When walking down Second Avenue, it was hard to miss the bright white-and-blue awnings of Bartella, a coffee and dessert shop in the heart of downtown Nashville. For Peter and Youstina, opening the restaurant had been a longtime dream.
The Nashvillians pooled all their savings with another couple to get the restaurant started. After a year of construction, Bartella finally opened its doors in late 2019, and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“We were working there and barely paying ourselves during COVID,” Peter said. “We were just trying to keep the business surviving.”
While Peter and Youstina raised a toddler and worked seven days a week to keep the restaurant alive, Bartella started racking up rave reviews among tourists and locals alike, earning hundreds of five-star reviews on Google. Business seemed to be looking up – and then it changed in an instant.
At 8 a.m. on Christmas Day, Peter got a call: Bartella and more than 40 other businesses and residences had been destroyed when an RV exploded earlier that morning on Second Avenue.
“It’s in the ground zero,” said Peter. “I don’t have a job now, I don’t have a business, and I lost all of the money I invested in the business.”
With the devastation leaving thousands of Nashvillians without a place to live or a job, local government and nonprofits quickly joined forces to provide immediate assistance to those impacted by the tragedy.
As part of this effort, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and the Community Resource Center partnered to provide emergency food and essential hygiene boxes to all those affected by the explosion.
Peter, Youstina, and their 2-year-old son Jonah, were just one of many families grateful to receive help when they need it most.
“It is a great feeling that someone is hearing my story and someone out there is willing to help,” said Peter. “Nashville is a good community, and we are thankful for the help.”
As our community continues to process, mend, and rebuild after the events of Dec. 25, and in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Second Harvest Food Bank is grateful to all who have volunteered, donated, or helped spread the word about food insecurity. You’re the reason Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee is in a position to help when the unthinkable happens.
LOOK FOR THE HELPERS
Second Harvest is part of a dedicated group of government and nonprofit entities that will continue to ensure Nashville bombing victims are housed, clothed, and fed until they can get back on their feet.
These efforts are being led by Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County’s Office of Emergency Management, which has formed the Nashville/Davidson County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD). This committee is designed to quickly harness the resources and knowledge of local disaster relief agencies to provide immediate assistance in a crisis.
In the case of the Christmas Day explosion, VOAD response included a drive-thru distribution on New Year’s Day, which is where we met Peter and Youstina. In addition to emergency food and hygiene boxes provided by Second Harvest and Community Resource Center, on that day those affected by the explosion also received assistance from Hands On Nashville, Salvation Army, Red Cross of Tennessee, Catholic Charities, Inspiritus, and the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
Join Second Harvest in providing hope and resources to our neighbors during difficult times. When you donate your time, food, or funds, you are helping the children, families, and seniors, who are struggling in our community.
And if you, or someone you know, is in need of emergency food assistance, please visit Second Harvest’s Find Food tool. You can also text ‘FEEDS’ to 797979 or call 2-1-1. We are here to help!