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'Come-and-Go Open House' comes at vital time for fundraising


Posted: Feb. 1, 2016


MURFREESBORO – The staff and leadership of Journeys in Community Living are looking forward to making the organization’s case for community support at a "Come-and-Go Open House" event scheduled for March 8.


Journeys is a more than 40-year-old nonprofit organization that serves people with disabilities in Rutherford and Cannon counties. Its programs help people with disabilities seek and maintain employment, receive medical treatment, obtain transportation and participate in volunteer work and recreational activities.


The open house—which is being organized with participants from the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 Leadership Rutherford class—is an opportunity for leaders from the organization to explain the intricacies of its programs to new potential supporters while at the same time thanking its long-time supporters for their help over the years.


Volunteers from Leadership Rutherford are not involved in any direct fundraising, and instead are helping with the planning and execution of the open house, which will be held between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the facility's main office at 1130 Haley Road.


“We have really enjoyed helping expand community awareness of the great services this organization provides,” said Glenn Robb, one of the volunteers. “Rutherford County is privileged to have such dedicated assistance to help all citizens enjoy fulfilling and productive lives.”


The open house comes at a time that Journeys is seeking sponsors for its 2016 events.


Journey’s first event of the season, its Annual Celebration and Silent Auction, is planned for April 28 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Murfreesboro. Two other events, a summer concert and fall golf tournament, are also currently being planned.


"Fundraising is vital to every organization," said Journeys Development Coordinator Mark Bell. "We can't support people with disabilities without having financial assistance from great people and companies. We can't thank the Leadership Rutherford class enough for all they've done to help plan this event, which we know will make our other events stronger."


Journeys' EVENTS PAGE has been updated with all of the events planned for this year, and potential sponsors can find all the information they'll need to make a decision about donating to the organization, as well as a way to actually donate. CLICK HERE TO BE TAKEN DIRECTLY TO THE DONOR TOOLKIT.


To learn more about any of Journeys 2016 events, visit's EVENTS PAGE.


The open house will also feature the first-ever showings of several professionally filmed and edited videos that explain how the program operates. One of the videos will feature a “day-in-the-life” of a person supported by Journeys. More than 2,500 invitations are being sent out ahead of the event, but anyone may attend.


Should you have any questions, Bell can be contacted by calling 615-295-3046.

Careers in the New Year event to give local employers access to untapped talent


Posted: Jan. 6, 2016


MURFREESBORO – Local business leaders who are interested in learning about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities are invited to attend an event at the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce in late January.


Journeys in Community Living (JICL), a 40-year-old Murfreesboro-based nonprofit organization serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, will host  its 'Careers in the New Year' event at the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Jan. 22.


The event is in response to huge changes promulgated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which has stated that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who wish to work will as early as 2017 be expected to enter the competitive workforce alongside non-disabled workers.


Journeys currently serves 120 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, assisting them with everyday living needs, their healthcare and supporting them as they seek and obtain employment, according to Journeys Development Coordinator Mark Bell.


Until very recently, what was considered 'typical employment' for people with intellectual disabilities was going to work in 'workshops' ran by organizations that also service them in other areas of life, Bell said. In these segregated work environments, individuals completed piece work and their wages were based on how much work they were able to complete.


Under the new rules set by CMS, however, organizations will no longer be allowed to operate segregated workshops.


“What this means for Journeys is that we will be closing our Production Center and shifting our focus in the vocational services area to solely assisting individuals with obtaining competitive employment,” Bell said. “This is not new for us. We have assisted several of the individuals we serve with obtaining competitive employment over the years. We'll just be doing it on a larger scale now.”


Not only does Journeys support the changes recommended by CMS, Bell said, the organization understands that obtaining competitive employment is the next “logical” step towards total integration for people with intellectual disabilities.


“For many years now, the people we serve have owned their own homes, which we assist them in managing,” Bell said. “This is just a logical step in the overall process of assisting them as they become more independent and take charge of their own lives.”


Journeys now hopes to earn the support of local employers on a larger scale. To do so, it has planned the 'Careers in the New Year' event, at which the benefits of hiring people with disabilities will be highlighted. The event will be held on the third floor of the chamber building.


Lynnette Henderson, a representative of Tennessee Works, will be on hand to talk about the financial incentives associated with hiring people with disabilities, as well as the reductions in cost associated with lower turnover rates and retraining costs in the population, Bell explained. She will also highlight how employing people with disabilities will lead to increases in customer base, lower accident rates and an improvement in morale for local businesses.


Lauren Meeker, the vocational services director at Journeys, will also make a brief presentation about the programs at JICL and how the organization can assist businesses with their hiring needs.


While there will be no hiring commitment required to attend the free event, Journeys will have on hand information about each of the individuals the organization is currently supporting though the job-seeking process. The goal of the event is to educate employers about the great potential of this huge untapped pool of qualified candidates.


“We want this to be an event where there are no questions left unanswered about what it would be like to have these employees at your business,” Bell said. “We know that if people would give these folks the opportunity, they will shine.”


Those employers and hiring managers who are interested in attending the event only need to show up on the morning of the event, Bell said, where they will also be greeted with catering by Chick-fil-A Murfreesboro.


For more information about this event, employers are urged to contact Meeker at Journeys by calling 615-890-4389 or by emailing


More information on Journeys can be found online at or by calling Mark Bell at 615-295-3046. Tour groups are welcome by appointment only.

Heart Tree Project returns to make Christmas special for those with intellectual disabilities

POSTED: Nov. 6, 2015


It’s once again time to make Christmas special for people with intellectual disabilities in Rutherford & Cannon County.


The Heart Tree Project will return to Journeys in Community Living’s main facility on Haley Road on Wednesday, Nov. 18 and will remain there through Dec. 18. Journeys in Community Living is a local nonprofit that has served people with intellectual disabilities in this area since 1975. The agency supports the individuals as they come to realize their own personal visions of how and where they choose to live, work and socialize.


The Heart Tree works like this: Any community member can call or visit Journeys’ main facility between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday to get the information needed to fulfill the Christmas wishes of one or more of the agency’s Heart Tree recipients. The agency’s phone number is 615-890-4389. The physical address is 1130 Haley Rd., Murfreesboro, TN 37129 (the facility is down the street from the county convenience center just off Highway 231 South and Middle Tennessee Boulevard).


People served by Journeys are selected to be beneficiaries of the Heart Tree based on a set of criteria set by the agency. Situations taken into account include whether an individual has any living family in the area and whether family can afford a gift for their loved one.


Donors who visit in person will be able to pick out one or more ornaments with a requested item written on them. Those who call will receive information on one or more items (as requested) that are associated with ornaments hanging on the Heart Tree.


The majority of items on the Heart Tree are simple things like clothing, including socks, shirts and pants, said Journeys Development Coordinator Mark Bell. Each individual selected to submit needed items to the wish list may also submit one item that may be a bit more costly (but still within most household budgets). Examples from the past include movies on DVD, inexpensive watches and earrings.


“Our wonderful Rutherford & Cannon county community members have made this effort successful every year for more than a decade,” Bell said. “It has shown everyone it touches that the giving spirit is still alive and well in our area.”


Donors must return items to Journeys no later than Dec. 18 to ensure the gifts reach their destination by Christmas morning, he added. Each gift is going to a household that might not otherwise have any gifts under the Christmas tree come the morning of Dec. 25 without the action of the donor.


“We do ask that our donors wrap each item before returning them if possible, and that the paper ornament they picked up be taped to the exterior of each item so we can properly keep track of everything,” Bell said. “If wrapping gifts isn’t your specialty, then we can wrap them here at the center, but we still ask that the ornament be returned so we can keep up with what is going where.”


Wrapped items that are returned without an ornament will unfortunately result in the “ruining of a perfectly good wrapping job,” Bell joked.


While individual donors are always appreciated and actually account for the most Heart Tree donations each year, Journeys is also hoping to partner with area businesses this year for the Heart Tree. For example, over the past several years Publix Store No. 1234 on New Salem Highway in Murfreesboro has collected about a dozen items for Journeys’ Heart Tree.


“Publix has always done an awesome job with the Heart Tree, and we’re hoping other area businesses will join us in making the Heart Tree even more successful this year,” Bell said.  “Any business that would like to partner with us this year can call my personal cellphone at 615-295-3046 anytime.”


Last year for the second time since 2013 Journeys ended up with a totally ‘ornament-less’ Heart Tree in the agency’s lobby, Bell added. “That’s actually a good thing,” he added, “since that means every person’s Heart Tree request was fulfilled. Even better, the agency actually ended up adding a second round of ornaments to the Heart Tree in 2014 thanks to the success of the project. We try to address the greatest needs first, so we held off on adding a few of the requested items until we ran out early last year.”


The Heart Tree project began several years ago when Journeys’ Human Resources Director Rachel Burch saw the need for such a project and came up with an idea to address that need. The project continues to grow and Burch continues to be involved in organizing and running the project.


George Cunningham, the agency’s director, said Burch’s Heart Tree has become a tradition at Journeys.


“Even though our program is focused on making the individuals we serve more independent 364 days out of the year, we recognize the importance of the Heart Tree Project and what it represents at this very special time of the year,” Cunningham said.


Journeys currently serves approximately 120 people through its programs, which includes a Residential Program, Vocational Rehabilitation Program, Multi-County Transportation Program, HealthCare Oversight Program and Community Day Program.


The United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties helps fund the agency’s HealthCare Oversight Program, which aids individuals with intellectual disabilities in keeping track of and getting treatment for their often-complicated medical conditions. The organization’s programs are primarily funded by the state of Tennessee, with Rutherford County Government and the City of Murfreesboro also providing funding. The organization also accepts private donations.


Those who wish to request information from an ornament by phone or who would like more information on Journeys’ programs can call the nonprofit between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 615-890-4389, ext. 45. More information on Journeys can also be found online at

Several Journeys staff members promoted as part of Transition and Quality Improvement plans

POSTED: 11/6/2015


Several staff members at Journeys deserve congratulations for having recently been promoted under changes outlined in the agency’s Quality Improvement and Transition plans.


The promotions were announced shortly after George Cunningham was named the agency’s next director.


Frances Cook will take George’s old post as Assistant Director, with many of her day-to-day duties remaining the same. However, as assistant director Frances will be in charge of the organization anytime George is out of the office.


Felicia Oliver has been named Residential Director, putting her in charge of all residential supervisors and the Residential Program, Residential Community Day Program and all personal assistants.


Kyle Hendrickson has been named the Program Services Director and will be over all matters related to ISPs, therapy plans, circles of support, pre-plannings, service plans and the TIMAS client documentation. Kyle will also take over supervising the transportation program and will be more involved with incident management.


Sherry Stack will be promoted to an agency case manager, and Whitney Leake has been named a residential supervisor. LaCretia Greer will become the new house manager at Toddington.


Cunningham said he “looks forward to working with everyone in keeping Journeys an exceptional support agency for people with disabilities.”

Journeys in Community Living

1130 Haley Rd., Murfreesboro, Tenn. 37129

 Business Line:(615)890-4389 | Fax: (615)849-8727

Hours: Mon. - Fri. 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. | Join our email list.

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