Jan. 29

Volunteers Give Abused Women the Hope and Love of a Warmly Outfitted Home

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honorees Julie Davis and Cheryl Hays. Read their story and nominate an outstanding volunteer, family or organization as a Point of Light.

renew_angels_2015.jpegRe-New volunteers, from left, Mike Hays, Harrison Davis, Julie Davis, Cheryl Hays, Terri Cahill, Edie Ottestad, Liz Kite, Susan Shephard and Marty Jordan

After interior designer Julie Davis completed a mission trip to Africa five years ago, she knew that she would want to continue helping women and children once back home to Nashville.

Thinking about her own expertise and the fact that many of her clients, because they were redecorating, often found themselves with extra furniture and home furnishings, she had an idea.

“I thought I could operate as a connector between them and those that might need their extra items,” she says.

When a mutual friend introduced Davis to the CEO of the local YWCA, her next step became clear. She learned how the organization was taking in women who had been domestically abused, to help them heal.

As part of that process, the women could apply for subsidized transitional housing – to move from the save haven of the Y to new lives on their own.

re-new_at_the_ywca_vol.jpegRe-New co-founder Julie Davis, left, makes a bunk bed with another volunteer.

“At that point, the Y could only provide an inflatable mattress and a few basics to set them up in their new homes,” says Davis. “So a partnership that would take advantage of my access to extra furniture seemed like the perfect marriage.”

Soon, Davis and a friend, Cheryl Hays, a registered nurse, were operating Re-New, a furnishing service that’s became an official program at the YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

“When these women leave their abusive situations, they don’t take anything with them but their children and the clothes on their back,” says Hays. “We thought they deserved so much more.”

Davis, who still maintains her interior design practice, chooses from an inventory of gently used furniture and all the trimmings – from artwork to lamps, from bedding to dishware – to match the ages and genders of the people who will be living in the space.

Meanwhile, Hays works almost full time on the effort, managing the stock and coordinating donation pickups and the schedules of some 65 volunteers.

Together, they all work to shower more than two dozen women and their children each year with the hope and love of a warmly outfitted home – complete with a welcome mat at the front door, flowers on the table and food in the fridge.

“Most of our volunteers are women because I think there’s a commonality there that has to do with nesting,” says Hays. “We’re honored to be part of their brave journey.”

Davis adds, “Although a lot of people think that the problem of abused women is so big, if you give them the avenue to help they’ll see that they can make a difference one home at a time.”

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