Tracy Lawrence

Tracy Lawrence’s work with homeless puts his heart—and turkeys—on the line.

Country’s Tracy Lawrence will once again fry turkeys for the homeless men, women and children served by the Nashville Rescue Mission, Monday, Nov.19 in the mission’s parking lot at 639 Lafayette St. in Nashville. This is the second year for the Tracy Lawrence Mission Possible special Thanksgiving event, held to create awareness of the services provided by the mission as well as the ongoing need for contributions and community support for this organization.

For more on Tracy’s work with the mission—and Tracy’s mouth-watering recipe for fried turkey—check out the 11/5 issue of Country Weekly. You can also log on to nashvillerescuemission.org.

Plus, recently, Tracy put his thoughts about the Nashville Rescue Mission into words for the mission’s newsletter. Here’s what he said …

The Mission In My Words
By Tracy Lawrence

As we pass from one season to the next and the summer heat releases it’s grip on our days giving way to fall’s cooler temperatures, I become reflective if not a bit melancholy, and certainly inspired. The sun takes on a different warmth and hue, the leaves begin the process of changing colors, the season of harvest arrives, and before too long I’ll find myself celebrating Thanksgiving with friends and family.

Most of us have experienced the security of having a place to rest our head each night, a full belly, a little money in our pocket and friends, family, and fellowship to see us through the toughest of moments. Most of us. Not all of us. Have you ever stopped to think what it would be like if tragedy struck and you lost the security that most of us take for granted? It could happen. It could happen to any one of us.

I’ve had the good fortune to enjoy a career in entertainment that I truly treasure. I have a beautiful wife, and we’re raising two beautiful daughters. Life has been good to me, but the positives haven’t arrived on a platter and they haven’t come without hard knocks, lessons learned, and both good and bad choices. I have close friends and business colleagues, and family members who have stood right by me during the rough spots in my life as well as the treasured moments. It’s been my faith, my family, and my friends that have seen me through. I’m thankful and I don’t take any secure moment for granted.

In reality, any of us … from the most conservative churchgoing pillar of the community to the wealthiest of the wealthy … by choice or tragedy, could find themselves in need of help. Bad luck, poor choices, heartbreak and disaster aren’t dictated by race or status, gender or age. We’re all human. We all fall. Some fall harder than others. Some simply stumble. But it could happen to any person.

Each of us enters this world with a clean slate. Each of us sets out on this journey we call life, and in most cases, without the aid of a road map. You can’t “google” or “mapquest” the perfect life path to take. Each of us walks a different path. We take some roads by choice and others by circumstance. Still, we take others by making a poor decision or following the wrong leader. It’s perhaps easier than some may believe to fall on bad luck, but it can happen in the blink of an eye. Some may think they’ve come to the end of their road or the end of their life.

We’ve all been in a bind at one point or another. It might be something as simple as a flat tire or a dead battery. It might be as tragic as losing a loved one or multiple loved ones, losing a job, having an accident, receiving an unwelcomed diagnosis, developing an addiction, or hitting financial dire straits. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Ecclesiastes 4:10 One friend everyone can count on is the Nashville Rescue Mission and it’s many staff members, volunteers and services.

It’s difficult to imagine the series of steps that lead one to a facility such as the Nashville Rescue Mission. Hollywood can’t write these stories. Still, I always wind my way back to this question: How does someone end up in borrowed clothes, with no money and no place to go, with feelings of desperation, no visible way out, no way to take back words that cut like a sword, no way to rewind the clock, and no way to gather wasted time or capture missed moments? Folks, you can’t unring a bell, but with faith you can move beyond it. The folks at the mission listen, they counsel, they educate, and they coach. They encourage and guide their residents toward a life of faith. We all need faith that we can overcome our obstacles. And, faith in God to guide us through it all. We need only to believe. These are the teachings of the Nashville Rescue Mission. … I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you …
Matthew 17:20

It takes a big heart to bypass judgment and move toward search and rescue of those in need. To help guide folks toward personal stabilization. To nurture, coach, and help them clean their slate. To give them a new outlook and a fresh start. To help them recover from whatever punches life throws. That big ole heart is right there at the Nashville Rescue Mission. The mission’s volunteers never stop to think what’s in it for them. And just like my recent hit song says, “You Find Out Who Your Friends Are” just as soon as you cross the threshold at the Nashville Rescue Mission.

The Nashville Rescue Mission—it’s people and the services and the programs provided to our community—has brought about a strong and lasting effect on me. My experience in getting to know the works of the Nashville Rescue Mission made me want to help. It made me want to work to increase public awareness of the mission and to support its efforts and those of its workers and its volunteers. I remain both impressed and inspired by the work of the Nashville Rescue Mission and I appreciate its existence. The mission is there like a friend ready to drop everything and help anyone, any color, any gender, any age any day of the week.

Sitting at home one Sunday evening last fall, I started to wonder how I could help some folks walking through this world alone. I didn’t feel right enjoying the bounty of the holidays without helping others. Folks who were a little, or a lot, down on their luck. I wasn’t certain how I could help. I’m one man and there are many, many people out there who need help. I wanted to help rescue those who live their life on the street, save them from their own self-destruction, or just help someone who has fallen on hard times pull themselves back up. I came to realize that my desire to help was parallel to the design and purpose of The Nashville Rescue Mission.

My job at home during the holidays is to deep-fry all of the turkeys for our gatherings. I decided that I could take something that I enjoy doing and turn it into an awareness campaign for the mission. With little more than three weeks to put the event together, and thanks to divine intervention and the tremendous support of organizations like Crisco; Wal-Mart; Cargill, Inc.; Bass Pro Shops; Trinity Gas Company, Inc.; Joslin And Son Signs; Cajun Injector Marinades; WSIX-The Big 98, WKDF, and WSM radio stations; Cliff Tredway and the staff at the mission; my brother Laney Lawrence; our staff at TLE, Inc.; and my PR firm Holley•Guidry Public Relations, I hosted the First Annual Tracy Lawrence Mission Possible: For The Love turkey fry event.

I originally planned to fry 100 turkeys for the homeless on the Monday of Thanksgiving week and use the event to increase awareness of the mission’s services and programs, and raise funds, clothing and food donations for all of the mission’s facilities and programs. The event was well-covered by the media, and many local individuals and business representatives who heard about the event showed up with an additional 135 turkeys, more than $6,000 in cash donations, and items to fill several large collection boxes with food, clothing, and personal items. The event was a huge success.

On November 19, I’ll host the the 2nd Annual Tracy Lawrence Mission Possible: For The Love turkey fry in the parking lot of the Nashville Rescue Mission. Thanksgiving has always been a special holiday to me and this event really puts it in perspective. I invite the people of this community to stop by, throw up a hand, say hello, cheer us on, and make a donation. As our turkey fry event grows annually, I hope to turn the Monday of Thanksgiving week each year into a huge public awareness campaign specifically for organizations that aid the homeless, but more broadly to support the importance of family, friends and uniting with our fellow man to build a better world.

As you move toward the holidays, please remember the folks out there who could use a pat on the back, a shower, a bed, a little self-esteem, and a fresh beginning. Sometimes building a better world is as simple as providing another person’s next meal or carrying their burden long enough for them to get their bearings and take the first positive step toward recovery. Please remember the works of the Nashville Rescue Mission this holiday season.

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