Founding Director Charles Stobel, Room in the Inn Nashville
It was winter 1985 in Nashville, Tennessee. From his bedroom rectory window at Holy Name Catholic Church in, Father Charles Strobel saw people sleeping in cars parked in the church parking lot. He knew he was potentially witnessing humans freeze to death, so was immediately compelled to invite them into the church cafeteria to spend the night.
With assistance of other groups, this act of compassion was then repeated nightly through that winter. By the end of the following winter in March 1987, 31 congregations were providing shelter to the homeless. Now there are around 200 congregations assisting with Room in the Inn’s winter shelter program in middle Tennessee, and this hospitality mission has become the model for programs in 36 other cities.
After reading Charles Strobel’s book “Room in the Inn,” Mary Sumner visited Nashville and pursued bringing the program to Fort Worth. Mary, a member of Broadway Baptist, engaged Ray and Corbie Brown, then members of St. Stephen Presbyterian Church, in conversations about Room in the Inn. These discussions expanded to include other leaders in Fort Worth’s faith community, the City, TCU and non-profit agencies providing services to the homeless.
DRC (formerly Day Resource Center) offered to partner with Room in the Inn, to provide essential services such as prescreening and registration of guests, and a convenient location for host congregations to pick up and return guests.
After a year of planning and organization, in December 2007 Room in the Inn was started in Fort Worth by Broadway Baptist and St. Stephen Presbyterian churches. Soon other congregations joined this hospitality mission, hosting during the three coldest winter months (December, January and February), and the two hottest summer months (July and August).
Room in the Inn has operated consistently in Fort Worth since 2007, with the exception of two years absence during the COVID-19 pandemic. When Room in the Inn resumed in July 2022, operating partner services were transferred from DRC to True Worth Place.
Integral to the operation of Room in the Inn in Fort Worth is its partnership with True Worth Place. True Worth provides various services to individuals experiencing homelessness, including day shelter, and is where Room in the Inn guests are prescreened for participation. Room in the Inn guests also register for their day of participation at True Worth Place, where they are picked up and returned by the host congregation.
We gratefully acknowledge the dedicated leadership of Mary Sumner, Ray and Corbie Brown and others who brought this important mission to Fort Worth, as well as critical services provided by our past and present partners, DRC and True Worth Place.