By SABRINA GARRETT
The Wilson Post
The Jewelers of Lebanon Owner Shaun Smith has a message to relay to other area business owners and individuals: Be local and be involved.
Although Smith has always had a passion for supporting community businesses, projects and non-profits, his interest has magnified since being inducted into the 2013 class of Leadership Wilson. “One of our project days was to visit Brooks House and it was just a really moving day for me. We don’t realize what the needs are in the community,” he said of the organization, which offers a “hand up, not a hand out” to women hoping to rebuild their lives.
“At the time we were doing a Facebook contest to get 1,000 likes. Once we reached that I said, ‘For every person over 1,000 that ‘likes’ us by the end of the day I am going to donate $10 to Brooks House,’’” he said. By the end of the day, The Jewelers had 1,075 “likes.”
On Thursday, Smith followed up on his promise by donating a check for $750 to Brooks House Executive Director Liz Reese.
Reese was honored by the donation and stressed that the high amount is not what is important. “It is about the thought behind it,” she said. “It doesn’t take much to make a difference.”
Reese said that she would be thrilled if others in Wilson County would donate a lump sum or volunteer to be a monthly donor.
“It takes $6,000 to operate Brooks House and keep our doors open – and that entire amount comes from donations. We have three churches who give $100 to $500 monthly and a lot of people who pledge 10 percent of their paycheck to Brooks House on a consistent basis,” she said.
Money is used for Brooks House bills, as well as supporting the women when transitioning out of Brooks House into their own apartments or continuing their education. “We want them to learn to love themselves, build self-esteem and work on teaching them how to ask for help when they need it,” Reese said.
Brooks House residents are required by Reese to go to church, and be employed actively in search of a job or be in school. The facility is currently home to six Wilson County women, but with an upcoming addition to their building it could house many more.
“We are getting ready to add-on about 1,500 square feet,” Reese said. The addition will include new bathrooms, a laundry facility and five new bedrooms – bringing the total of bedrooms to 13.
“We currently have eight rooms and some are family rooms for women who have children. We can hold up to 20,” she said of the current facility Brooks House moved into in 2007.
Reese said she is honored to do the work that she does and “wouldn’t give a thing for the journey that God has me on. It is not a job – it is a ministry.”
For more information on Brooks House, go to brookshouse.org.