Families of MNPS students in the Hillwood Cluster who need food, clothing, diapers, school supplies and other items have a new place to get them: the Hillwood High School Community Hall.
The new room, located at the back of the school on Hickory Valley Road, is stocked with canned goods, pancake mixes, pasta and other dry foods; shirts; Pants; shoes; socks; toiletries and other supplies to help a family get through a tough day or week.
The establishment will be open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from the start of the school day until 2:30 p.m.
It is a project of Community Achieves, the MNPS initiative that brings together community partners in more than 30 schools to provide comprehensive services to students and families.
“Our school for a year was a city food distribution site, and as things changed in our society, we thought about ways to deliver resources in a more sustainable way during the school year and as the pandemic came and went, ”said Jeremy Quinonez, manager of Community Achieves site in Hillwood.
“And that’s how it became the idea, to have a space in high school with hours of operation where families knew they could be there and always have someone to be served. And so this is just the start. We have another room that we are developing for mental health.
In addition to space tours led by Hillwood Student Ambassadors, the community hall launch event on Thursday featured Michael Oher, a former NFL offensive tackle who played for the Baltimore Ravens, Titans of the Tennessee and the Carolina Panthers and now lives in Nashville. Oher, the subject of Michael Lewis’ book (and film) The Blind Side, grew up in poverty in Memphis and said he regularly steals food to survive.
Oher said the community hall will be a vital resource for many students and families.
“When I came and saw this, I immediately thought I was the star kid for it,” he said.
Resource rooms in schools
Most schools in Community Achieves have community resource rooms, but they usually don’t have set hours, said Alison McArthur, district director of Community Achieves. Some of the spaces are also used for partner programs and classes for families, she said.
Quinonez said the new Hillwood room embodies MNPS’s vision of ensuring every student is known and on the path to success.
“When the needs of every student are met, we will see successful young adults with strong futures here in Nashville,” said Quinonez. “The Hillwood Cluster Community Hall is a welcoming place for all families and students in the West Nashville area. It’s not a place that just gives out essentials, but it’s a welcoming space that our families and students feel comfortable stepping into.