Morning Star Sanctuary, Inc.
  A Christian refuge for victims of Domestic Violence.

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The latest news from Morning Star Sanctuary...

Morning Star was blessed in a big way today. Leesa and Galyn Dalton brought 20 fleece blankets (with Bible verses embroidered on them by Leesa) for the children in our care. When they left, Leesa said, "Just let me know when you give them out so I can replenish, either for a boy or a girl".
John told Galyn and Leesa how much it means. Galyn simply said, "It's for kids."

It is hearts like these that lift the fallen, heal the wounded, and restore the broken. Thank you both!


A BIG "THANK YOU" to Direct Insurance Madison, Tennessee for the 6 foot stocking stuffed with Christmas toys for the kids in our care during the holiday.
It is generosity like this that makes a real difference in children's lives.



John Pugh, Executive Director of Morning Star visited the DA’s Office in October to discuss ongoing efforts to assist victims of domestic violence. Morning Star Sanctuary's mission is to provide refuge for victims and children who have fled abusive relationships and to help empower them to break the cycle of violence. The agency also provides assistance with filing orders of protection at their satellite office in night court.



Tonight was a great success because of YOU! We will now be able to provide over 5,000 nights of safe stay for women and children. We are stopping the cycle of domestic violence. The decorations, meal and fellowship provided will go a long way in promoting Morning Star and making the community aware of Domestic Violence today. What an amazing way to help Victims heal and become Survivors.



Morning Star "Walking with the Stars 5K" was a success!!
Senator Steve Dickerson was with us, WKRN NEWS2 came out to cover, we all braved the rain potential and had a great morning making a difference, and we all had "a RICE day"!

Gnash and John Pugh say...

"Domestic ain't welcome 'round here no more! You gotta go! Now get to steppin'!"


2015 and Beyond!

On September 22, 2014, after much prayer, preparation and God’s providence, Morning Star was able to finalize the loan documents required to secure a loan for the purchase of the property.  While this is an incredible blessing and positive move for our future, we are very much in need of your assistance and prayers in 2015 in order to pay off the loan as soon as possible and move forward with our planning for the future.  We look forward with great anticipation to what God has in store for Morning Star and all of our friends and contributors in 2015 and beyond!



At the November 2014 Mentor meeting, Gena Hull was awarded the 2014 Mentor of the Year Award by the Morning Star Mentor Program.  Gena has been such an integral force in all aspects of the various programs of Morning Star for many years.  She is a tenacious advocate, an effective presenter, a gifted grant writer, a living, breathing, walking library of information regarding all things related to domestic violence, a wonderful friend to everyone associated with Morning Star, and a strong survivor.  Congratulations Gena!



In October, Sweet CeCe’s in Nolensville hosted a fundraising night to benefit Morning Star. It was a great evening of raising awareness for Morning Star, as well as enjoying sweet treats with some of our precious supporters.



On October 18, 2014, one of our very own survivors was awarded the 2014 “Survivor of the Year’ presented by the Nashville Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  While this is an incredible honor, it is also a tremendous testimony to her courage and determination, and stands as an example for all survivors everywhere.  She is also a beautiful example of courage, faith, determination, tenacity, and strength, for everyone.



In September and November, Ginger Turner and friends collected treasures and put together a Treasures and More sale. We appreciate all those who donated to the sale, as well as those who attended. All proceeds will be used for ongoing repairs and maintenance at the shelter.



Thank you for your generosity at Seasons of Hope this year. Our Second Annual Seasons of Hope was an overwhelming success! We had over 300 in attendance at Rocketown. Taziki’s Mediterranean Café did a fabulous job catering our event this year. With the funds donated we will be able to keep our shelter open for another year. Thank you for your continued support.  Mark your calendars for our 3rd Annual event in 2015!


It was a WONDERFUL day!
On Thursday, July 12, thirty-seven golf teams and an army of volunteers gathered at the beautiful Hermitage Golf Course for our annual Golf Tournament.  At the end of the day, it was clear that it had been a huge success with the presentation of a check for $53,000 to benefit victims of domestic violence.  Less than a week later, the total is now approximately $65,000 and the donations are still coming in!

Pictured above are Mike Eller, event Co-Chair, Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall,
event Co-Chair Linda Johnston, Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson
and MSS Executive Director John Pugh.

Our Lunch Sponsor was Chick-Fil-A and our Dinner Sponsor was Jim & Nicks.  Among the many people and businesses supporting MSS this year was The Danner Foundation, Team Construction, Stites and Harbison and Bridgestone Firestone. 

Finally, we want to thank all the golfers and volunteers who made this day possible.  Everyone who participated found their own way to make a difference every day!


Approximately 350 people attended the 15th Annual Christmas of Hope Dinner and Auction which was held on Tuesday, December 4.  The evening was filled with great food, music by Phil Sanders and a spirited live auction led by T. Clark Miller.  A special thanks goes out to Walt Leaver, who once again served as our Master of Ceremonies.  Board Member Madison Martin shared her experiences as a survivor of domestic violence, specifically how her struggle would have been very different if their had been an organization like Morning Star Sanctuary in the city she lived in at the time.  Walt then read the stories of twelve survivors of domestic violence who have been assisted by Morning Star Sanctuary as they gave a very visible picture to the event guests through a cardboard testimonial.  It takes a lot of courage to be open and honest with people about a struggle like this and we were blessed to have each of them there.

Even more important than the dinner, auction items or time spent with family and friends is the fact that
approximately $80,000 was raised that will go directly to Morning Star Sanctuary in support of the programs and the never-ending client referrals we get that need help in leaving their abuser and starting a new life.  For that, we are especially grateful and humbled by the trust that each donor places in us each day.


Morning Star Sanctuary receives grant funding from Verizon Wireless

Morning Star Sanctuary submitted a grant application to the Verizon Foundation recently and was awarded $13,747 which will be used to directly support the programs that serve domestic violence victims.  Mr. Alan Willett, Director of Operations for Verizon Wireless attended the 2012 Christmas of Hope Dinner and Auction and presented the check before the beginning of the evening's activities.  Pictured with Mr. Willett is Dr. Kellye Rice, Chair of the Morning Star Sanctuary Board of Directors and other organization board members and volunteers.
Thank you Verizon Wireless!!
Is that a race car in the lobby of the Embassy Suites?

Mason Mingus is one of the rising stars in the sport of stock car racing and he has recently become a very visible supporter of Morning Star Sanctuary.  In addition to attending the 2012 Christmas of Hope Auction and Dinner on Tuesday, December 4, he displayed his race car in the lobby of the Embassy Suites for all our guests to see.  By sporting the Morning Star Sanctuary logo and website address on the hood of his car, we are now reaching a huge segment of the population that we have never been able to inform about what is being done in the fight against domestic violence.  Pictured with Mason's car is Dr. Kellye Rice, who serves as Chair of the Morning Star Sanctuary Board of Directors.

Thank you, Mason!

Help for the youngest victims of domestic violence

Many times the face of domestic violence is not just an adult woman, but also includes her children and even very small infants.  To help fill a specific need for diapers and baby wipes, dental patients of Dr. Kellye Rice brought in supplies that went directly to the Morning Star Sanctuary Emergency Residence to help these little victims.

This is a great example of how families, sports teams, school classes, book clubs, etc. can help make a difference in the lives of those served by Morning Star Sanctuary.  For more information about making a specific donation and to learn about current needs, please contact us and we will be happy to get you and your group started.

On Thursday, October 25th, Evelyn And Roy Odum were presented The 2012 Annual Award of Service from Financial Resources for Women and Children. We appreciate their tireless efforts!


We're in the FAST lane!!

Mason Mingus, a rising star in the race car world from right here in Nashville, will be driving this car in the All-American 400 this Saturday, October 6 at the Nashville Fairgrounds.  With a crowd expected to be close to 20,000, this is a unique way to spread the word about Morning Star Sanctuary.  We invite all our friends and supporters to come to the race tomorrow and cheer Mason on to victory.  This car would look awesome crossing the finish line under a checkered flag!


Celebration of Art

Mark your calendar for a "Celebration of Art" Art Show and Sale on Sunday, October 14 from 5-8pm.  Local artist Gayla Pugh uses her unique talent to take items that are broken, discarded and forgotten to create things of beauty and light...much the same way that domestic violence victims can go from a place of brokenness and despair to a place of hope and joy!  Go to our NEWS page and get all the details, then join us for a fun evening while supporting a great cause! 
A portion of all sales will go directly to Morning Star
Sanctuary in support of our efforts to provide
programs for domestic violence victims and their families.



A Unique Opportunity for Real Change

One of the goals of the board and staff of Morning Star Sanctuary is to educate offenders on the far reaching extent of their crime and explain to them how many people they are affecting by their actions.  In this way, we hope to help them develop a new mindset so they can change their behavior and stop committing domestic violence.  To assist with this goal, Morning Star Sanctuary has been awarded a $9,000 grant from the Davidson County Sheriff's Department to provide education and training to individuals who are incarcerated for domestic violence.  These sessions will begin in September, meeting weekly for six weeks and will be come from a victim's "perspective".  We are grateful for this collaboration with the Sheriff's Department's SAVE Program (Sheriff's Anti-Violence Effort) and appreciate the new opportunity that has come from our long-standing relationship with Sheriff Daron Hall and his staff.


What An Honor!!!
Morning Star Sanctuary has received notification from The Boulevard Bolt Allocations Committee that we have been approved to receive $3,000 from the proceeds of the Boulevard Bolt 5K Walk/Run, which will be held on Thanksgiving Day, November 22nd.  Proceeds from The Boulevard Bolt assist agencies who deal with with issues of homelessness.  Morning Star Sanctuary serves this distinct population because domestic violence creates a situation of homelessness.  The vast majority of those we serve come to us with nothing and have no housing options available.  We are very grateful for this new partnership with The Boulevard Bolt and for providing all of us another way to make a difference.  If you want to take part in The Boulevard Bolt this year, please visit their website at to register or to make a donation.

On Friday, August 24th, Morning Star Sanctuary was represented by John Pugh and Gena Hull at a reception and check presentation from the Altria Companies Employee Community Fund.  The ACECF was established to provide employees of Altria an opportunity to be more actively involved in serving their communities.  Employee volunteers make all of the funding decisions and every dollar raised goes directly to support area nonprofits.

Morning Star Sanctuary applied for a grant to increase the operating hours in the Order of Protection Office located in the Davidson County Criminal Justice Center.  Local law enforcement personnel, the District Attorney's office and Night Court Commissioners have all urged MSS to extend our operating hours in order serve victims who come in after our usual closing time of 10pm.  With the grant award of $12,000 from The ACECF, we will now be able to meet the need for extended hours. 

We want to thank the Altria Corporation's Altria Companies Employee Community Fund for partnering with Morning Star Sanctuary to make a difference in protecting victims of domestic violence.


Thank you, Nashville!
The 1st Annual Walking With The Stars 5K was held recently and it was a big success!  Over 100 people braved the heat to join us in the walk and approximately $3,500 was raised in support of the programs and services offered by Morning Star Sanctuary.  Click HERE to get a sample of the day.


A day at Brentwood Country Club brought...

-76 Golfers
-More than a dozen volunteers
-Breakfast by First Watch Cafe
-Lunch sponsored by Community Health Systems

$18,500 donated to assist domestic violence victims being served every day at Morning Star Sanctuary!!!

A huge thank you goes to MSS Board Member, Amy Cottrell and the Women's Charity Event Committee for making this special day possible!


Dr. Kellye Rice, who serves as Chair of the Morning Star Sanctuary board of directors is pleased to announce the following staff changes & recognitions:

Rhonda Yaeger has accepted the position of Residential Program Manager at our shelter.  Rhonda has transferred to this position from her position as Morning Star Night Court Advocate.  Rhonda is active in our Mentoring Program, as well as the Nashville Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  Welcome Rhonda!

Replacing Rhonda as Night Court Advocate is Helena Vrailas.  Helena worked with Morning Star until 2010, when she went on to work with the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence.  Her return to us has already received high praise from many associated with our downtown offices.

Also of note, our Executive Director, John Pugh was chosen earlier this year as the 2012 co-chair for the Nashville Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  The Coalition is a network of advocates throughout the city representing agencies, city government, law enforcement, non profits, and at large advocates as we strive to make a positive difference and help to reduce the alarming statistics in Nashville related to domestic violence.

Thank You Predators!

Morning Star Sanctuary was honored to receive a grant award of $5,000 from The Predators Foundation last week. 

The funds will be used to purchase "school kits", including school uniforms and supplies, for children who are housed in the Morning Star Sanctuary Emergency Residence. 

Linda Johnston, a Morning Star board member and volunteer, accepted the check at the presentation ceremony.


                     DRIVE a brand new car and HELP Morning Star Sanctuary!

Please join us on Tuesday, April 10th, from 2pm to 7pm in the parking lot of the David Lipscomb High School football field (located on Caldwell Lane between Lealand Lane and Granny White Pike) to participate in the FORD DRIVE ONE 4 UR SCHOOL event presented by Crown Ford.  Drivers* will get a chance to drive a new Ford car or truck, such as an Explorer, F-150, Edge, Escape, Flex, Fiesta, Focus and more.  It only takes 15 minutes and for every person who participates, $20 will be donated with a portion of the funds allocated to Morning Star Sanctuary.  No follow-up sales calls will be made (unless you request it).  You'll only be asked to fill out a brief survey about the car you drive.  What could be better than that?

*Drivers must be age 18 and above with a valid drivers license.  Limit one per household.  Participants under age 18 are allowed to ride with a valid driver.


                                     Welcome To Our New Board Members!

Organizations are only as good as the people who make them up.  Morning Star Sanctuary did not get to the present place of excellence, service and reputation without the dedicated efforts of our Board of Directors.  The members of our board give willingly of their time and resources to make sure that the mission of Morning Star Sanctuary is met each day.  Recently, three more people were added to this amazing group and we are honored to introduce them to our supporters:

Lynda Jones, Managing Attorney, The Jones Law Group - Lynda was awarded her Jurus Doctor from University of Memphis in 1989.  Recognitions include the 2011 Advocacy Award for NAMI Davidson County, 2010 Mid-South Super Lawyer and Nashville Business Journal 2009 Best of Bar.  She has a lengthy list of service in community leadership and volunteer work capacities with Morning Star Sanctuary and various professional affiliations.  Lynda is an active volunteer and participant in the annual Morning Star Sanctuary golf tournament.

Martha Kincade - Martha is a graduate of Lipscomb University and has 20 years experience in the teaching profession.  Presently, she is co-owner of Bonus Building Care with her husband, Earl.  She is mother to two grown sons and is a member of the Brentwood Hills Church of Christ.  Martha supports Morning Star Sanctuary through the annual golf tournament and Christmas of Hope events.

Ann Davis Robinson, Marketing and Operational Manager for Vanderbilt Owens School of Management - Ann is a graduate of the University of Mississippi and is a member of the Tusculum Church of Christ.  Ann and her husband, Derek, have been ardent supporters of Morning Star Sanctuary serving as Children's Mentoring Coordinators for more than five years and Volunteer Coordinators for both the golf tournament and Christmas of Hope events.

Go to our Board of Directors page to see the other members of our board.  If you have questions or suggestions for any of them, you can also send an email to each one directly from this page. 


Thank you to the FRIST FOUNDATION!!

Providing a safe and secure home to domestic violence victims is the first priority of the Emergency Residence.  Because the community around this home has changed in so many ways over the years, this has become increasingly difficult.  This has led Morning Star Sanctuary to take action in planning and implementing a two phase plan to upgrade the security around the residence.  Phase One of this plan includes the demolition of the old fence enclosing part of the yard.  This fence was falling down in several sections.  After destruction, plans call for construction of more than 400 running feet of privacy fence and security gates at the entrances.  Phase Two of the plan will include the addition of an upgraded security system including new cameras and a DVD recording system to prevent unauthorized entry and trespassing at the Emergency Residence.

A grant application was recently submitted to the Frist Foundation in support of the Phase 1 of the plan,  In February, John Pugh, Executive Director, received notification that the application had been approved and funded!  Within two weeks, work began with the tear down of the old fence, construction of the new fence and gates.  With this additional privacy feature, the residents of the Emergency Residence have confidence they are safe when going to and from the home and are comfortable spending time outdoors.  Below are pictures showing the project and the wonderful end result.

Many thanks go to the Frist Foundation for their belief in and support of the mission of Morning Star Sanctuary!

Tearing down the old fence sections

The new fence starts to go up

Just a small section of the entire project

One of the two security gates that protect our staff and residents.


Congratulations, Clara!!!

The Morning Star Sanctuary Board of Directors and Staff would like to recognize and congratulate Clara Cardenas, one of our Women's Advocates, on her recent award of the Presidential Award for Community Service.  Clara was recognized by President Obama for donating more than two hundred hours toward making her community a better place.

Clara has volunteered in the community in various ways, including helping to start three different Neighborhood Watch groups, organizing a flood prevention program and volunteering in many, many ways with Metro Nashville Schools.  Clara is active in our Mentoring Program and is a strong advocate for those we serve.

We are honored to recognize Clara for this outstanding accomplishment.  We are blessed to have Clara on our team and for her willingness to use her gifts and talents to make our community better!  Congratulations, Clara!!


We have the best volunteers in the world!!!

Without the time and talents of our many volunteers, Morning Star Sanctuary would not be able to impact the lives of domestic violence victims and their children in such great ways.  Recently, two of these wonderful individuals   were honored as Volunteers of the Year by Financial Resources for Women and Children.  For security purposes, we have chosen to identify the award recipients by their initials only.  However, we do want to tell you a little about their involvement and service to our organization.

After spending thirty-four years in Texas, N.W. moved back to the Nashville area in 2002.  Her sister, S.D., who has been an educator in Nashville for more than fourty years, was already involved in the Morning Star Mentoring Program so N.W. decided to join her in this work.  For ten years these two ladies have been faithful mentors meeting with their mentees and also caring for the children during regular, monthly Mentor meetings.


Following is the acceptance speech given by Rhonda Yaeger, when she was awarded The Brenda Brown Award as the Outstanding Domestic Violence Victim Advocate of the Year:

"I feel very fortunate to receive this honor today and I thank the Nashville Coalition Against Domestic Violence for nominating me.  I would also like to say thank you to all the victims of domestic violence who touch my life on a daily basis and who I continue to learn from.   Victims of domestic violence seeking to live their lives free from abuse are some of the strongest women I have met.  Many have told me that accessibility of services and resources along with mentoring is the key to building the strong foundation necessary to maintain an abuse free life.  This information is validated by studies that have shown that women who receive legal, medical and social systems advocacy are more likely to follow through with remedies available to them than women who do not receive advocacy.  Unfortunately with the economic climate being what it is, funding is decreasing and the need for services is increasing.  Studies reported by the National Network to End Domestic Violence show that domestic violence is more than three times as likely to occur when couples are experiencing financial strain as when they are not experience financial strain.   In addition the National Network to End Domestic Violence reports that “not enough funding” is the number one reason domestic violence service providers are unable to serve victims.   We all need to do what we can to facilitate an adequate level of funding on all levels (state, federal and local) in order to accommodate the needs of victims.  I would also like five very strong women who I have had the great privilege to know.  My mother and grandmother taught me about love and life.   These two women were very resilient in their circumstances and overcame hard times that showed me the importance of believing in what is right and just.  Also, I would like to thank Judge Gloria Dumas who has been a friend of mine through dark times as well as good times in both our lives.  She has been a part of my adult life from the time I could call myself an adult.  For those who are not aware of where she came from and what she has endured I can only say that we could all learn from her should she ever choose to tell her story.  She is a dear friend and mentor to me to me and I greatly appreciate her friendship.  In addition, I would like to thank Gena Hull and Rachel Terry have not only been a great inspiration to me in how they handle themselves personally, professionally they have also taught me how to see things in a different way when it comes to working with victims of domestic violence.   They encourage and motivate me on a daily basis and I appreciate them for all the work they do in the fight against domestic violence.   Lastly, I would like to thank my husband Joel for his never ending love and support and to all my friends and family who have been there for me as I continue to travel in my life's journey."


Morning Star Shelter Stats from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011

-We served 77 (unduplicated) women for a total of 2512 shelter nights

-We served 60 (unduplicated) children for a total of 1776 shelter nights

-We served 2 Youth IPV Victims for a total of 36 shelter nights

-We served 2 men for 8 shelter nights

-Total unduplicated clients served = 139 for a total of 4296 shelter nights

-We also answered 1287 crisis/hotline calls from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011

-119 adults were provided Support Group Counseling

-Mentoring Program had 19 adult participants and 20 children

-Mentoring Program has 43 active volunteer mentors

Morning Star Volunteers Stats from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011

-76 active volunteers (including board members)

-2,822 volunteer hours

Morning Star Night Court Project Stats from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011

-Funded by Metro CEF grant, Byrne Grant, and Cal Turner Foundation

-Assists victims of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault with their petitions for Orders of Protection, safety planning, and other services needed for their safety

-From July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011, the Night Court staff assisted 1,543 victims with their petitions

Morning Star Court Advocacy Program Stats from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011

-Partially funded by Metro CEF grant.  Remainder is funded by the Office of Criminal Justice Programs

-From July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011, Morning Star Court Advocates assisted a total of 1,473 victims with their permanent Orders of Protection and other services in criminal, juvenile, and civil courts

Morning Star HOPE children’s counseling stats from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011

-Provided counseling for 104 children, which is 15% higher than the previous fiscal year

-Established by Morning Star and the Domestic Violence Division of the Metro Police Department

-Child victims are referred to the HOPE program through juvenile court, the Department of Children’s Services, Legal Aid, the YWCA, and other shelters and programs.



On Monday, June 27, eighty-eight women golfers gathered at the Brentwood Country Club to take part in a very special day planned and directed by Amy Cottrell, who is a member of the Morning Star Sanctuary Board of Directors.  This was the second year for the "Brentwood Country Club 9 Hole Ladies" event and gave these women a way to assist other women while spending the day enjoying one of their favorite pastimes.

From the participation of the golfers and the many corporate sponsors, a $20,000 donation was made to support the much needed programs and services of Morning Star Sanctuary.

Omega was this year's Green Fee sponsor and the businesses and individuals listed below participated as hole sponsors.  Please join us in thanking them and contact our business sponsors for your personal or business needs.

Lexus                                                Sweet CeCe's                              Superior Homes & Remodeling
BMW                                                 Sonic Drive-In                             Michael Headrick
Land Rover                                        UBS                                            Soy Teriyaki Bistro
Well Planned Events                           Vanderbilt Hand Center                 The Brassfield Family
PricePoint Furniture                            Roesch-Patton Funeral Home         Caterpillar Financial Services
Dr. Kellye Rice, DMD                           Modern Marine                             Michael Portacci
Brentview Realty                                Paul and Lynne Anderson