NASHVILLE, TENN. – Dec. 21, 2020 – Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville, has filled the first two positions for its new Tennessee Serves Neighbors program that will expand Catholic Charities services to five additional Middle Tennessee counties over the next 12 months.
The new hires include:
- Loleetha Gilbert as County Program Expansion Director
- Rebecca Nichols as Volunteer/Student Intern Manager
Tennessee Serves Neighbors was created with a $7.3 million grant from the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) as part of its nationally recognized Two-Generation (2Gen) approach to helping families. Each 2Gen grant is funded by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) federal program.
Catholic Charities Executive Director Judy K. Orr said Tennessee Serves Neighbors is the biggest one-year expansion in the organization’s history. “Our first three hires were strategic and significant because the success of Tennessee Serves Neighbors depends on creating strong teams and community involvement in each new county,” said Orr. “I’m thrilled that professionals as accomplished as Loleetha, David, and Rebecca wanted to join our team and lead this bold new concept.”
“I’m honored to join the network of services under Catholic Charities and lead such an important project,” said Gilbert. “Each family resource center will operate independently based on what its county needs while also sharing best practices among county teams, so we collectively help more of our neighbors most in need.”
Gilbert has more than 11 years’ experience working for the TDHS. Most recently she oversaw the federally funded Childcare Certification Program for Middle Tennessee. She also held additional positions writing plans and managing state workforce programs at the Tennessee Department of Workforce and Labor Development. Gilbert holds a Bachelor of Science and graduated Cum Laude from Tennessee State University.
Nichols’ expertise in managing and training volunteers fulfills a key promise to tap the faith communities, especially the Catholic Church network in each of the target counties. This was one the primary reasons Catholic Charities was selected as a top 2Gen recipient. Nichols will manage the acquisition of student interns from programs such as the University of Tennessee School of Social Work.
“Tennessee Serves Neighbors can be model for training the next generation of social workers and engaging volunteers to help their neighbors in need,” said Nichols.
Nichols joins Catholic Charities after 20 years at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. As Senior House Manager, she was responsible for recruiting, hiring, and training all staff as well as overseeing capital projects. Nichols received a Bachelor of Arts from Fairmount State University and Master of Fine Arts from Florida State University.
The primary goal of Tennessee Serves Neighbors is to create family resource centers in Montgomery, Maury, Marshall, Bedford, and Coffee counties in its first year then expand to Grundy, Warren, White, Dekalb, and Putnam counties in its second year. A family resource center is a central location where residents can access a wide variety of services tailored to the inpidual needs of the community, including help in an immediate crisis as well as ongoing services that reduce the overall reliance on government services.
About Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville
Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville, was founded in 1962 as the social service arm of the Diocese of Nashville. The organization serves people of every religious, ethnic, cultural, and racial background in 38 Middle Tennessee counties that comprise the Diocese of Nashville. Assisting more than 12,000 people per year, Catholic Charities provides a range of services that help clients through crises and toward self-sufficiency. Services include emergency financial assistance, counseling, job training, housing stability, hunger relief, and more.