a note from The 2018 Board Chair

Nicole Smith

Dear Refuge Center supporters and friends,

Hope grows. These two small words join together to create a powerful sentiment that has been at the heart of The Refuge Center for Counseling since its inception. In 2018, these words have never been truer. It has been a year defined by both hope and growth.

When I joined the board in 2010, The Refuge Center provided 5551 sessions to just over 880 clients in six office spaces. In 2018, we provided 23,064 sessions to 3079 clients in 22 office spaces, thanks to an expansion this past fall. We are thankful for our physical growth, but also recognize that the need for high-quality, affordable mental health services is quickly outpacing the space we have to provide them. That is why I am so proud of the work our board and staff have done this year to launch “Growing Home” –- a capital campaign that seeks to raise $4 million by 2020 in order to build a 12,000-square-foot, permanent home for The Refuge Center. This new facility will not only allow us to serve up to two times more people in need, but will also be a physical manifestation of the culture of compassionate care that is a hallmark of our work.

I can remember sitting in board meetings more than half a decade ago dreaming about what “home” might look like for The Refuge Center and wondering if it would ever be a reality. To see that vision begin to take shape, to watch others generously invest in it and to feel the blessings and favor of God throughout the process has been nothing short of amazing. I am reminded every time I attend a board meeting and every time I hear the story of a client whose life has been transformed due to counseling that hope grows at The Refuge Center.

I am honored and grateful to serve alongside fellow board members who believe in the power of hope and work daily to ensure it grows throughout the Middle Tennessee community.

There is no doubt that we are bursting at the seams, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned during my tenure on the board it is that hope cannot be contained. No matter how many offices we have or how many clients we serve, hope will continue to spread far beyond the walls of any physical space as long as there are good-hearted people to foster it on its way.

I end my time as board chair with great confidence in the good-hearted people at The Refuge Center who are committed to the mission of empowering, educating and supporting those in need. And I look toward the future with hope—hope for “home,” hope for continued healing for those we serve and hope for a healthier community because of it.


Nicole Smith

Director of Communications, Vanderbilt University, Development and Alumni Relations