The Williamson County Homeless Alliance (WCHA) is an organization that was created by Franklin Community Church and their nonprofit, Franklin Community Development (FDC). For several years before the creation of WCHA, FCD provided emergency shelter for people in our community who experience homelessness during the winter. As more and more people needed shelter, they decided to create a nonprofit whose main focus is tackling homelessness. Many other organizations helped the homeless in Williamson County, but there was not one where it was the main focus. WCHA was formed in response to that two years ago and works closely with Franklin Community Development. Kevin Riggs, Co-Founder and Executive Director explained the 2021 goals for WCHA, their upcoming projects, how COVID has affected them, their new purchase of the John and Joyce McMillian Home, and how you can help their organization.
A major goal that WCHA hopes to accomplish in 2021 is to open a transitional group home that will serve people with ambulatory disabilities who are facing homelessness. They are also in the process of developing their holistic program and their approach to dealing with homelessness. However, their main goal is to have a permanent homeless shelter in Franklin/Williamson County.
One of the upcoming projects that they are working on is the completion of the group home, which they are hoping to be completed by the end of the summer. Another upcoming project is finding a space to have a “day shelter” in Franklin. This would be a place people experiencing homelessness could come during the day to shower, get a meal, receive counseling, wash clothes, etc. Kevin is looking for thirty-one churches in our city or county that will host WCHA one night per month. When that happens, they can provide emergency shelter every day of the year. If you know any churches (big or small) who might be interested in this, please contact Kevin at 615.440.7553 or via email at email@example.com.
The last year has been especially hard for WCHA. Before COVID, when temperatures fell below thirty-two or above ninety, they were able to provide emergency shelter in churches. Once COVID hit, the churches that they were using closed and it created a problem as to where they can house these people. They ended up moving the shelters to hotels, but as expected, that proved to be very expensive. Another situation that WCHA had to deal with was the increase in the homeless population. More of our neighbors have ended up becoming homeless during this last year because of unemployment.
One solution to their problem of an increased percentage of homelessness was the purchase of the John and Joyce McMillian House. This house was named in honor of the parents of Rhonda Kemp who made a significant donation to their organization that enabled us to purchase the home. Once the restorations are complete, they will be able to house up to eight people. These people will be chosen based on the case manager’s assessment of their willingness to work towards self-sufficiency. This home will mainly house those with ambulatory disabilities that are experiencing homelessness.
Some ways to help the Williamson County Homeless Alliance is by donating to their organization. You can give by going to the giving page on their website, wilcohomeless.com. You can also give through texting. Simply text 1.502.650.9147. Then, in the text box, type “WCHAGIFT” and follow the instructions. WCHA is a 501c3 nonprofit, so all gifts are tax-deductible. WCHA also accepts donations of clothing, furniture, etc. As churches and group homes open back up, there will be a need for volunteers. Another thing you can do is donate gift cards from grocery stores and restaurants that they can give to the families they place in hotels. Finally, you can help them by asking Kevin to come speak to your church group, civic, club, etc.