The 5th Annual Fellowship House fundraising dinner is set for the East-West Bldg. at the James E. Ward Ag. Center, Thursday evening, Oct. 11 at 6:00 P.M. This is the only fundraiser the Fellowship House, a transitional house for men, located at 206 S. College, holds. Funds are needed to continue expansion to keep up with the growing demand in Wilson County/Lebanon. Judge David Earl Durham will be a brief keynote speaker. The dinner this year, is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Larry Locke, former board chairman and longtime supporter of the FH.
The dinner, consisting of fried catfish or chicken and all the trimmings is just $25 per plate and the total amount is tax deductible. “Last year, we had about 150-people attend.” Said FH board chairman, David Denney. “The dinner, our only fundraising event has continued to grow and is a huge success. But as Wilson County and Lebanon continue to explode in population, the demand for our services dictates that we expand. That takes money and this is our only way to raise funds. We are not subsidized or affiliated with an organization.
The FH is home for 10-men, most coming from incarceration or drug court and battling an addiction to drugs, alcohol or both. Once released from jail, most have nowhere to go and few belongings. If the return to a life on the streets, most will quickly end up back in jail.
The FH is more than just a transition house. At least 22 meetings are held each week and there is a daily Bible Study at 7:25 each morning. On Sunday, an extended Bible study called “Chicken Church” starts at 10:30. Everyone is welcome and a chicken dinner is served to all who attend, free of charge. All meetings are open to anyone, male or female, needing a meeting-anyone maintaining a clean, sober life, anyone in early recovery or anyone wanting to start.
“On the surface,” said board chairman, David Denney, “we provide a bed, clean living space, hot showers and the necessities of living. But actually, we provide a lot more. We encourage work on the spiritual side as well as the physical side. So many of the men coming in here have nothing. They are financially, physically and often spiritually bankrupt. Our job is to get them started on the road back-the right road. Without that, most return to the streets and continue to be a financial drain on the community and the county.”
“The coffee pot is always on.” Said Chuck Keel, director of operations. “We are open from 5:30-9:30, 365 days a year. Anyone is welcome to come as long as they behave. The men who live here, have rules they have to follow. They are given a guide-a structure that will, if they adhere to the rules, in many cases, lead them back to a real life, a clean, productive and sober life.”
David Denney, added, “We need money, “But our main focus is and should remain on serving the community by providing a safe, structured environment for men who have nowhere else to go but back to the streets and a life of addiction and usually crime.” Denney continued, “Sometime in the future, if we are to even come close to keeping pace with the demand, we are going to have to expand both our housing and our meeting facilities. That is a substantial, financial endeavor. We have no way of doing that without community support. Our board members are strictly volunteers. Nobody gets paid. All the money goes right into the expansion and upkeep of the FH.”
“The food and fellowship are great.” Promised Denny. “It would be hard to get a better meal and visit with old friends for that price anywhere.” He added. “The catfish/chicken dinner with all the trimmings is Thursday night, Oct. 11 at 6:00 P.M. in the East-West Bldg. at The Wilson County Fairgrounds in Lebanon. Cost is just $25 a plate and it is tax deductible. Come join us for an hour or two of food and fellowship. We will treat you so many ways, you will have like some of them and we won’t bore you with long-winded speeches. For more information, call 615-449-3891.”