An important piece of our mission is to empower and equip women to live healthy, financially-independent, and purpose-filled lives. Residents are offered the opportunity to seek educational advancement and are supported in preparing for job placement. We also walk alongside residents in obtaining driver's licenses, possibly for the first time in their lives, and vehicles to call their own. These are life-altering steps on the road to independence!
We're continuing to celebrate our 5th Anniversary of serving survivors at Good Hope Farms with a greeting from our sister organization, Free For Life International, and CEO Gabrielle Thompson. We are privileged to work in such a wonderful collaborative network of anti-trafficking organizations in Middle TN. We appreciate this strong endorsement so much! Watch her greeting here.
The oppression and trauma of sex trafficking doesn't stop with the survivor - it impacts her family, her children, and the people in her life. We know that reunification and making amends with loved ones is significant in the healing journey, and whenever possible, we love being able to help facilitate those meetings. In the 5 years at Good Hope Farms, we've seen:
Women reunite with siblings after years of disconnect
Women opening conversation with parents
Women reuniting with children
A woman able to attend her child's graduation
A woman moving in with parents after RSM
A woman able to visit a grandparent in a nursing home
A woman attending her first family vacation in years
A woman reuniting with her mother
The video here is from an RSM Resident's Graduation. The graduate had a broken relationship with her siblings, but while she participated in the program, she was able to reconnect and begin rebuilding those ties. Her sister, Lucy, asked to speak at the graduation, and we're so honored she gave us permission to share her heartfelt words. Please excuse the poor video quality, but we couldn't pass up sharing such a beautiful example of the Lord's heart for family! Click here to watch.
Finally, THANK YOU to our generous volunteers and supporters who helped make this Christmas season special for the residents at Good Hope Farms. 2020 has been an incredibly hard year - joy and fun were much needed! It's always a blessing to celebrate this special time of year with the residents, knowing that they are safe and surrounded with loving community. We pray that they are able to experience the Father's love during this holiday season and the years to come!
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Celebrating 5 Years of Impact
We’re taking time this December to reflect back, not just on this very difficult 2020, but on 5 Years of Impact. We’re celebrating our 5th Anniversary of serving survivors at Good Hope Farms! We hope you’ll enjoy the stories we’ve curated, the statistics we’ve collected, the exciting plans we’ll announce, and the celebratory greetings brought by others. We hope your hearts will be moved and your souls stirred to see or remember all that God has done for us and through us. Rest Stop Ministries has always been His, since He’s the one who called us into existence!
Derri Smith, Founder of End Slavery TN, was the local expert whose voice & challenge God used in 2011 to prod us into ACTION about our burden for the issue of Modern Day Slavery or Human Trafficking. It was at her urging that our Founder, Rondy Smith, was challenged to mobilize a critical mass of supporters within her congregation, Hermitage Church of the Nazarene, to develop Tennessee’s first long-term residential restoration program. Four years later, in November 2015, that goal was realized when we opened our doors at Good Hope Farms! Click Here to watch her celebratory greeting.
From Day 1, we knew the voice of Survivor Leaders would be important in the development and operation of our specialized program for sex trafficking survivors. We were so blessed to work with some amazing Survivor Leaders from all over the country who consulted with us every step of the way. Then, by Divine Appointment, God chose a very special Survivor Leader to join our inaugural Staff Team. When she needed to move forward with her education, career and life after a year of dedicated service, we knew we needed to begin praying for the next Survivor Leader God would send our way. Some things take time! We waited before the Lord… like the Advent waiting re-teaches us each Christmas season! Finally, the answer came!! Let’s hear Cynthia and Rondy tell the story… Click Here to watch.
Follow along as we continue to share stories of hope + impact. We're honored to celebrate this special season with you!
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Rest Stop Ministries welcomed the first resident survivors at Good Hope Farms 5 years ago, and even in the midst of a global pandemic, we are focusing on celebration! Today, on Giving Tuesday, Team Rest Stop is celebrating all that God has done. He has provided in ways we could have never expected, allowing us to keep our doors open and continue serving survivors of sex trafficking. We are celebrating resident survivors' accomplishments and milestones, freedom and Restored Hope.
When we posture ourselves with remembrance and gratitude, we can easily trust that God will continue this work of restoration, doing abundantly more in 2021!
In honor of our 5th Anniversary, we ask that you prayerfully give a one-time or recurring gift of $5, $50, $500, or $5000 to sustain the restorative residential program at Rest Stop Ministries. Will you join us?
Click the "Donate Now" button at the top of the page to complete your #GivingTuesday gift.
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Run, Walk, or Ride for Rest Stop
In honor of Rest Stop Ministries' 5th Anniversary of serving survivors at Good Hope Farms, our long-time friends Pete + Ginnie Benson invite you to Run, Walk or Ride for Rest Stop!
This in-person OR virtual event is perfect for athletes, individuals, groups, and families - enjoy the beautiful autumn weather while supporting survivors.
How it works:
Decide if you're wanting to run, walk, or ride 1 mile, 5k, 10, or a half-marathon.
Obtain sponsors who will pledge a dollar amount for each kilometer you run, walk, or ride. $10 for every kilometer of a 5k = $50 donated to Rest Stop Ministries, $50 for every kilometer of a 10k = $500, etc!
Ask sponsors to make their donation here on our website.
Join us the morning of November 14 to Run, Walk, or Ride for Rest Stop!
Check out all of the details and register (for free!) at our Eventbrite page.
We'll see you then!
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Hope Sees 2020 - Thank You!
We are filled with gratitude as we think about our 8th Annual Gala : Hope Sees 2020! In the year of COVID-19 and pivoting to our first-ever Virtual Gala, we knew that everything would look different, but we kept our overall fundraising goal set at $100,000. Rather than allowing fear to stop us, we watched God continue to pave the way - just like He always has!
You tuned in, purchased items in our Virtual Silent Auction, became Advanced Donation Sponsors, and gave generously. Now, we are excited to announce the final results! Proverbs 29:18 in The Message says: "If people can't see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what He reveals, they are most blessed." We want you to SEE what God is doing and Be Blessed!
Together, YOU + God raised: $158,742.89 - That's 1.5 times our goal!!!
"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21
We are so humbled! We've always known that Rest Stop Ministries' supporters are the best, but you continue to amaze us. Your generosity allows us to keep our doors open, providing much-needed care to these precious women. It also allows us to move forward with strategic momentum to build our capacity to serve this critical cause!
Thank you for partnering with us to restore survivors and stop the horrible oppression of human trafficking.
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Hope Sees 2020
Join us September 12th for our Livestreamed Gala : Hope Sees 2020, an inspiring evening to celebrate 5 years of serving survivors at Good Hope Farms with moving musical performances and creatively curated stories of hope.
We will be streaming LIVE on Facebook and YouTube - No access code or tickets required!
Our Silent Auction is open NOW! Bidding will end at 9:00 CST September 12. To view all of the items and make your bid, click here!
The RSM Re-Store has gone Virtual! Click here to see the beautifully handcrafted goods available for purchase.
There's still time to become an Advanced Donation Sponsor! With a minimum donation of $100, Sponsors help cover production costs of Hope Sees 2020 as well as help us reach our overall fundraising goal of $100,000!
Click here to become an Advanced Donation Sponsor.
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Silent Auction Sneak Peek : Hope Sees 2020
Atlanta Braves fan? Shortstop Dansby Swanson has had a GREAT start to the season! Dansby has been a friend to RSM since his Vandy days, donating autographed cleats to our Gala Silent Auction for several years.
Dansby wore these red, white, and blue cleats on July 4, 2019 in a 12-6 win over the Phillies ignited by Swanson's 2 Home Run + 5 RBI night! Now they're autographed and will be featured in this year's Virtual Silent Auction. Just like his season, you won't want to miss it!
The Virtual Silent Auction will be open for bidding September 1, but click here to take a look around and create your profile. Be sure to check back as we continue to add more items!
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Re-Visioned Gala : Hope Sees 2020
Our Re-Visioned 2020 Gala event, streaming live from the stage of Springhouse Worship + Arts Center in Smyrna, TN!
Join us September 12th at 7:00pm for an inspiring evening to celebrate 5 years of serving survivors at Good Hope Farms with moving musical performances and creatively curated stories of hope.
Hosted by Devon O'Day, career broadcaster, author, and event speaker. Devon is known for her years in Nashville, having her songs recorded by artists including Ray Stevens, Lee Ann Womack, and a number one song by George Strait, "The Big One," co-written with Gerry House. Devon is currently the host of the podcasts Main Street Today and Devon O'Day's Nashville.
Dove Award winner and Grammy Award nominee, Nicole C. Mullen, will be joining us as our special guest entertainer, performing the oratorio "The God Who Sees," co-written and produced by Kathie Lee Gifford, as well as her smash hit "Redeemer"! Nicole will also share from her heart and newly-released book, "My Redeemer Lives: It's Personal - A Story of Hope for Our Time."
Our Silent Auction will be virtual this year! Watch our social media and newsletters for more information. We will be featuring unique pieces you won't want to miss!
Become an Advanced Donation Sponsor! A tax-deductible minimum donation of $100 will help us cover production costs to make this an unforgettable evening. Plus, since our annual Gala serves as our biggest fundraiser, ensuring the continued support and restoration of female survivors of sex trafficking, you will also be helping us reach our overall fundraising goal of $100,000! To show our gratitude, Sponsors will receive an autographed copy of Nicole C. Mullen's newly released book. Become an Advanced Donation Sponsor NOW by donating here.
At the beginning of May, we participated in The Big Payback, a 24-hour online giving campaign for nonprofit organizations in Middle Tennessee. In the weeks since, we have been in awe at how incredible YOU are! You answered our phone calls, read our emails, participated in social media competitions, and you helped make this our most successful year! Read on for the full report:
Total Raised in donations + cash prizes: $19,930! This is a RECORD-BREAKING total for Rest Stop Ministries in the 6 years we've participated!
$15,230 raised by 299 Unique Donors
$4,700 of Prize Money earned in these categories:
$2,000 - Regional Grand Prize for Most Unique Donors in the Greater Nashville Region
$1,650 - Most Unique Donors for Medium-Size Organizations Providing Housing
$750 - Tie for Most Unique Donors for Medium-Size Organization between 10:01pm - 2:00am
$300 - 2nd Place for Most Unique Donors in Wilson County
Statistics we LOVE:
Among the 988 Middle Tennessee organizations of all sizes, we were 10th OVERALL for Most Unique Donors!
137 first-time givers to Rest Stop Ministries - Together, you raised $5,610.15!
A message from our Founder + CEO:
My heart is tenderly warmed by messages I have received from some of you saying that you are including Rest Stop Ministries in the favorite charities you are BLESSING by using your stimulus check to Pay It Forward! What a bunch of compassionate, loving, kind, caring, selfless, and servant-hearted stewards we have as supporters!! You keep AMAZING me! Thank you from the core of my being; seriously, you take my breath away.
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A Letter From Our Founder
Dear Supporters of Rest Stop Ministries,
Today, I marveled with our resident who graduates our program January 12, 2020. Through tears she explained how God is giving her important glimpses of recollection of the very broken child she was when she walked in our doors 16 months ago. Only 21 years old, she had just been released from jail in a strange city because her trafficker sold her across state lines then abandoned her. We had only talked with her by phone and she agreed to come to a partner rehab facility here in TN for 30 days before coming to live in the Rest Stop Community. At rehab, they did a group activity requiring each person to look in a mirror and give positive affirmations to the reflection staring back at them. She remembered how she COULD NOT DO IT. Then, she was so excited to tell me that same mirror activity had been utilized in a group just this week at Rest Stop. THIS TIME she grabbed the mirror shouting many affirmations while gazing at the beautiful, healthy young woman staring back! Then, she proudly reported that EVERY SINGLE DAY now she looks in the mirror and tells herself "You've got this kid! Look how far you've come!! Don't stop now! There are no limits to your freedom!!!"
THIS is what YOU make possible!! Horrifically abused children getting a new lease on life; a fresh start to reimagine the possibilities. A God-ordained second chance. What work could be any more important?
I want to share some very significant news with you that impacts the future trajectory of RSM.
September 2019 was the best financial month in the history of RSM. Our annual fundraising gala this year felt a little bit like a "coming of age" celebration! We sense a keen awareness of the blessing of momentum and firmly believe we are to capitalize on this season by expanding our vision. Some of you have been with us from the very beginning, and you should feel a real sense of accomplishment for helping us get to these special days!! Others of you are newer supporters and should feel like you've joined us during very exciting days!!
As if to punctuate this strong affirmation form you, our private donors who have been our only means of support thus far, we got the news on the last day of September that we have been awarded our very first grant from the federal government. Anti-trafficking is high on the nation's agenda and funds have been earmarked for those on the frontlines of this battle to stop the horrific crime and restore the victim survivors. There is also a recognition by both the federal and state government that partnerships with faith-based organizations are key! This grant is a significant 3-year award (2020-2022) and was highly competitive; we were one of only 33 organizations in the nation and the only one in the state of TN to have been awarded in this particular area of specialized services to human trafficking victims. This is important professional acknowledgement from the field that Rest Stop is a model worthy of the federal government's support.
These two facts serve as the springboard we've needed to launch important strategic growth. The need for subsidized transitional housing for our graduates is huge and the priority goal for 2020. Safe, affordable housing in the Nashville area is a challenging hurdle for women just starting out again toward leading lives of financial independence. We MUST take this next step to insure that the cycles of vulnerability do not repeat!!
Will you help us leverage this momentum?! Your continued support is needed now more than ever! The government funding is reimbursed to us at a shared percentage of 75/25, meaning we still must raise the same amount annually that we have been raising PLUS 25% of the grant award amount. You know the old saying "it takes money to raise money!" TRUE. Also true is the dynamic that people want to give to SUCCESSFUL organizations. Please consider honoring our recent successes by continuing to partner with our vital mission and vision!!
One more critical factor as you consider making a year-end gift to Rest Stop Ministries: It is crucial that we have a strong finish in 2019. Here's why: we have the opportunity to re-finance our mortgage in March of 2020 at the same INCREDIBLE rate offered by Pinnacle Financial Partners 5 years ago when we purchased Good Hope Farm. Through a state government tax incentive program, Pinnacle was able to offer us prime minus 4%, which meant 0% interest rate for the first 2.5 years of the loan and miniscule interest since then!! We are thrilled to learn that they will continue this same deal with us for the next 10 years. The terms are that we pay down the debt by $100,000 in March; we can do this because YOUR FAITHFUL GIVING has enabled us to save this amount in escrow since taking our this mortgage loan!!
After a moment to bask in that victory, here's the ASK: Please help us continue this level of wise financial stewardship while advancing our mission by helping us raise the $100,000 we still need in 2019. It is a proven statistic in the nonprofit sector that about one fourth of the annual budget come in during the month of December. This has been our experience every year and is true again this year. We have raised approximately 75% of our $406,580 annual budget through November. Will you help us with the final 25% by making a tax-deductible year-end gift? The women we serve are worthy of your support!
I am eternally grateful for the humbling leadership experience of utter dependence on God and the people he moves to give. Without moving the hearts of people, the resources don't get shared. By sharing in our journey, the abundance of reward is yours too... the deep satisfaction of knowing LIVES WERE TRANSFORMED by your gift.
As we move into these great days of momentum building at Rest Stop, I keep hearing an encouraging promise from God regarding our ministry: "I myself will be a wall of fire around it...and I will be its glory within" - Zechariah 2:5. I sense God's wall of protection around us, and that He is pleased with what is going on within our walls. I want to continue in faithfulness with the work He has given us to do!