WKRN – Nashville Recovery Center Focuses On Helping Women In Crisis

The Contributor – Women’s Day On The Hill Draws Crowd

Several hundred participants turned up for Women’s Day on the Hill March 8 full of energy and a sense of empowerment.

Presented by The Business and Professional Women of Tennessee Inc., the “2017 Tennessee Women’s Policy and Action Day on the Hill” worked with partners to make the day, on International Women’s Day, a success for the several hundred who participated.

Partners included Tennessee Women Political Caucus; Women’s Political Collaborative of Tennessee; Advocates for Women’s and Kid’s Equality; Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence; Healthy and Free Tennessee; Memphis Area Women’s Council; Contracts for Women Inc.; A Better Balance; AAUW-Tennessee; YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee; Nashville Feminist Collective; Tennessee Women Chamber of Commerce; The Next Door; Native American Indian Association of Tennessee; Exodus Inc., and other women’s organizations.

Event organizer Zulfat Suara said since the beginning of this century, the day has experienced low turnout but the resurgence is no surprise considering anti-women legislation at hand. The measures are anti-reproductive rights, anti-refugee, and anti-public health care, she said.

“The significance for 2017 is that due to the political climate, many women are active and ready to be involved,” Suara said. “It is important for our legislators to hear from the constituent and how they feel about these bills.”

The day this year began with a group breakfast, featuring House Speaker Beth Harwell followed by break out groups to visit with legislators, then a group lunch and more visits. The day concluded with a women’s rights rally.

Alison Cooke, communications director for The Next Door (Credit: Ashley Heeney)

One participant of the event was Alison Cooke, communications director of The Next Door, an addiction treatment center especially for women, and one of the only gender-specific centers in the area. The center accepts pregnant women and provides treatment for uninsured individuals like the homeless.

“The idea of this group to get behind one another and me a stronger voice for issues that affect women is extremely important,” Cooke said. The Next Door has joined the fight against the state’s opioid epidemic.

“Beth Harwell has put together a task force on the issue,” Cooke said, adding  that The Next Door would love to be part of it. “Our bottom line is that we want to help women and help stop overdoses. We want women to reach out to us for help and we would welcome the support from our representatives in making sure that Tennessee women know they have someone to call (at) 1-855-TND-HOPE.”

Anna Carella, co-director of Healthy and Free Tennessee, also participated in advocacy day.

“Healthy and Free Tennessee believes that people, including homeless, should have the freedom to make choices about their health that are in the best interest of their families free from government coercion or intrusion. Being pro-choice is being pro-family,” Carella said.

“What was alarming about Rep. (Matthew) Hill’s defense of his bill (HB 1189) today is that he believes that the government should override science and medical facts in determining fetal viability. He is also confusing case law and constitutional right. Just because legislation hasn’t been challenged yet in another state – he mentioned a law in Ohio – doesn’t mean it’s constitutional,” she said.

“As Rep. Clemmons said during testimony, the cumulative effect of all of these restrictions including other bills from 2012 and 2015 is undue burden on women seeking abortion. This bill will end up in court and is a waste of taxpayer money.”

“We know that access to contraception, not abortion restrictions, lowers abortion rates,” Carella said. “We need legislators to focus on making contraception more affordable and accessible for Tennesseans, not finding new ways to restrict abortion access.

“The biggest barrier [of the day] unfortunately is that some of our legislators have made up their mind to vote a certain way, and do not listen to reason and the voices of the people,” Suara said. “The past couple of years have been very hard for advocates in Tennessee.”

While last year saw a few “wins,” like the anti-stalking bill, there was a “loss” of The Tennessee Economic Council on Women, Insure Tennessee, and protection for refugees.

“Giving up, going away, or not challenging the legislators on bills that are not good for Tennesseans is not the solution,” Suara said. “It is against our ideals. We must continue to engage and to hold our elected officials accountable.”


The Contributor – January’s Nonprofit Spotlight: The Next Door

The Next Door provides transitional housing and recovery programs for women coming out of incarceration, domestic violence, human trafficking, and drug and alcohol abuse. As one of Nashville’s first housing facilities and re-entry programs exclusively for women, The Next Door has helped hundreds of women in Middle Tennessee build lives of flourishing and hope.

Established in 2004 by a small group of women from First Baptist Church in Nashville, The Next Door was founded to address one of the largest unmet needs in Tennessee – when women are released from incarceration, they often lack adequate housing or a support system, two elements that are essential to a successful re-entry into society. With an average of 2,500 women released from prison each year since 2010 (Tennessee Department of Correction), the challenge these women face is a return to old neighborhoods, old habits and for many, old addictions. The Next Door exists to be the “next step” for women as they transition out of experiences of incarceration (as well as addiction, trauma or mental illness) and into lives that are thriving both physically and mentally.

Using an integrated model that serves the whole woman, The Next Door provides a wide range of services including housing, mental health counseling, addiction rehabilitation, medical care and job training to women in crisis.

“The Next Door serves as the hands and feet of Christ,” says Communications Director Alison Cooke. For her and almost all the other staff members at The Next Door, it is their Christian faith that serves as the foundation of their work. “Women are met with so many barriers when trying to battle their addiction. [We] help alleviate some of those barriers and give women hope they have never had before – or haven’t had in a long time.”

In the organization’s mission to assist in every aspect of a woman’s recovery, The Next Door also serves the children of their clients – both born and unborn. From medically monitored detoxification and addiction treatment for women who are pregnant, to tutoring, mentoring and drug abuse prevention services for their children, The Next Door continues to expand its core service areas so they can holistically help women in crisis.

The Next Door is growing in size as well as scope. In 2014, they moved their flagship rehabilitation center to a location off Charlotte Avenue and opened the Freedom Recovery Community, an apartment complex that provides safe, affordable housing and supportive services to women and their children. In their new facilities they now also offer recovery support groups, counseling and workforce development for their clients.

Looking for a way to get involved?

Whether you’d like to help with a special event, create welcome bags for new clients, donate clothes or assist the Food Service Team by serving lunch or dinner to residents, The Next Door has great volunteer opportunities for both individuals and families. Visit their website at thenextdoor.org to discover volunteer and donation opportunities.

If you or a woman you know is struggling with addiction and would like to speak with someone at The Next Door, please call 855-TND-HOPE.





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