These young men are now in their late 20’s and early 30’s and as they have matured, so has the organization. Through continuous fundraising efforts, the Foundation is hoping to develop much-needed programs including computer training, job counseling, social acculturation, educational scholarships and books, immigration and naturalization assistance, art training and materials, a fund for emergency assistance, and more. The needs are great, but just as great is the desire of the Foundation to meet those needs. We hope someday to see each of these young men receive the education they so desire and to be able to lead meaningful, productive lives. We want to help them become leaders who bring hope into the lives of their families and friends who are still struggling to survive.
In March of 2001, I met five Lost Boys of Sudan who came to reside in the parsonage belonging to the church I attended. We had turned the parsonage into housing for refugees and when World Relief came to us and requested to use it for these five young men, we were very excited about having them. Generally we would allow refugees to stay in the house for 2-3 months until they were employed and had permanent housing. In the case of the Lost Boys, it was different. These young men had not grown up with parents to teach them or love them. It was like we had become their parents. They came here with almost nothing but the clothes they were wearing and no money. They knew nothing about cooking on a stove, using a washing machine, can openers, televisions, or electricity. When their 2-3 months were up, we just couldn't let them go and they stayed in the parsonage for a year until we felt we could safely let them go. By now they had learned how to drive, had cell phones, and jobs. After they left, we would see them from time-to-time when they would return to visit, but our children were now on their own. In 2004, I received an email from a friend saying Jack Spencer was wanting to see if other Nashville residents would be interested in helping to form an organization to help the Lost Boys of Sudan. Jack, who is a nationally-known fine arts photographer, had been doing a portrait series of some of Nashville's Lost Boys when one of them was murdered. The Lost Boys didn't have funds to pay for his funeral and Jack and some of his friends took up money and matched what the Lost Boys had collected. After that experience, Jack came to a realization of the real needs some of these young men still had. I went to the meeting because I saw another opportunity to work with and help these wonderful young men. They've changed my life more than I've changed any of theirs. When I became a part of The Lost Boys Foundation of Nashville, I never dreamed it would be so difficult. Every day I talk with Lost Boys who are struggling to get an education, pay rent, have gas for their car, buy food, and find a job. There are so many needs and to be able to help takes money...lots of it. We opened the gallery in 2007 and in 2008 the economy began slipping. Donations dropped, sales of art dropped, and volunteers have come and gone. Cost of utilities increased, as did our rent. But the needs of the Lost Boys have remained. Some have been fortunate enough to get enrolled in school and many have graduated. That makes us very proud of them, but there are still many who do not have the financial aid to go to school. When their cars break down, they don't have the money to have it repaired. Then they can't get to work and they lose their jobs. Then they can't pay their rent or buy food. If we can help these young men to get a better education, help them with classes in English, computers, or help with tuition or books, we can make a big difference in their lives. With a better education comes better jobs and a better life. In addition to these things, it breaks my heart to know so many of these guys long to see their mothers and fathers, and brothers and sisters, but can't. Not only do they suffer from missing their families, they suffer from the trauma of their lives in Sudan when they had to walk for thousands of miles barefoot trying to reach the safety of refugee camps. They watched as their friends were attacked and eaten by wild animals, drowned in the river, were shot by soldiers, or died from starvation, dehydration, and disease. These memories still haunt them and most have never had any counseling to help them deal with the trauma. Hopefully the things we are trying to do at The Lost Boys Foundation will make a positive difference in their lives. It is that hope that keeps us struggling from day to day.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
The phenomenal growth of Tennessee’s foreign-born population, and the opportunities and challenges this has presented for newcomers and the state, has brought Tennessee into the national spotlight in recent years. During the 1990s, the foreign-born population in Nashville tripled. Meanwhile, the number of foreign-born people statewide grew by 169%, making our state a larger magnet for immigrants, by percentage, than larger cities like New York and Los Angeles. In the year 2000, 45% of Nashville’s foreign-born residents had been in the United States less than five years. Catholic Charities of Tennessee resettled 648 refugees in Middle TN in 2010 alone.
The United States stands out among nations as a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities. Demographers predict that by 2050, no single majority group will exist in the United States. Diversity is a key part of Middle Tennessee’s past, present and future. Nashville, especially, is a model of the American "melting pot," with an active Native American population, thriving Hispanic community and growing Middle Eastern and Asian presence. Different cultures, religions, ideas and customs come together harmoniously in Music City.
Copyright © 2014 The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
3833 Cleghorn Avenue, Nashville, TN 37215