#LifeJustRight is Life in Community

Reflecting the Quality of Community in the Lives of Others Increases the Quality of Life of Us.  This is #LifeJustRight.

Nashville is the “It” City.  A small town exploding with energy, population growth and housing costs has now experiencing the highest rise in cost of living in the country.[1]  The strength of Nashville continues to be the strength of community.  Neighbors who wave along the roadway are welcoming those from around the country looking “home.”  A home is much more than housing, a home is a place of community.  Society is gaining understanding that our strength is found in our connections to each other.  An element of stable housing and community resilience is social capital.

Social capital (like human capital and even physical capital) is not a single, uni-dimensional variable. Rather, there are many forms of social capital, and different forms have different consequences. [2]

  • bonding social capital (that is, links among people who are like one an- other) is important for “getting by,”
  • bridging social capital (that is, links among people who are unlike one another) is crucial for “getting ahead,”
  • linking social capital (that is, vertical links to people in positions of authority) plays a special role in development and poverty alleviation.

I love how God calls us into community. A faith community that challenges us to love because God loves us and not because others agree with us. We love because we know love from being loved and thus love is our only response. (1 Jn 4)

Nashville’s Red Shield Community has been loving people into and through community since 1940. Community is the response to God’s love. The Salvation Army came to Nashville in 1890. Fifty years later the Red Shield Community came to North Edgefield, what is today Nashville East.

The Red Shield Community Campus is the place to belong, engage, and live #LifeJustRight.  The Red Shield Communities are campuses of Salvation Army Worship & Service, where Music City Miracles Shine. Please join us in Community! Be the Us.  Let us build social capital together.

There are many kinds of social capital: [3]

  • financial – Money available for investment
Real estate, equipment, and/or infrastructure
  • physical – Training that increases productivity on the job
  • human – Relationships of trust embedded in social networks
  • cultural – High cultural knowledge that can be turned to the owner’s socioeconomic advantage

Social capital is recognized as an individual and a collective property.  Many researchers take it for granted that social capital is collective, but most social surveys implicitly measure social capital at the individual level.[4]  Here is the ideal-typical situation in which individuals discover and use social capital: a group of people become connected via a certain kind of relations, and regardless of the exact nature of their relations, the members find that something possessed or produced by the group either itself is a valuable asset or can help them acquire other desirable benefits.

Three things in this situation are recognized as social capital, which overlap on top of each other: [5]

  • group membership
  • features of the relationship
  • resources under the control of the group or dependent on the existence of the group.

At the core of social capital is trust with three crucial elements:

  • Repeat exposure to others tends to lead to greater confidence that others can be trusted (assuming that parties respect conditions 2 and 3 below);
  • The parties are honest in their communications; and
  • The parties follow through on the commitments they make.

Individual social capital is defined by three dimensions: [7]

  • the (number of) connections in the individual social network
  • the resources these connections give access to
  • the availability of these resources from alters to the individual, of which the willingness of alters is a major component.

On this basis, we define an individual’s social capital here as: [8]

The collection of resources owned by the members of an individual’s personal social network, which may become available to the individual as a result of the history of these relationships.  #LifeJustRight is found in connections, in networks that bring forth relationships that make the whole community stronger.  

Reflecting the Quality of Community in the Lives of Others Increases the Quality of Life of Us.
This is #LifeJustRight.

Putnam, recognized in 2013 with a National Humanities Medal, further explains social capital:

  • social capital is the degree to which a given state is either high or low in the number of meetings citizens go to,
  • the level of social trust its citizens have,
  • the degree to which they spend time visiting one another at home,
  • the frequency with which they vote,
  • the frequency with which they do volunteering, and so on.

Practical individual and community relevance of social capital can be found in these three examples: [10]

  • Education – relationship between educational performance and social capital is much stronger, two orders of magnitude stronger than, for example again controlling for everything else spending on schools or teacher/pupil ratios or any of the obvious things that are more usually thought to increase educational performance.
  • Crime is strongly negatively predicted by social capital; this is true at the statelevel, but it is also true at the community and neighborhood levels. Once again the strongest predictor of the murder rate is a low level of social capital.
  • Happiness increases with both individual’s and their state’s measure of social capital. By contrast, an individual’s measure of happiness rises if his or her income is higher but falls if the average state income is higher.

Happiness increases when we are “US”.  This is the culture of The Salvation Army.  The Salvation Army invites and assists the marginalized with participating in the center of society, the center of the economy, and the center of the environment.

Reflecting the Quality of Community in the Lives of Others Increases the Quality of Life of Us.
This is #LifeJustRight.

Practical Implications:

Social capital is a right and reasonable consideration in the resourcing of housing stability.  Consideration of social capital should be integrated in the individual assessment.   There are scenarios where it is in the individual and community interest to resource individuals to reconcile with a community of their greater social capital. [11]  

[1]  http://www.tennessean.com/story/money/real-estate/2017/07/11/nashville-ranked-nations-hottest-single-family-housing-market/466627001/ Accessed July 12, 2017

[2] Using Social Capital to Help Integrate Planning Theory, Research, and Practice: Preface.” Accessed January 14, 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01944360408976369.

[3] “Using Social Capital to Help Integrate Planning Theory, Research, and Practice: Preface.” Accessed January 14, 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01944360408976369.

[4] Survey Research Methods (2007)

http://w4.ub.uni-konstanz.de/srm ⃝c European Survey Research Association Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 19-27

[5] Survey Research Methods (2007)

http://w4.ub.uni-konstanz.de/srm ⃝c European Survey Research Association Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 19-27

[6] “SK Building Toolkit Version 1.1.doc – Skbuildingtoolkitversion1.2.pdf.” Accessed January 15, 2014. http://www.hks.harvard.edu/saguaro/pdfs/skbuildingtoolkitversion1.2.pdf.

[7] “WHF9_Snijders_vdGaag.pdf.” Accessed January 15, 2014. http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~snijders/WHF9_Snijders_vdGaag.pdf.

[8] “WHF9_Snijders_vdGaag.pdf.” Accessed January 15, 2014. http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~snijders/WHF9_Snijders_vdGaag.pdf.

[9] “BIM_initiative_overview.pdf.” Accessed January 15, 2014. http://www.gulfcoastcf.org/documents/BIM_initiative_overview.pdf.

[10] “1825848.pdf.” Accessed January 15, 2014. http://www1.oecd.org/edu/innovation-education/1825848.pdf.

[11] Of course there is also consideration with vulnerability assessment, strength based assessment, and hope indexes.

[12] “Homelessness Resource Center – Resource Vulnerability Index: Prioritizing the Street Homeless Population by Mortality Risk.” Accessed January 18, 2014. http://homeless.samhsa.gov/resource/vulnerability-index-prioritizing-the-street-homeless-population-by-mortality-risk-46408.aspx.

[13] “Iriss-Insight-16.pdf.” Accessed January 18, 2014. http://www.iriss.org.uk/sites/default/files/iriss-insight-16.pdf.

“CapacityInventoriesFull.doc – CapacityInventories(1).pdf.” Accessed January 18, 2014. http://www.abcdinstitute.org/docs/CapacityInventories(1).pdf.


Growing Up Behind the Shield: Reggion’s Journey

“How are you today, Ms. Ernie?” Reggion says while reminding his two younger siblings to buckle up as they are picked up by Sgt. Ernie Simms of Berry Street Corps on their way to a corps activity.

“He is an amazing kid”, says Sgt. Ernie Simms. She states that “Reggion is a quiet, but true leader, choosing to lead by example rather than by words, and as a Junior Soldier, acting as the conscience of his youth program at Berry Street, letting the other children know when they are not living up to the standards and principles of Christian living according to what’s expected.”

Reggion has been attending the Red Shield Kids Club since he was 6 years old, has been a member of the Berry Street Corps since its founding in 2008, and is a founding member of the Youth Band “Red Shield”, which started in the fall of 2015 thanks to a grant from the CMA Foundation.

It is here, in the “Red Shield”, that a 12 year old boy that had never held an instrument went from knowing nothing to being able to play three instruments within a year and a half. According to Angela McCrary, “Reggion is an incredible kid, one of the diamonds in the rough who truly blossomed within the music program. He has a natural affinity, and ear, for music that he did not know he possessed. I had to keep telling him he could do it in the very beginning when he wanted to give up on learning the drum set, within a month he had learned to keep a basic beat rhythm.” At that point, his cousin was learning the bass guitar, and Reggion was assisting him in learning the music, and ended up teaching himself how to play the bass guitar as well.

Reggion is one of seven children in his family, and strives to remain a positive role model and influence to his two younger siblings, even though he did not have this himself, as some of his older siblings have either dropped out of school or had various issues within the legal system. Add to this, his family has just, within the last two weeks, secured housing after two years of moving from various hotels, shelters, and family members couches while trying to overcome homelessness. He is currently on summer break, and looking to gain employment, even though he is only 14 years old, in order to help his family as they rebuild their home in their new apartment. During these trying times, it is truly inspirational that Reggion remains as steady and focused as he does on his school work, music, and church activities.

Reggion has never known a life that did not involve The Salvation Army, as many of his siblings and family, have been involved with various programs and services for the last 20 years at the Magness Potter Community Center. He has found shelter from a turbulent life Behind the Shield, and role models to provide a glimpse of what a successful future can be for him in people like Carlos Lowe, Director of the Red Shield Kids Club (RSKC), Angela McCrary, Director of the RSKC Music Program, and Sgts. Steve and Ernie Simms, Corps Officers for the Berry St. Corps.

Reggion will be aging out of the “Red Shield” band this year, but he is keeping his love of music going by joining his schools concert band, where he was asked to play the saxophone this past year, and attending the International Education Foundation Music Camp this summer. He also secured a gig playing the drums at a local church for a few months. This newly fostered love of music is something that will follow him throughout his life, and is a true skill on which he can capitalize in the future in terms of employment, community outreach, and spreading the word of Jesus.

From Barely Managing to Manager: Erica’s Success Story

Erica* and her family were introduced to The Salvation Army Transitional Housing Program through our partnership with the Metro Social Services Coordinated Entry System after becoming homeless while fleeing from domestic violence. Through weekly meetings with her Salvation Army Case Manager, Erica set goals that would get her financially stable, further her education, and allow her to regain permanent housing and a stable environment for her family through other Salvation Army programs and connections with partner agencies. She was able to use these resources to begin work on attaining her GED and receive more in-depth job training. She and her family were also able to begin healing from their past trauma through connections with counseling and mental health services.

Because of the work put in by Erica, with support from her case manager, she not only obtained a job, but has recently been promoted to Manager, which has enabled her to pay off over $2000 in debt. The Salvation Army was able to assist with meeting her final goal of finding a safe and stable home near her children’s school and her work. We provided the housing deposit and utility fee for move in, as well as, furnishings for the new home. She and her family will continue to receive Salvation Army services through our Red Shield Kids Club After School and Summer Day Camp programs, as well as, periodic check-ins by our Case Management Team. We are very proud of Erica and her success in changing her life while living Behind the Shield.

*Names are changed to protect the client.

One Man’s Journey from Cocaine to Christ and Beyond…

For Anthony Holmes it all seemed so simple.

“I had the attitude that I am already in trouble, so I guess I should get the most out of it,” he said.

Raised in Nashville by a single mother who worked two jobs to support him and his brother, Holmes often felt alone. It was that way when the family moved around to several homes during his youth.

Annual visits from his father at Christmas didn’t help. It was no different when, for a time, his mother remarried, which led to an unhealthy home life, or when she signed over his rights to the state because he wasn’t willing to move with her to Atlanta. Even his own marriage and the thought he might be a father failed to change things.

Always, though, he found comfort and support (or so he thought) on the streets.

“My mom was a hard worker and she was doing all she could do as a single parent, and I wasn’t thankful because I was dealing with some hurt,” Holmes said. “So I hooked up with some people on the street who were in gangs, smoked some weed, drank, partied … they were older and when I went out with them, I finally found a place that I could release my hurt.”

Holmes was a good basketball and football player, but he couldn’t stay out of trouble or in school. Eventually, cocaine became his drug of choice and despair his constant companion.

“I felt like dying numerous times,” he said. “I stared down the barrel of a gun and something just would not let me pull the trigger. I overdosed on drugs and that didn’t do it. I would drink like crazy and that wouldn’t do it.”

He was in an out of prison for a time and faced an extended stay on a drug charge when things finally changed.

First, he noticed the positive effect the jailhouse minister seemed to have on many inmates. One day he listened to and talked with the man but remained unconvinced until later that night when, he said, God personally paid him a visit.

“The Lord came and dealt with me and told me to repent to the Lord and to apologize to the minister because the Lord had sent him to help me,” Holmes said. “That is the first time that someone stood up in my face and told me whatever god I had wasn’t working, and that I needed to get the real God.”

At that point, Holmes turned his life over to Christ. He said he finally was able to forgive himself and began to forgive others who had hurt him.

He wasn’t determined just to get out of prison. He decided he also needed to find a way off the streets.

A fellow inmate, someone he knew from the outside, recognized the change. “I see the Lord in you” he told Holmes as he handed him an application for the Salvation Army. Holmes attended a presentation about the transitional housing program and other resources the organization offers.

“I sent in that application and prayed on it, but I still had to go to court,” Holmes said. “One of the district attorneys didn’t want me to get out, but I had a chance to speak and told the judge that Jesus had changed my life and I would be thankful if I got another chance.

“I told the judge that I had done some bad things, but I was not the same person. I now had a relationship with the Lord and I just asked the court to have mercy.”

Convinced that Holmes was, in fact, in good company, the judge granted his release. He caught the bus and went directly to the downtown Salvation Army facility and checked into the Transitional Housing program.

Out of prison, he soon crossed paths again with two significant people.

First was April Calvin, Transitional Housing Program Director, who had made the Salvation Army presentation that convinced him to apply. Together they mapped out a set of goals for Holmes and settled on a plan for how to achieve them.

Then there was Pastor Scales, the man whose obvious impact on other prisoners first attracted his attention. Pastor Scales took Holmes shopping for clothes and other necessities to get him started.

“He is such a blessing to me,” Holmes said. “And I just love Ms. April. She just has a caring spirit about her and it just blessed me. She really wants to see people change and get the help they need. She and the other counselors would work overtime if they needed to in order to help you.”

Next, he needed a job but he was unwilling to take just anything. Committed to weekly attendance at
church, he turned down an offer from one prominent downtown Nashville hotel because it could not guarantee he would not work on Sunday.

Then he found Demos’ Restaurant.

“When I was filling out the application at Demos’, I read that they honor and glorify God. And, they would work with me on my schedule so I could go to church on Sundays,” he said. “The Lord had changed me and I wanted to stay faithful and honor Him.”

He started as a dishwasher making $8 an hour and could not have been happier.

A couple promotions followed and soon he had earned enough that he began to look for a place of his own, which was not easy. He confided to a friend at church that he was unable to find a suitable home because of his prison record. What happened the next time they saw one another was the last thing Holmes expected.

“My friend came up to me and said ‘You aren’t going to believe this, but the lady I have been renting to for eight years is relocating, so the Lord told me to rent my house to you,” he recalled. “But it is in Murfreesboro.’”

No problem. Two weeks earlier Holmes had received a pre-owned car from his pastor. He drove to Murfreesboro for a Bible study, met the people at the Murfreesboro Demos’ and promptly requested a transfer, which was approved.

The money was good. The work, though, was not wholly satisfying. Holmes wanted to do more than just make a living for himself, he wanted to make a difference in others’ lives.

“I went to Bible study and Peter (Demos) came up to me and said he wanted to create a new position for me – Ambassador for Christ – and that I should pray about it,” Holmes said. “I told him that I didn’t need to pray about it because I had already been praying for over a year for it.”

In his new role, Holmes visits all five of the Demos’ restaurants across Middle Tennessee and helps the employees with challenges they may have by sharing his experiences and testimony.

“I never force it on anyone and I always approach them with love,” Holmes said. “Whether it is love or prayer or encouragement, I just enjoy people and I want to help them. I smile a lot, so that helps draw people to me. I always encourage them that there is a way out and that God still loves them in spite of their pain.”

In addition to his work at Demos’, Holmes also ministers and preaches at other churches and in jails. He also serves as a Program Committee Member for the Salvation Army.

“I am so thankful for the Salvation Army, because that is where it began for me,” he said. “The Salvation Army gave someone like me who was hopeless and helpless a foundation and a safe haven. It gave me the resources and an opportunity to get on the right path.

“I have met others who have also been blessed and now have their families back on track thanks to the generosity of those who give to the Salvation Army. You may never know whose life you may touch, but now I am one of those people who gets to go touch someone else’s life with the love that you gave me.”

He still stops by the Salvation Army in Nashville every chance he gets to remind himself of where his life started.

Along the way he also came to an important realization. He never really was alone.

Even as a boy, throughout his darkest moments his grandmother, whom he called Granny, delivered a consistent message. “The Lord loves you and he has a plan for you,” she told him over and over. “Before I got locked up – my Granny told me she couldn’t wait to hear me preach my first sermon,” he said. “I thought my Granny must be high to think I am going to preach a sermon. She would tell me my whole life, ‘You are going to minister.’

“We stay on the phone and have a good time and I know it makes her day when we can talk about the Lord. My Granny never gave up on me.”

The Salvation Army – Nashville Area Command

The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.
For more information about the Salvation Army and learn how you can get behind the shield, visit
SalvationArmyNashville.org – #GetBehindTheShield