When others won’t take a chance, Barnabas Vision reaches out to those who are lost and hurting to help them discover that they can add to the fabric of our society in a positive way. The non-profit organization works to prevent homelessness by partnering with those who are at a heightened risk by providing rent and utility assistance, security deposit support, seasonal clothing, and tax relief.
“Through community programs like Adopt-a-Grandparent, Adopt-a-Teen, and regularly scheduled visits to various healthcare facilities,” said David Coggin, Executive Director, “we build enriching relationships with vulnerable members of our community.
Barnabas Vision believes that with increased knowledge the vulnerable can thrive, so they offer classes on budgeting, faith-centered study, emotional support, and relationship building.
“I started the organization because I wanted to meet the many needs in the community,” said Coggin. “I spent time in the United Kingdom as a missionary, which made me want to encourage and uplift people who were struggling. We try to help [those struggling] in our community as much as we can, both emotionally and financially. We mostly help with utilities and rent, host classes, and do community events.”
Coggin chose the name from the Bible because Barnabas is known as the ‘son of encouragement.’ He gave people second and third chances. He believed in people when no one else did. He saw their future potential. and tried not to focus on their past mistakes.
He began the organization in August of 2011. Barnabas Vision works closely with Greenhouse Ministries, Journey Home, Read to Succeed, local churches, Murfreesboro City Schools, Community Helpers, Mid-Cumberland Human Resource Agency, and others.
“[We get together with] Mid-Cumberland and Community quarterly to talk, said Coggin. “[I also meet with] other organizations … on a regular basis to see how we can help each other to effectively help our community, and the people we serve.”
Success stories are what keep Coggin, his staff, and their Board of Directors moving forward.
“I most remember the client who came when I was fairly new at Barnabas Vision and alone for a few minutes in the building” said Coggin. “She was crying and said, ‘I know you can’t help me, nobody can help me. I’m going to go home and kill myself.’ I prayed hard and fast to be given the right words to say to her. I asked her what she needed help with. It was her rent, she was going to be evicted and homeless without help. I took down her information, told her I would be talking to my executive director about helping her, and did she believe she could hold on for one more day with that hope? She promised she could. I also made an appointment for her to speak with a counselor the next day, and I gave her the suicide hotline number. Later that day I called her to check in on her. Sometimes people just need HOPE.”
There are dozens of stories Coggin shares about the hope that he has been able to give to people through Barnabas Vision. But it is learning that their help made a positive impact that makes him smile. Like the time he was in a shoe store, and the person behind him in line recognized him, told him that what they did for her family, and that they were doing well.
Even with all of their success, with all of the population growth in the county, the need for help is increasing.
“In 2011, [Barnabas Vision] started with me and several wonderful volunteers serving the community in various ways — nursing home visits, teaching classes, running a self-esteem camp that my wife organized, and helping people … financially to stay in their … things. One program that has grown [the most], and is our largest budget expenditure, is our preventing homeless piece.”
With so many people in need, Coggin and his Board of Directors have developed a set of criteria they use to help them to help their clients.
“We sometimes receive 120 phone calls for assistance,” said Coggin, “and we can only help a portion of them, but we do try to give them other resources [when we can’t help]. What we can offer is classes. Most of the classes [that we teach] are not offer at any other organization, or at the times we offer them. We also partner with other organizations, like Greenhouse.”
To continue to meet the various and growing needs in the community, Coggin and his team are continuously looking for and finding new ways that help people, without enabling them.
“We hope people will bring their own talents to the table,” added Coggin, “and we even hope they will create their own ministry ideas that we can help them develop to help the community.”
One of their biggest challenges is follow-through.
“Even though we have a great LIFE program,” said Coggin, “we want to be more intentional about keeping connections with our clients.”
Always looking for new ideas and new volunteers, those interested in becoming a part of this ministry can contact David Coggin or Michael Miller, via email at [email protected] and [email protected], respectively. Or reach them by phone at (615) 556 5134. Learn more at barnabasvision.org.