Crossroads Campus helps homeless youth and animals find better lives

Brenda Batey | GCA News

Amber Schelfe with Raven, one of the puppies available for adoption at Crossroads Campus.      - photo by Brenda Batey

Amber Schelfe with Raven, one of the puppies available for adoption at Crossroads Campus. – photo by Brenda Batey

Young adults and pets who need a safe place to land are finding it at Crossroads Campus, which brings the two together in a mutually beneficial situation.

Crossroads is a relatively new non-profit which works to create and foster caring connections between people and pets. Through its diverse programs, it brings people from all walks of life together to make a difference in the lives of homeless animals and young people in the community.

“Powerful life lessons can be learned through caring for others,” said Executive Director Lisa Stetar. “This concept is at the heart of all we do at Crossroads Campus. We have a deep love and appreciation for two-legged and four-legged members of our community and work hard to better the lives of both through the healing power of the human-animal bond.

“To reach young people who need our help, we partner with agencies such as Oasis Center and Martha O’Bryan Center,” Stetar said. “We also work in partnership with Metro Animal Care and Control (MACC) to rescue abandoned animals and place them in loving homes. We provide shelter, food, training, and, of course, lots of love while the pets await their forever family,” Stetar said.

“Through our programs, we strive to enhance empathy and compassion for all living things through positive interactions with animals, educate and empower people to take care of their pets, and find loving homes for dogs and cats,” Program Director Barbara Lonardi said.

“In addition, we offer paid job training internships to young adults who lack the connections and experience needed to break into the workforce and provide affordable housing for homeless young adults, offering stability, safety and community to those who need it most,” Lonardi said.

Crossroads also runs a store offering food and other products, and grooming services to dog and cat lovers in the community, which serves as a job training ground for Nashville’s youth and a pet adoption hub for rescued animals.

The shop makes it possible for Crossroads to provide paid, job-training internships for young people, ages 17 to early 20s. The interns help run the store and care for the adoptable pets, gaining work readiness and job and social skills that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to develop.

By working the register, stocking shelves, greeting customers, assisting with dog grooming and caring for the pets, young adults involved in the program learn confidence, responsibility, and life lessons that they will carry with them into adulthood.

“We believe that every individual should have the opportunity to become a beneficial and productive member of the community. Job training is just one way we help Nashville’s youth see their value and develop a sense of purpose and empowerment,” Stetar said.

Crossroads has a residential program which the organization’s staff hopes to expand soon.
“Many of the young people we serve are struggling to overcome difficult pasts as they work to transition into adulthood and independent living, which can be both intimidating and expensive,” Stetar said.

“As Nashville continues to develop, affordable housing options are becoming less and less prevalent, and many youth are facing homelessness. We want to be able to offer the young adults involved in our programs safe, affordable housing,” Stetar said.

“We have a residential space above our store that houses some of our youth as they transition into adulthood and independent living,” Lonardi said.

The facility is ADA accessible and has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a shared community and kitchen space, an office, a laundry room, and a covered deck.

Residents will be supervised and will be involved in activities and training programs that build community and equip them for financial independence and job success.

They pay income-based rent and can stay in the space anywhere from a few months to two years. Occupants are required to follow program rules and work with the social worker and housing supervisor to develop housing, education and career goals and plans.

“Through the residential program, we hope to provide a safe and affordable environment and equip youth with the skills they need to face the next stage of adulthood with confidence,” Stetar said.

Crossroads Campus is located at 707 Monroe Street in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood.

or more information, call 615-712-9758, email, or visit