If you wonder how much money the 2023 Thanksgiving Day Boulevard Bolt raised to help local homeless organizations, I have good news for you.
“This year we gave over $230,000 away to 45 non-profit organizations who work directly with our homeless neighbors or who provide services and resources to keep individuals and families from becoming homeless,” said Molly Craig, coordinator of the Bolt event, which celebrated its 30th year last Thanksgiving.
“This year’s grants brought our total allocations to over $4.5 million in 30 years,” she said.
The annual allocations reception, which was held at The Temple on Jan. 25, not only awarded the grants but also honored the late Father Charles Strobel, who was the founder of Room in the Inn and a tireless advocate for the homeless in and around Nashville.
“The Boulevard Bolt has become a tradition for countless families in the greater Nashville area,” said Melanie Barnett Ober with Room in the Inn, which was one of the recipients.
“Through The Bolt’s generosity, Room In The Inn started a laundry program in 2010 and for the first time, individuals experiencing homelessness had a place to have their clothes washed in the downtown area. “Each year, their support continues to positively impact our community,” she said.
“The financial support goes a long way, however the awareness that is raised about the needs of those experiencing homelessness and the services these organizations provide is just as valuable. There are a lot of good people who are running the race, doing the work, and loving their neighbors,” she said.
The 2023 race supported 45 organizations that provide vital services to vulnerable neighbors.
Craig said the 2023 funds will be used by recipient agencies to serve individuals in transitional housing programs, provide basic hygiene services, purchase and distribute emergency backpacks filled with supplies like blankets, clothing, and water and snacks for youth living on the streets, provide community meal programs and more.
Craig said there were 5,942 walker/runner participants in the 2023 event. “It was not a record but up from last year,” she said.
Mike Cooper, chairman of the Bolt steering committee, said “we were pleasantly surprised at the number of people who came to the event as well as the growth in sponsorships.”
The 2023 sponsors included Brown & Brown Insurance, Howell Allen, FINN Partners, Jimmy Kelly’s Steakhouse and Pinnacle Financial Partners.
The 30th annual Bolt’s motto was “Making a Difference in Nashville since 1994. Run. Walk. Give.”
And the perennial goal is to heighten awareness of issues surrounding the homeless as well as generate much needed funding for local agencies that work with the homeless.
The allocations from the 2023 fundraising event ranged from $1,800 to $10,000 for the homeless-centered agencies. Cooper said the agencies seeking grants not only specify the amount they request but also for what the funds would be used.
The Boulevard Bolt, organized by volunteers, is a collaborative effort of Immanuel Baptist Church, St. George’s Episcopal Church and The Temple in Nashville. Cooper noted that the Bolt relies on its volunteers and as a result has virtually no overhead.
In pre-COVID years the event raised between $260,000 and $330,000 each year to support anywhere from 40 to more than 50 local agencies that apply for funds from the allocation committee.
In the two COVID years when the Boulevard Bolt was just virtual (as opposed to in-person), the fundraising total dropped to $103,000 in 2020 and $80,000 in 2021. So, the $179,000 raised in 2022 and the $230,000 for the 2023 event are good news.
The annual five-mile run/walk Boulevard Bolt takes place on Thanksgiving morning along Belle Meade Boulevard in Nashville. The cost to participate in 2023 was $40 (or $45 with a race chip) per person.
Ober said, “In the words of Charlie Strobel, ‘Thank you for Helping the Homeless.’ ”
Boulevard Bolt fundraising history:
For more information, see www.boulevardbolt.org
Mary Hance, who has four decades of journalism experience in the Nashville area, writes a weekly Ms. Cheap column. She also appears on Thursdays on Talk of the Town on NewsChannel5. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Facebook as Facebook.com/mscheap