As a Nashville facility that provides rehabilitation services to women impacted by addiction, mental illness, trauma or incarceration, the non-profit known as The Next Door regularly relies on volunteers to help with needs such as stocking the supply closet, serving a meal or building relationships with the female residents.
Leisha Nischan began to experience all this when she started volunteering five years ago. A member at Christ Presbyterian Church, Leisha was part of a Missional Community comprised of individuals from several area churches who regularly engaged with The Next Door and offered support to employees and residents. But when a need arose to volunteer at the front reception desk, Leisha soon discovered the role included more than just answering phones and emails.
She started coming face to face with women as they took their first step through the front door seeking help, answers, healing and restoration. She saw the pain and desperation in their eyes. She witnessed how the facility functioned as a lifesaver to so many who felt they had nowhere else to go.
Leisha began to gain a deeper understanding of the suffering of others and the spiritual calling to meet them in their pain and serve as the hands and feet of Christ.
Many times, a woman would walk through the door with just one little bag, Leisha recalled. Maybe she was leaving a life of abuse, trauma or fear. Or perhaps she was weary from a long, ongoing battle with drug or alcohol addiction. She could have just been released from jail or was suffering from mental illness. I saw it all. No matter the scenario, these women were leaving their old life and attempting to step into something hopeful. They were done with the past. Their entrance through our doors represented the first day of the rest of their lives.
Christ Presbyterian Church shares a rich history of partnering with The Next Door. Church members have served on the board of directors, volunteered to lead bible studies and served in various capacities as volunteers. Under the leadership of a team recruited by Leisha, a rebooted Missional Community called Hearts for the Next Door kicked off in May. Its purpose is to partner with the staff of The Next Door in the mission of equipping women to move from the hopelessness of addiction, mental illness or trauma to the wholeness and hope of Christ-centered lives.
Upcoming opportunities for the Missional Community will include movie nights, game nights and holiday gatherings with the residents of The Next Door. An ongoing need also exists for donations toward the facility’s supply and clothing closet.
Leisha and her leadership team prayerfully desire to grow the new Missional Community, stating that, a tremendous opportunity exists to encourage women at The Next Door. Often, when they learn we are from a church, they ask for prayer. Many are longing for that connection. They feel like they can open up to us and often do.
Leisha said she and other Missional Community members receive ongoing encouragement from engaging with the women. The connections formed build empathy, understanding and friendship. While some of the women come from poverty or abusive relationships, others gradually slid into addiction based on tough circumstances, Leisha said. Some turned to drugs to cope with mental illness while others struggled in the aftermath of an injury where strong prescription drugs became addictive.
“Pain crosses all demographics,” Leisha said. “We see women from age 18 to those in their 60s. We see the affluent, the poor and the homeless. Brokenness can find us at any age or phase. That’s why we need each other.”
The Next Door is unique as it offers myriad services for women in need, including a 30-day residential treatment program, an outpatient program and an affordable apartment rental complex called Freedom Recovery Community for women who’ve completed recovery. The large facility includes a commercial kitchen, medical clinic, computer lab for job searching, large dining room and event space, conference room, a chapel and meeting rooms.
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