In the Spring of 2002, a small group of women from First Baptist Church Nashville, calling themselves the Wild Group of Praying Women, were interested in the use of a vacant building in downtown Nashville. They began meeting to discuss and pray about ways to use this building to serve the less fortunate. A community survey of over thirty government and private agencies revealed that one of the largest unmet needs in Middle Tennessee was in the area of transitional housing and services for women ex-offenders.
Discussions with the landlord of the building led to an agreement to lease the facility to the newly formed agency, which was formally incorporated as the Downtown Ministry Center on March 4, 2003. By November 2003, the agency had received tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code.
Founders designed a Residential Transitional Program to address the physical, mental, and spiritual needs of women coming from incarceration. The nonprofit came to be known as “The Next Door” after organizers met with a local warden. He explained that when a woman had paid her dues to society and was ready for release, she would come to “ROLL UP ONE” – a huge, intimidating door that literally rolled open to allow her to walk out to freedom. All too often, the heartbreaking story then followed the same pattern. Too many women went directly back to old neighborhoods, so called “friends”, and addiction, and then returned to incarceration within months, if not weeks. The warden said, “It’s called recidivism.”
The heart of the founders’ work came together in that moment. We would pick women up at “Roll Up One” and offer them “The Next Door” to a new home, real friends, and the opportunity to experience a fresh start. “The Next Door” would offer women HOPE!
In November 2006 the legal name of the organization was officially changed to The Next Door, Inc.
At its new, state-of-the-art facility off of Charlotte Ave. in Nashville, The Next Door provides services to women who are impacted by addiction, mental illness, trauma and/or incarceration. In recognition of the common need among residents for mental health and addiction counseling, The Next Door provides an integrated model to address the co-occurring disorders. A professional team of counselors, case managers, nurse practitioners, masters level social work interns, mentors, and job coaches complete the staff to provide comprehensive coverage to residents’ needs. Services provided include Medically Monitored Detoxification, Residential Drug and Alcohol Treatment, Intensive Outpatient, Outpatient, Partial Hospitalization and a 6-month Re-Entry Program (REP).