2020 - Carolyn Naifeh

2020 Recipient - Carolyn Naifeh (far right, pictured with Our Place Nashville residents)

Our Place Nashville opened its doors five years ago. It has three Friendship Houses that provide integrated, affordable housing for both those with and without disabilities to 50 individuals, 20 of whom have developmental disabilities; their housemates are Vanderbilt graduate students, primarily from the Divinity School, and older adults. A fourth house is scheduled to open in August 2020, and Our Place has five more Friendship Houses in the pipeline, which will bring its total number of residents to 125+. Nashville’s Metro Council approved a second Barnes Housing Trust Fund grant -- earmarked exclusively for land purchase and construction – on March 17 for $2M, making much of this expansion possible. 90% of Friendship House residents with IDD are employed (or were employed prior to COVID-19). Most pay most of their own bills; a few pay all of their own bills. All of them are thriving in – and proud of -- their independent lives. Our Place was founded in May 2015 by Carolyn Naifeh, then regional director of the Pujols Family Foundation, and Jaco Hamman, Professor of Religion, Psychology and Culture at Vanderbilt.

Carolyn serves as the organization’s Executive Director and has been a tremendous partner to DSAMT and force in our DS Community since she moved to Nashville. Please help us thank her for her support and congratulate her on this honor.