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 – #GetBehindTheShield

Salvation Army Retail Makes Comeback

Thrifting with the Salvation Army is back, thank goodness.

After more than five years of having no Salvation Army stores in Nashville to shop in or donate to, as a result of the 2010 flood, a new Salvation Army Family Store has opened in Madison, and the “Army” is marching back into the local thrift picture.

“It’s a start: one store, one truck. And people have really responded in a positive way,” said Major Ed Lee, area commander for the Nashville Salvation Army district, which also includes Williamson, Dickson, Cheatham, Hickman and Sumner counties….

Read full story on The Tennessean

Comprehensive Music Program added to Red Shield Kids Club

The community continues to show its dedicated support for the inspiring work being done through The Salvation Army Nashville’s Red Shield Kids Club Program. A recent demonstration of this is a generous stream of funding from Country Music Association Foundation, Memorial Foundation and private donors, to support an all-new Music Program at Magness-Potter Community Center.

pianoThe comprehensive program
offers theory and hands-on experience with instruments for
children enrolled. It supports practice and fundamental exercises.

Angela McCrary, the Director of Music Programs for The Salvation Army Nashville, brings a wealth of talent, study and experience to the position. She has big plans for the curriculum and hit the ground running to find creative ways to instill a true joy of music in kids interested in music.

“It is so exciting discovering what the kids are already doing musically,” McCrary said.

McCrary, a Nashville native, comes from a musical family, (her Aunts are The McCrary Sisters and her grandfather was an original member of the Fairfield Four!), and joined the church choir at the age of 8-years-old. That same year, she began taking piano lessons. In middle school years, she began playing the flute and playing in the marching, concert and jazz bands until she graduated high school.

While attending college at Tennessee State University, McCrary sang in clubs, composed and produced music. She sold her first song at the age of 19.

In 2006, after working with several national and local artists and producers, McCrary expanded her knowledge base with coursework at SAE Institute of Technology and studied sound engineering and production. Soon, she opened her own studio and started an indie project in 2008. That project was nominated for an industry award.

McCrary then created a music program for children called, “The Inner City Music Program” that was picked up and implemented by the Boys & Girls Club, YMCA and Preston Taylor, of Nashville.

Since turning her focus toward extending her enjoyment of music to kids, she has found an added, personal reward.

“It’s my purpose…it really is,” said McCrary. At this point in my life, it is heartfelt. I know this is where I’m supposed to be.”






Volunteer Spotlight on Jed Dodd

Jed Dodd said is honored to serve on the Advisory Board of the Nashville Area Command. Dodd, who serves as the Nominating Committee Chair, comes from a two-generation Salvation Army family that dates back to the early 1920s. He even has his grandfather’s original marching orders from the same era, signed by Evangeline Booth. It hangs on the wall of his home study.

Jed-DoddDodd’s grandfather, grandmother and great-grandmother, on his father’s side of the family, have served for many years. His mom and dad even met at a Salvation Army function.  He vividly recalls going to Salvation Army church as a boy.

“My invitation to serve on the Advisory Board was an answer to many prayers of mine.”

In his role, Dodd engages people to become involved in the mission of The Salvation Army, by way of support and volunteerism for its programs and services in place to fight the poor.

“I have always held The Salvation Army in incredibly high esteem,” he said. “I simply cannot walk by a kettle without putting money in it.”

Judith Bracken to serve as new President of The Salvation Army Nashville's Women's Auxiliary

Judith Bracken Judith Bracken_Aux_2015said she is honored to serve as President of The Salvation Army Nashville’s Women’s Auxiliary and is always looking for new ways to serve Christ.  Her goal? To energize the Auxiliary even more and bring in new members.

An award-winning Christian poet, Bracken has published two books, “Holy Homes & Pious Poems” and “Warriors’ Wishes, Wisdoms & Wings.”

Bracken’s passions are writing, photography, art, jewelry design, languages, religion and science. She has lived in 17 cities, six states and three countries, and speaks three languages.

In the faith community, over the years, she has enjoyed teaching Sunday school, confirmation classes and serving as a lay reader and on altar guilds.

In the workforce, she has enjoyed service as a board member of 10 years, working with Michael W.Smith’s Rocketown. In the community, she supports  other community organizations, like, the Ballet, Symphony, Frist Center, Opera, Cheekwood/Horticultural Society, and more.

More about Bracken and book information,



FY2014 Annual Report to the Community

Dear Friends of The Salvation Army,

We are pleased to share with you The Salvation Army’s 2014 Annual Report to the Community. As you look over this report, you will note the thousands of lives that were touched by the many programs and ministries of The Army over this past year.   FY2014_Annual_Report_to_the_Community_Web

FY2014_Cover ArtBehind each statistic is a story of lives that have been changed and lifted from where they were, to a place of stability and independence.

The Salvation Army has great plans for 2015!

This year marks the 125th year of service for The Army in the Nashville community. With a concentration of five priority areas, The Salvation Army will be able to fulfill the vision of a new Corps-Community Center in South Nashville, revitalizing of programs in Northeast Nashville, additional building and programs in Madison, restoration of the thrift store enterprise, and more awareness and donor engagement for
greater service in the Nashville area.

The Salvation Army is indebted to all those who have supported us this past year with financial resources, volunteerism, and in-kind donations. Your continued support helps us to continue our mission of meeting human needs in the name of Christ.

Thank you again for your support of The Salvation Army as we work each day to “lift those in need” in our community.

God bless you.



Grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield and The United Way adds “SPARK” to Red Shield Kids Club Program

Grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield and The United Way
adds “SPARK” to Red Shield Kids Club Program

Thanks to the generosity of Blue Cross Blue Shield and The United Way, The Salvation Army Nashville is taking part in an innovative pilot program aimed at combating child obesity. It’s called, “SPARK,” and it’s all about Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids.

With SPARK, kids who participate in programs at our Magness-Potter Community Center, enjoy enhanced components to their current activities, designed to promote lifelong wellness.


Staff enjoy the training component SPARK provided to help us maximize the program benefits for the kids!

Wrapped into the program is a coordinated teacher package packed with support, ideas and materials to foster environmental and behavioral changes for youth, and, it even extends into the home.

Healthy snacks served in our after school and summer programs are sent home in abundance to share with the entire family, allowing kids on the SPARK track the chance to share what they have learned about a healthy, active lifestyle with family members and make wiser, healthier snack
choices at home.

Since 1989, SPARK has provided curriculum materials, teacher training, and consultation to over 100,000 teachers and youth leaders, representing many thousands of schools, organizations, and agencies worldwide.

To help support The Salvation Army programs at work in Nashville, please visit:
To learn more about SPARK, visit:

There is something going on at Berry Street

The Nashville Salvation Army’s Berry Street Corps is a place where people gather to share, sing, hug and worship. Sometimes one happens without the other. Its services are anything but traditional. Firstly, there’s no sermon; instead it is based on open participation, which naturally spawns life lessons based in scripture. There are no pews, with chairs set out in semi-circular, imperfect patterns to encourage interaction. Each service seems to take on its own shape too, as it uniquely unfolds.

Under the leadership of Sergeants Steve and Ernie Simms, it is done that way with an important purpose in mind. The door is open to anyone in need of a good dose of acceptance, friendship and faith. People come for the welcome feeling and “support group” atmosphere to bond, work things out and find peace.

“Sometimes people will stand up and share their personal story and ask for a prayer,” said Sergeant Steve Simms. “Some break down. It’s beautiful to see the other people there get up and go over and lay their hands on them to pray.”

The worship program simply states that Berry Street is ‘a place to believe, belong and become.’

“We do a lot of walking out life with people, situations that are hard to imagine sometimes surrounding food, clothing, housing issues,” said Sergeant Ernie Simms, “…and, sometimes kids who don’t have a place to live or are hungry.”

The services are held each Sunday at 10:45 a.m. On any given week, 100 people will move in and out of its welcoming doors, with services bringing in about 65 people to worship each week. Prior to each service, bible study is held at 9:30 a.m. Refreshments are served to all who attend.

“One of the coolest things is that we have between 20 and 30 kids each week and about six volunteer adult leaders who work with them,” she said.

On Sundays, the kids, mostly from the surrounding neighborhood near its location at 225 Berry Street in Nashville, often arrive almost two hours prior to the day’s happenings. “Nearly all the kids walk there from the neighborhood and are eager to arrive.”

Often they bring friends, and the complimentary meal for 20 quickly becomes 60. Sometimes members of the local homeless community will come in to eat. “Everyone is invited to the meal.”

They do all this with understandably minimal tithing support from the congregation. “We don’t pass a plate for the offering,” Sergeant Simms said.
That’s when their friends step up.

“The support from our communities is just wonderful and amazing,” said Sergeant Simms.

And the spiritual ‘magic’ happens for the benefit of others in the most need in miraculous ways.

School uniforms are found for kids that tell them they need clothes. Shoes are bought for several basketball players. Sometimes they turn to social media with a call and the need comes through.

Berry Street also opens its doors to serve a complimentary meal to guests from the neighborhood, once a month. Weekly prayer meetings held 6 p.m. on Tuesdays draw anywhere between four and 20 people.

Berry Street also takes its worship meetings out of its church and into the community on Thursdays, reaching about 20 students each week at Trevecca University. The Sergeants even take their mission to the streets literally, by walking in the neighborhood from time to time with the neighborhood kids, carrying a full-sized Salvation Army flag.

Learn more about ways to get involved with and support Berry Street Corps and your Nashville Salvation Army’s other ministry outreach Corps here.


Nashville listeners asked to build Toy Field to benefit Nashville Salvation Army’s estimated 1,000 Forgotten Angels

Nashville listeners asked to build Toy Field
to benefit Nashville Salvation Army’s estimated 1,000 Forgotten Angels

WHO: The Salvation Army Nashville and Cumulus Nashville’s NASH FM 103.3, 95.5 NASH ICON, 104-5 The Zone, Super Talk 99.7 WTN, i106 and 92Q

WHEN: Tuesday, December 9, 2014 — 6:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

WHERE: LP Field, Eastside between Gates 1& 2

The Salvation Army Forgotten Angel Program will benefit from the toys donated at the 7th Annual Toy Field presented by Cumulus Nashville on Tuesday, December 9th at LP Field. Middle Tennessee listeners and client partners will help fulfill the dreams of many “forgotten children” this holiday season. This holiday, The Salvation Army will reach over 9,000 “angels” – less fortunate children and elderly. According to Major Ed Lee, Area Commander – The Salvation Army Nashville Area Command, several hundreds of those “angels” will not be adopted.

To ensure each child has a special Christmas, the Forgotten Angel shop will provide gifts. “Thousands of toys have been donated throughout the years and we hope to see the same enthusiasm this year. We would not be able to provide for all these children, without the support of Cumulus Broadcasting and our community,” said Major Ed Lee, Area Commander The Salvation Army Nashville Area Command.

Cumulus_Sponsor artAbout The Salvation Army Nashville: The Salvation Army, a faith-based non-profit serving Nashville since 1890, extends assistance to individuals and families in greatest need, enabling them to lift themselves from crisis to stability. Nearly 40,000 individuals in the Nashville community receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a broad array of social services that range from emergency services, disaster relief for victims, outreach to the elderly and ill, transitional housing for the homeless, opportunities for underprivileged children, Angel Tree Christmas assistance and much more. Seventy-eight cents of every dollar spent is used to directly support our programs and services in our community. For more information, visit Donate here.

About Cumulus Media: Cumulus Media (NASDAQ: CMLS) combines high-quality local programming with iconic, nationally syndicated media, sports and entertainment brands in order to deliver premium choices for listeners, provide substantial reach for advertisers and create opportunities for shareholders. As the largest pure-play radio broadcaster in the United States, Cumulus provides exclusive content that is fully distributed through approximately 460 owned-and-operated stations in 90 U.S. media markets (including eight of the top 10), more than 9,000 broadcast radio affiliates and numerous digital channels. Cumulus is well-positioned in the widening digital audio space through a significant stake in the Radio digital music service, featuring over 30 million songs on-demand in addition to custom playlists and exclusive curated channels. Cumulus is also the leading provider of country music and lifestyle content through its ‎NASH brand, which will serve country fans through radio programming, NASH magazine, concerts, licensed products and television/video. For more information, visit

Contact: Laura Tingo
Director of Marketing
The Salvation Army
Cell: 615.403.5595

Contact: Marie Miscia
Promotions Director
Cumulus Nashville
Office: 615. 312.3473