Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams-Paisley, in association with Belmont University, are excited to announce they are spearheading a unique and new non-profit for the Nashville area. The Store will operate as a free-referral based grocery store, allowing people in need to shop with dignity for their basic needs. It aims to empower individuals seeking self-sufficiency.
The Store is inspired by the Unity Shoppe, located in Santa Barbara, CA, where the Paisleys spend some of their time. After working in the shop, they saw first-hand the impact it has on people, including the volunteers.
“We took our boys to Unity Shoppe to teach them about serving others and giving back to people in need,” says Paisley. “And we came away surprised by what the organization had taught us. Most people don’t want handouts. They want dignity and respect. Most people want to become self-sufficient.”
“We loved seeing parents making choices for their own families,” Williams-Paisley says, “rather than receiving a bag of food they might not necessarily want or need. We got very excited about bringing the concept of a free grocery store back home to our Nashville community.”
Adds Paisley, “We want The Store to be a cheerful, safe place for volunteers as well as for people who are struggling. We want those who are referred to our program to show up and feel dignity.”
The Paisleys have partnered with Brad’s alma mater, Belmont University, on the location of The Store at 2005 12th Ave. South, next to the University’s Ministry Center. In 2018-19, Belmont will be piloting Healthcare and Legal Aid Ministry Clinics. Both groups look forward to working closely together to serve the broader community in a range of ways. The location is convenient to bus routes and in the heart of Nashville’s ever-growing 12 South district.
Belmont University President Dr. Bob Fisher says, “At Belmont we believe that the greatest privilege that anyone can ever have is to be in a position to help and serve another person. Brad and Kim are living out that mission in an extraordinary fashion in every aspect of their lives, particularly through the creation of The Store. We are proud to partner with them on this initiative, and I’m excited to watch as our current students pour their gifts and abilities into supporting the needs of The Store’s patrons.”
The Store will partner with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and others to provide perishable and nonperishable offerings. All food in The Store will follow guidelines set by dieticians from Second Harvest Food Bank. Individuals and families will be referred by nonprofit and government agencies for a term of one year. The initial goal is to serve 3,000 people per year.
Nashville-based architectural firm Earl Swensson Associates has donated their services to design The Store. Ground breaking is projected for 2019.
The “Brick By Brick Campaign” will raise funds for construction of the storefront and establish enough funding to meet the proposed operational needs for food. The goal is to have $500,000 before groundbreaking with a total construction target of $1.2 million. The Paisleys announced on Tuesday that they will be donating an initial gift to kick off the capital campaign. Donations are accepted via the website at www.thestore.org.
“If a major donor would like to partner and help us fund the building, we would be honored to put their name in bold letters at the top of it,” says Paisley.
The Board of Trustees for The Store include Brad Paisley, President; Megan Zarling, Chair; Pete Fisher, Vice-Chair; Doug Paisley, Secretary and Elaine Bryan, Treasurer. Other board members include Sarah Cates, Jaynee Day, Hope Fisher, David Minnigan, John Zarling, Olivia Munn, John Schario, Scott Scovill, Michael Stagg, Becca Stevens and Kimberly Williams-Paisley. Executive Director is Gina Hancock.