Amazing Nashville Heroes
These local heroes are working to empower people in our city and throughout the world.
Written By: Erin B. Murray
Photographers: Amy Cherry
Personal stylist; mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee
Personal stylist Caitlin Colling recently founded a monthly empowerment workshop at Mending Hearts, a residential center for women with mental illness and substance abuse issues. Here, Colling advises attendees on both a stylistic and spiritual level, by helping them through the process of reentering the professional work force. Disregarding any preconceptions of the perfect size, style, or silhouette, Colling helps them gain confidence through the transformative power of fashion. Whether she’s assembling outfits to wear on a job interview or conducting “Makeup 101” classes, Colling is helping women foster a renewed sense of self worth. “If they can see a new vision of themselves, it will elevate them beyond their current expectations,” says Colling. She is also a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee.
To learn more about Caitlin Colling, go to collingimage.com.
Mary Carol Friddell
President, Nurse Assistant Training School (NATS), Inc.
Eighteen years ago, after a 32-year-long teaching career in metro Nashville, Mary Carol Friddell decided to invest in the Nurse Assistant Training School, taking out two loans and working two jobs to raise support and credibility for the school. “A lot of people I called on had no idea I had another job,” she explains. “It was tough. If I had not kept my day job, we would not be sitting here because I couldn’t have afforded it.” Today, thanks to Friddell’s perseverance, determination and fiery spirit, NATS is the longest-running Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) school in Tennessee and maintains relationships with Nashville’s top-tier hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home healthcare programs; students average a 90 percent pass rate on state exams and job placement. It’s also the only CAN-school in the state owned by a female and operating without federal funding or grants.
To learn more about Mary Carol Friddell and NATS, go to natscnt.com.
Laurie Vanderpool and David Vanderpool, MD
Founders, Live Beyond… Mobile Medical Disaster Relief
Two days after Hurricane Katrina, David Vanderpool and his son, David Jr., packed up their old, green pick-up truck with a chainsaw and piles of medical supplies and made their way down to help the victims along the Gulf Coast. After many more trips to the region, David and his wife Laurie purchased a van outfitted for basic trauma response. Offers for volunteers and supplies soon started pouring in and the Vanderpools registered as a 501c3, named Mobile Medical Disaster Relief, allowing them to continue their efforts in earnest. As the post-Katrina effort wound down, the couple learned about a ministry in Mozambique that needed a new hospital—David answered the call. In 2010, when Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake, MMDR was on the scene. Since then, Mobile Medical Disaster Relief has grown into Live Beyond, an organization dedicated to “meet the needs of poor and underserved people and minister to the oppressed.” Beyond disaster relief, Live Beyond provides medical clinics, clean water, and micro loans. As the organization and its purpose have grown, so have the offers for volunteers. The Vanderpools took more than 400 people overseas with them last year. “Our impact is two-fold: on the people who go with us, as they’re able to live beyond themselves, their own family, their own neighborhood, their own church, their own comfort zone,” says Laurie. “There’s not a single soul that comes back and doesn’t have their economic system or priorities change,” she says, adding, “But we’re also wanting it to have that same impact in another country—to live beyond poverty, to live beyond hunger, live beyond disease, live beyond bad water, live beyond thirst.”
To learn more about the Vanderpools and Live Beyond, go to mmdr.org.
Executive Director, Blood:Water Mission
Jena Nardella was a passionate student fixated on helping those who needed it most, when a microbiology class covering the effects of HIV/AIDS motivated her to switch gears and focus on political studies. “I realized that the virus can attack [… ] the weakest members of our society: women, the poor, and many people in sub-Saharan Africa,” she says. She decided then and there to focus her life on learning everything she could about the disease in order to fight the epidemic. Later, Nardella had a chance encounter with Nashville-based Christian rock band Jars of Clay at a conference. She heard the band members speak about an interest in starting a nonprofit organization that would help provide clean water to villages in Africa—visits to the continent had taught them about the inseparable link between clean water and non-HIV-infected (clean) blood. Nardella was inspired to write a 25-page proposal that would make their organization a reality. In 2004, six months and many conversations with the band later, she graduated, moved to Nashville, and Blood:Water Mission was born. Today, B:WM has raised $20 million and now has 15 full-time staff members as well as an office in East Africa; their mission is to empower communities to work against the HIV/AIDS and water crises in sub-Saharan Africa and has provided water for more than 700,000 African villagers with its completed “1,000 Wells Project.”
To learn more about Jena Nardella and Blood:Water Mission, go to bloodwatermission.com.
Founder and Executive Director, Amazima Ministries International
Katie Davis left home, family, and what she calls her “normal” life in Brentwood to move to Uganda where she proceeded to adopt several children while volunteering at an orphanage in a vulnerable community halfway around the world. In 2006, she followed a calling and traveled to Uganda for a three-week volunteer trip during her senior year of high school. There, she met a pastor in Jinja who was opening a kindergarten and asked her to return and teach—a path she’d never considered but suddenly felt compelled to do since it would allow her to return to the people who had, she says, “inched their way into my heart.” Davis decided to postpone college and return for a year; in 2008, she made one more trip, settling for good in the Masese community where she founded Amazima Ministries, an organization that connects sponsors from across the world with the village’s orphaned children to provide food, education, and Bible study. Through Amazima, Davis is helping about 600 children annually; for $300 per year, a child receives education, three meals per day, school supplies, and uniforms. Meanwhile, she is mothering and mentoring her own children, whom she is currently fostering until she can officially adopt them when she turns 25.
Just named Glamour Magazines 2012 Readers Choice Woman of the Year!
To learn more about Katie Davis and Amazima Ministries, go to amazima.org.
Patrick Woodyard, Founder & CEO; Nick Meyer, VP Business Development; Zoe Cleary, VP Design and Product Development
Patrick Woodyard, Nick Meyer, and Zoe Cleary are the team behind Nisolo, a social enterprise that brings high quality, handmade Peruvian leather shoes to the American retail market. But these three didn’t set out to start their own shoe company; rather, they’re working to connect a group of highly skilled artisans from a poverty-stricken section of South America to a fashion-savvy, high-demand retail market—and they’re empowering a community in the process. “The key is empowerment: helping people help themselves,” says Woodyard who says Nisolo now employs about 30 shoemakers who have increased their production six times over and are now receiving much higher profit margins. But most importantly, these artisans have gained the dignity of steady employment.
And none of this would be working if it weren’t for the shoes themselves. The cause is all well and good, says Meyer, but “you can’t have a sustainable business without a good product.” With Cleary’s expertise in fashion and production influencing the artisan’s designs, they’ve created a footwear line that hits a perfect balance of classic style and pure comfort, including suede mini-wedge ballet flats, delicate, leather-thong sandals, and ankle-high lace-up chukkas. “It’s about being a global citizen – we want to contribute to a change in our culture that helps everyone understand that we’re not alone,” says Woodyard. (Roughly translated, “nisolo” means “none of us are alone.”)
To learn more about Nisolo, go to nisoloshoes.com.