping people who need food'

The three young adults rolled off the bus at 9 a.m. Tuesday and high-fived staffers at One Generation Away food pantry in Franklin as they walked in.

They are participants in Centennial High School's Transitions 2 program for 18- to 22-year-olds with special needs, there for a volunteer shift.

One issue was top of mind.

"You have snacks?" 19-year-old Spencer Quehl asked about 15 seconds after walking in.

One Gen operations director Scott Lucas laughed and boomed, "Oh yeah! We have snacks for y'all."

Then the students got to work, filling hundreds of bags with nonperishable food for One Gen's new Doorstep Pantry program, which delivers food through DoorDash to recipients' homes.

The students had fun doing it, with Spencer and Gabe Garrett, 20, getting into some good-natured shoving and teasing during the task. They also enjoy knowing they're serving folks who need it.

"We are helping people who need food," student Kenya Johnson, 19, said.

video of the students in action here.

And, oh yeah, One Gen kept its promise to the students. About 90 minutes into the project, Spencer, Gabe and Kenya were snacking on Pop Tarts and Cheez-Its.

Yup, all that and a bag of chips

Y'all, it's almost time for the annual "Trunk or Treat" event at the poverty-battling nonprofit Martha O'Bryan Center in East Nashville. Is that a fun name or what?

“Trunk or Treat” is where children and parents or caregivers show up in costume at public housing complex Cayce Place. There are games and prizes, and volunteers fill car trunks with candy − and lots of it.

There'll be a special treat this year, and it ain't scary. In fact, it's delicious!

Nashville BBQ food truck (bus?) The Love Bus partnered with The Good Charcoal company to serve about 300 pulled pork sandwiches at this year's event. And yes, each sandwich comes with a bag of chips. (See? Bag o' chips? That's how I got my super-clever headline for this item! 👏👏👏)

It'll be the third time The Good Charcoal Company will be providing food at a Martha O'Bryan center event, COO Janet Silverman said.

"This community center is making huge strides in transforming this neighborhood," she said, "and we are thrilled to be a part of that and making a difference."

'What am I going to be able to do?'

Friends, I'd like you to meet 72-year-old Nashville real estate agent Lucy Smith, who'll do almost anything to put people in homes − and that includes building houses herself.

Shortly after becoming a realtor 20-something years ago, Lucy found out the city's realtors association built one home a year through Habitat for Humanity, which provides houses with interest-free mortgages for low-income folks.

At 50, Lucy thought, what am I going to be able to do? I'm probably going to do a lot of standing around.

Not so. Lucy found herself hammering, hauling stuff, putting up drywall and all sorts of tasks other volunteers showed her how to do. Lucy caught the bug, and she estimates she has been on 15 home builds since.

She even ended up on the Habitat board for quite a few years.

It all started with the first build, where Lucy got to work alongside the woman who's home they were building.

"What an amazing experience to see this person who’s going to have that home to raise their family in," she said.

Lucy is particularly proud to work for Fridrich & Clark Realty, which is sponsoring two homes this year. The company's next daylong Habitat volunteer sesh is Nov. 11.

"Our firm has been fortunate to be part of Nashville's extraordinary growth in significant ways, but for many in our community, this growth has presented challenges to homeownership," managing partner Steve Fridrich said.

"Supporting this build is a way we can uphold our neighbors, honor our agents and staff and give back to the community we love.”

Thank you!

I appreciate you joining me for another week of The Good News with Brad Schmitt. Would you like to have your friends join our Good News Crew? You know you would!

Have them sign up here.

Thanks for reading and dig into more feel-good stories below. 🧡

Expand All
Comments / 0
Add a Comment
Most Popular newsMost Popular

Comments / 0