Thank you for attending our Festival of Hope

From Judy K. Orr, Executive Director:

We are very grateful for the presence of everyone who joined us at our Festival of Hope 2024. We are left with our hearts full of gratitude and love.

We were very happy to share the achievements of some of our graduates in our job training programs and to shine a lot on the families who rely on us to find and keep stable housing. All of this work is in service of helping our neighbors achieve self reliance, and that is what we celebrated.

If you couldn’t join us in person, it’s not too late for you to partner with us in our mission. Please consider making a donation to our Festival of Hope fundraiser here. Your generous support will make a difference to those most in need in Middle Tennessee.

Thank you to all our sponsors for their generous support. Here is a sampling of the Festival:

Festival of Hope 2024 to feature job training programs

From Judy K. Orr, Executive Director:

I am excited to invite you to our annual fundraiser, Festival of Hope, a fun and joyous celebration of the accomplishments of our neighbors who allow us to walk alongside them towards a brighter future. Our Latino/Cuban-inspired breakfast event will take place at the Catholic Pastoral Center Tuesday, April 16, at 7:30 a.m. We will have authentic food, music, and other surprises. Our Sewing Training Academy, one of our workforce development programs, will be our event focus. The job training programs are essential, but lesser known components of our holistic service model.

Who says breakfast can’t be a festive occasion? The Festival of Hope celebrates healing, which we define as gaining self-reliance. Helping to empower our neighbors to take care of themselves and their families through sustainable employment, is our highest goal.

To reserve your seat, please go to the Festival website. There is no charge for attending, but we hope you will be generous with your support. Our goal is to raise $200,000, and all proceeds will provide critical Catholic Charities services for the more than 25,000 Middle Tennessee neighbors whom we serve annually.

Bishop J. Mark Spalding will be in attendance to visit with guests, and Rhori Johnston, WTVF News Channel 5 anchor, will be the master of ceremonies. You will hear the stories of students and staff members from our four job training programs who, thanks to their perseverance and our wraparound-holistic support, today have promising jobs and futures. You couldn’t find a better example of the power of love, hope, and healing.

Our event will include onsite demonstrations by our Sewing Training Academy, product samples, and a special gift made by students of the Academy. Other Catholic Charities program managers will also be on hand to answer your questions.

Thank you to First Horizon for their commitment as Presenting Sponsor. Sponsorships are still available through April 11. For more information, please go to the Festival of Hope website. Or call Brian Thomas, Director, Mission Advancement, at 615-670-9204.

Looking forward to seeing you on April 16!

Sewing Training Academy to Hold A Very Merry SewPOP Holiday Marketplace Dec. 3-4

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville’s Sewing Training Academy (STA) is hosting A Very Merry SewPOP, a holiday marketplace celebrating new and established Nashville artisans and makers.

SewPOP will take place Dec. 3 and 4 at The Clay Lady Campus at 1416 Lebanon Pike, just two miles from downtown Nashville. The event showcases Nashville makers, which include fiber artists, ceramicists, hat makers, sculptors, fine artists, ethnic clothing makers, jewelry makers, designers, boutique fashion shops and more.

The marketplace will be open to the public on Dec. 4, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., for those in search of unique holiday gifts. Admission is free. SewPOP’s marketplace is being held in conjunction with The Clay Lady’s Annual Holiday Sale.

STA will host an opening night party on Dec. 3, 5 – 9 p.m.  Tickets to the party are $25 each and are available at

SewPOP celebrates the finale for students who participated in an intensive, year-long STA program. Rather than being handed a diploma, students sell merchandise they created as part of the “Protype Bootcamp” where they learn how to make, market, and sell an original product.

After touring The Clay Lady Campus and meeting with The Clay Lady Danielle McDaniels, STA Program Director and sewing instructor Trishawna Quincy was inspired to enhance the STA as a space that fosters the growth and connection of Nashville’s sewing community. Danielle and Trishawna are excited to collaborate in creating a new holiday market event at the expansive Clay Lady Campus, and providing an opportunity for consumers to meet undiscovered makers and curated artists.


The Sewing Training Academy started in 2015 as the first initiative of the Workforce Development Program of Catholic Charites, Diocese of Nashville. Housed in the Catholic Charities Family Resource Center at C.E. McGruder near the evolving Buchanan Arts District, the school has quietly been fueling the Nashville maker movement by empowering both women and men with sewing and tailoring skills.

The brainchild of Van Tucker, formerly with the Nashville Fashion Alliance, and Quincy, STA has both recreational classes and a one-year “Sewing Intensive Program” to train those in need of job placement or to start a business.

STA students are taught how to sew for the specialized needs of the sewing industry on industrial machines as well as how to maintain those machines, qualifying them to fill positions in Nashville’s rapidly growing fashion and apparel industry. The mission of Sewing Training Academy is to help people better their lives through sewing. It is a program of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville, a faith-based nonprofit providing services to people of every religious, ethnic, cultural, and racial background.

Catholic Charities Sewing Instructor, Students Make Medical Masks (Theresa Laurence, Tennessee Register)

Original story in The Tennessee Register

The Catholic Charities’ Sewing Training Academy workspace at the McGruder Family Resource Center in North Nashville should be bustling with daily activity right now, filled with a group of students learning about all aspects of sewing and working in the industry.

But group classes have been postponed and Sewing Training Academy coordinator and instructor Trishawna Quincy, along with a handful of student volunteers, are only present on a limited basis.

Instead of teaching her students how to work on an industrial sewing machine, Quincy is now leading the Sewing Training Academy’s efforts to sew medical masks to provide to local hospitals and healthcare facilities.

The shortage of personal protective equipment, which includes masks, gowns and gloves, has emerged as a major issue worldwide, and is something that doctors and nurses absolutely need to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quincy never envisioned she would have a role to play in responding to a medical crisis, but, she said, “it is nice that I have a way to help right now.”

Quincy and some of her current and former Sewing Training Academy students have joined a regional grassroots effort with other local sewers to make as many masks as quickly as possible. “We would love to have everybody here sewing together, but not at this time,” Quincy said.

Instead, she and her student Elliott Martinez spent hours this week cutting the more than 1,000 yards of medical grade material donated by Adelca Systems into the right size for each mask, and creating kits that individual sewers can pick up and complete at home. Quincy was hopeful that by April 3 they would be able to get 3,000 completed masks into the hands of healthcare workers who need them.

At least 100 of the masks will go to the Diocese of Nashville’s assisted living facility Mary, Queen of Angels so they can be prepared to respond if residents become ill with any sort of infectious disease.

“Efforts are happening all across the country, and we are sharing information on patterns and best practices,” Quincy said. “We are all learning as we go, so it’s helpful to learn from cities who are ahead of Nashville in this effort.”

Students and families from Pope John Paul II High School and several parishes around the diocese are also sewing masks to help people through the pandemic.

The Sewing Training Academy is part of Catholic Charities’ Workforce Development Program, which includes job readiness programs for the sewing, hospitality and food service industries. All those programs, which are run out of the McGruder Center, are on hold right now as Catholic Charities responds to the coronavirus pandemic.

‘A really devastating scenario’

While hands-on job training programs are paused at McGruder, requests for food, material and cash assistance are up as many local residents have been laid off from their jobs.

“Food has really emerged as the most pressing need,” said Judy Orr, executive director of Catholic Charities of Tennessee. In recent weeks Catholic Charites social workers at McGruder have reported “a significant uptick in requests for help,” Orr said.

“These are people in their 40s and 50s who have worked hourly jobs their whole life, and have always had somewhere else to go,” if they lost a job or got laid off, Orr said. But now with so many restaurants and businesses closed or operating with only a few employees, “they have nowhere else to go. It’s a really devastating scenario.”

As one of five local social service agencies chosen to disburse funds from the City of Nashville’s COVID-19 relief fund, Catholic Charities has added an intake form to its website to help screen people and get them cash assistance as soon as possible.

Visit for more information. [Or call 615-352-3087.]

The food box distribution plan has been modified at McGruder to minimize people coming into the building, but Second Harvest Food Bank keeps the food pantry there stocked, Orr said.

Second Harvest also helps stock the food boxes for senior citizens that are distributed out of the Catholic Pastoral Center, and the Loaves and Fishes Community Meal program that operates at the Holy Name Parish Center in East Nashville.

To comply with coronavirus precautions, Loaves and Fishes has stopped hosting volunteer groups to prepare meals in the parish center kitchen, stopped serving breakfast, and stopped serving meals inside the building. Instead, Loaves and Fishes Director Wendy Overlock and a handful of volunteers make one meal a day and distribute box lunches to go.

“They served 70 people for lunch like that,” Orr said. “It’s amazing.”