Any time I hear a story of someone doing something positive in the world I want to grab onto that story. With so much brokenness in the world, it is so encouraging to hear stories of people genuinely seeking to make a positive impact. Our guest today is seeking to do just that. Alex Craft is a friend of mine from the touring world and he has started a project called “Hope House Nashville.” This project is a short-term rental where a portion of the proceeds goes towards sponsoring children in 3rd-world countries through non-profit organizations such as Compassion International, World Vision, and Food For the Hungry. Check out his story below and learn how you can get involved AND book his AirBNB for any trip to Nashville you have.
Hope House Nashville with Alex Craft
Alex and I met on tour a few years back. I was road managing a band (former guests, Love And The Outcome) and Alex was the tour rep for our sponsoring organization Food For The Hungry. Being a tour rep means that Alex is in charge of providing concertgoers with information on what these non-profit organizations do and how people can get involved to further the mission and vision of these organizations.
Alex started as a tour rep for World Vision in 2013 when he went on tour with the Harlem Globetrotters (how cool!!). Eventually, he wanted to be more in the music touring world, so he moved to Nashville to get involved in that scene. Since then, Alex has repped for organizations such as Compassion International, Food For The Hungry, and World Vision on various tours, traveling throughout the USA and educating people on how they can get involved in making a difference in the world.
What Do These Organizations Do?
While all three of these organizations are different in how they operate, their main source of funding is through child sponsorship. What that means is that you, the sponsor, can sponsor a child for a small fee (usually around $38/month), and that fee either goes directly to the child or directly to a community in need. These organizations not only provide funding for these communities, but they also provide education for children and adults in an attempt to build a foundation these communities can stand on for years to come.
How can you get involved? It’s really simple! Just check out any / all of the organizations below for information on how you can make a difference!
What Is Hope House Nashville?
Alex got the idea for Hope House Nashville when he heard about Jeremy Cowart’s Purpose Hotel, another very cool project by someone working to do something positive in the world. Instead of doing a full hotel, Alex decided to start with an AirBNB where a portion of every rental goes to support 3 specific sponsor children. He has the bedrooms of the house set up with pictures of the children the proceeds are benefitting, as well as sponsorship information in case any guests are interested in sponsoring a child themselves.
In addition to the stories and resources provided at the house, Alex has also partnered with local businesses in Nashville who believe in what he is doing! The Well, Red Bicylye, and Chicfila are all giving guests either a drink card or a food coupon when they stay at Hope House Nashville! This is a pretty awesome perk as an AirBNB guest, especially because these are 3 of my favorite places around:
Nashville is becoming an “it city.” Many of you may have family here or are planning to travel here for the holidays. Let’s get Hope House Nashville booked solid! The house is incredibly convenient to both the airport and downtown Nashville. There’s a lot of room for your family, AND your stay is truly making a difference in the world. If you are planning a trip to Nashville at any point, please check out Hope House Nashville.
We’d Be Remiss If We Didn’t Offer A Few AirBNB Tips
The short-term rental economy is booming, and we know a lot of you are renting out your spaces on AirBNB, VRBO, and the like. We wanted to offer a couple quick tips and tricks for those of you who are renting out your spaces!
Home Automation. Especially if you aren’t living in the space you’re renting, home automation is a MUST HAVE. If you remember our Episode 11: Home Automation and How To Make Your Home Smart, we talked about how the bottom line is convenience. You don’t want to have to drive to your rental property just because someone left the lights on or decided they wanted to set the thermostat to 62 degrees and left it. Get some smart bulbs, get a smart thermostat, automate your rental property.
If it’s not your primary residence, don’t go overboard on quality. This might be the only time that we say something like this! As a general rule, renters are not going to treat your stuff as well as you would treat it. You’re going to have to replace things regularly, whether large or small. Don’t go overboard on big items thinking that they’ll last forever like they would in your primary residence. Get quality, but don’t go overboard.
Kitchen Essentials. This is something that is often overlooked and can be really frustrating for people staying in your space. You need to provide everything needed in your rental for your guests to make a meal. This is everything from pots, pans, baking dishes, etc. to salt, pepper, and even olive oil! Try cooking a meal for yourself there if possible - that’ll really show you what you’re missing!
Keep Up With Alex
You can keep up with Alex on Instagram! He’s @craftalex. Be sure to give him a follow and check out all the places he’ll be on tour!
If you want to book the Hope House Nashville AirBNB, check the listing here. Seriously, let’s get it booked up!
Things He’s Loving
Alex is loving exploring new places when he’s on tour! Whether that’s walking around a small town or checking out a local coffee in a big city, he’s just enjoying getting out and exploring wherever he is.
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Alex Craft Full Auto-Bio
“The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
I think that we all want our lives to matter. So the question comes down to, how are we going to make it count? For me, back when I was in college, I figured that being involved in the music industry in some capacity would be a great way to make use of precious time on this planet. I still experience how certain songs move my soul in the best way possible. During those euphoric moments, all cares and worries fall by the wayside and I'm lost in the moment of feeling fully alive wrapped up in the notes, melodies, and rhythms of something that's hard to put into words. Working in the music industry I felt would have been a way for me to ensure that others continue to experience the same thing as much as possible. I know I'm not the only one that gets lost in moments like that. There's something sacred that transpires when a song moves us enough to see from another perspective, become self-aware of how we are living our lives, and then take action to course correct and live differently. Music is a gift.
Another way I thought I could contribute to society would be to work for a non-profit. I grew up ringing bells for the Salvation Army at Christmas time with my family, delivering turkeys, etc. to families in need around Thanksgiving, helping at soup kitchens from time to time, doing walks to raise money for this and that, and hearing bands at concerts talk about sponsoring kids in the 3rd world. I was taught to invest in things that make a long term difference and that will change the story for the world’s most vulnerable. Simply put, to leave this world better than I found it. Working for a non-profit would be a great, practical way to accomplish these things and have that sense of satisfaction that comes with helping others. I've believed for many years now in what Sir Winston Churchill once said, "We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give."
Fast forward to a few years after graduating from Michigan State. I had now done an internship with a record label in Nashville, done another with the non-profit World Vision out in Seattle, and worked a few different jobs from barista to waiter to behind a desk in corporate America. I was still trying to figure things out and realize what would set my soul on fire. I was tired of hopping from job to job but not really feeling excited about any of them. I was ready for a change but unsure as to how to move forward. Thank the Lord at just the right time World Vision reached out to me because of my internship experience and asked if I wanted to tour with the Harlem Globetrotters on behalf of World Vision!! I'd seen them when I was a kid but honestly just wasn't aware that they were still touring. I was ready to take on a new challenge, some risk, and quit my job working behind a desk. I was ready for a new adventure! So I took the gig not knowing what other tours or work would be available after. I spent 4 months straight on the road with the Globetrotters and then did other World Vision events. The following 2 years were very similar and I loved it! I got to tour all around the country, encourage people to make an impact through child sponsorship and meet volunteers (mostly World Vision sponsors!) that were so passionate about using their time and resources to see this world changed for the better. I moved to Nashville in September of 2015 with the hopes that I'd be able to start doing concert tours on behalf of World Vision. While they didn't happen to have any tours to offer yet I ended up beginning to represent Compassion International as well. I'd been personally involved in sponsoring kids with them for years and they were actually the first NGO I started sponsoring kids with back in college.
Quick story about that...back in the summer of 2007 I was at a music festival called Cornerstone. In between bands they showed a video about Compassion International's work and then a speaker shared a story and encouraged people to sponsor a child. It was something that I really wanted to do! I was moved to sponsor, but as I was in significant debt from school and was only working in my dorm's cafeteria I disqualified myself from participating. The concert ended and everyone began walking back to their campsites for the night. As I made my way from the concert to our tent I stumbled upon a child sponsorship packet that someone had left behind on the hill. At that moment, I simply felt like I was supposed to take a step of faith and trust that if I was open to trying to fight for that child and make it a priority, it wouldn't be a problem. I realized as I picked up it up that it was an opportunity to know without a shadow of a doubt that I was changing at least one person’s story for the better. That with whatever time I had left on this planet I could use some of my resources to help someone less fortunate get out of a difficult situation. I didn't want to wait until "one day" when my circumstances would be different and I'd finally feel comfortable "sacrificing" a little bit of money every month. I wanted to make a difference today! I'm so glad that I did as that not only helped me begin to understand how child sponsorship makes an impact but it planted that seed of passion within me to be open to opportunities that directly help other people.
Back to Nashville in 2015. I was now doing events for Compassion International and encouraging others to sponsor children in the 3rd world. They have these incredible exhibits inside semi-trucks that travel around the country called the Compassion Experience. You walk through various rooms with a headset and experience what life is like for real people that went through Compassion's child sponsorship program and learn how it helped lift them out of really horrific situations. Check out compassionexperience.com. Anywho, so very cool to now be representing the first organization that I started sponsoring kids through! It was the Spring of 2016 when World Vision asked me to do my very first concert tour! I went out with some artists whose music I really loved and whose songs moved my soul. It was incredible to finally be part of a concert tour where I could play a small role in getting children sponsored and hear some of my favorite songs belted out by some of my favorite artists night after night. This has been replicated time and time again now on tour after tour over the last several years.
I've also had the tremendous privilege of representing a phenomenal NGO called Food for the Hungry that, similar to World Vision, also focuses on community development through child sponsorship. I began doing tours for FH in the Spring of 2017 and it's been such a blast to learn more and more about how they're serving people all over the world. It's still hard to believe that I get to do something for a living that I believe in so very much and actually have a fun time doing it! Looking back to high school and college I never would have dreamt or could have imagined that there would be a job out there for me that I'd be so passionate about. One that blends both the opportunity to connect people with amazing organizations helping some of the poorest people on earth while being on the road with artists that are singing songs of hope and wanting to see this world be transformed and changed for the better. I was able to find my dream job where the music industry and the non-profit worlds collide! It's all come full circle from years ago when I thought I had to choose either doing something with music or a charity.
I love the different elements of being a tour representative and the benefits that come along with it. I set up/tear down our booths and train local volunteers to help me distribute the packets at shows, answer questions, and help people sign up to sponsor children. Knowing exactly how many kids got sponsored each night and all the people in their communities that'll be helped as well for generations to come is extremely fulfilling. Having been touring since 2013 now, at every show I run into volunteers that have helped me at other events. I love all the little reunions that take place all over the country as I travel around. Touring with some of the same artists/tours multiple times also builds relationships so it's wonderful having that sense of community even when I'm away from home. Riding on a tour bus was a thrill for a while but I still haven't gotten used to sleeping in a "coffin" or bunk haha! Being someone that grew up having a hard time figuring out "what to do with my life", I'm so thankful for God's providence and how He orchestrated for all of this to take place in His timing.
'Hope is passion for what is possible."
Hope House Nashville is a dream realized only because of the blood, sweat and tears of a group of friends of mine and the prayers of many. They've believed in its mission so much that they were willing to sacrifice many hours over many, many weeks to help the house become what it is now. Weeks consumed with sanding down walls, priming and painting everything, scouring websites for furniture and decor, putting all the furniture together, literally dozens of trips to Home Depot and Lowes, and so many other details that required time and sacrifice. So many obstacles also seemed to continue to get in the way of forward motion with this project from having to prime and paint the walls, ceilings, trim, and baseboards 4X over to not having electricity for 40 days!!!...yeah. A lot of cold showers and late nights walking around the house with a flashlight working on various tasks. Don't worry, electricity has been restored! In the last 4 years in Nashville, I've lived in 15 different places sleeping on couches, futons, air mattresses, and beds to continue saving for the down payment on my first home as I was mostly on the road touring. While it wasn't easy it allowed me time to find the right place, save up money, and learn a lot about what it means to be a homeowner and own a rental unit. But isn't this simply what's typically necessary when you have a desire to create something of significance and beauty? Rarely do these dreams come to fruition with little effort, time or work. Much is always required of us to make progress and create something that's actually worth creating.
I think the last several years and especially months were a good reminder that great things take time to happen and so often also requires others stepping up to lend a helping hand. It's no different in these communities all over the world where these incredible organizations have been doing their work for decades to serve the poorest people on the planet. It takes time to develop communities in the 3rd world that lack infrastructure and access to simple basic necessities like clean water and sanitation. Poverty is very complex and there are never cookie cutter solutions. However, what I love about these NGO's is that they customize solutions to these difficult issues because that is exactly what is required. What works as far as the types of water projects in Kenya may not necessarily work in villages in Haiti. The problems that villages in Ethiopia are facing may look very different than those in Cambodia. These charities are also listening to locals and not trying to go in and fix everything themselves for people. They realize the value in teaching people "how to fish" so that they become self-sufficient over time and take ownership of the transformation that's needed. They learn how to build their own water wells and repair them as issues arise, how to grow their own nutritious food and how to start up their own businesses. But it does take time.
It also requires the help of others. That's the opportunity that child sponsorship provides. It simply offers people with the means to give the ability to invest in a community that's in desperate need of a helping hand. Not to do things FOR them but WITH them. It's a beautiful partnership that takes place when someone decides to sponsor a child. A sponsor’s monthly donation is used to invest in progress, transformation, and ultimately to provide hope. As children are sponsored, programs and projects can begin to take shape and make an impact. Letters between sponsors and children make a difference for both parties as well. A relationship is developed where sponsors and kids get to know each other over time. Statistically speaking, kids that receive more letters from their sponsor tend to stay in school longer. The encouragement from a sponsor CAN make a difference as kids hold onto the hope that their surroundings and circumstances can change. Sponsors learn how they're helping and gain the confidence that a difference can be made through a monthly donation and correspondence with their child. Over time and with the consistent support of sponsors these communities eventually thrive on their own for generations to come. In addition to all this, people come to understand their identity, worth and value and believe that hope changes things. It's INCREDIBLE...AND IT'S ALL WORKING!!! The number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen from nearly 1.9 billion in 1990 to about 650 million in 2018!! Amazing!!
Hope House Nashville simply provides the opportunity to book my home and automatically make a difference in the lives of the world’s most vulnerable! A portion of guests rental fee will go to continuing the sponsorship of 3 children through World Vision, Compassion International, and Food for the Hungry. As they have over the years, they'll continue to receive gifts for birthdays, Christmas, and special donations to help them, their family and their community. Adijatu (World Vision), Bereket (Compassion International), and Maycol (Food for the Hungry) are some of the children that I've been sponsoring myself over the years. Many letters and pictures have gone back and forth showing their growth and development and the impact that's being made in their lives as well as the areas in which they live. In each of the downstairs bedrooms of my home, there is a picture of one of the kids with a little bit of information about them. Nearby, you can also flip through the pictures and letters that I've received over time to gain a better understanding of what it looks like to sponsor a child. It's been such an honor and privilege to be these kids’ sponsor. I simply want to, as best I can, show as many others as possible the difference that's being made through these NGO's. As I tour around and see thousands of children sponsored over the course of a few weeks at the concerts I'm working, it'll be fulfilling to know that at the very least my guests can be aware of some non-profits making a significant impact in our world.
I believe in the work that's being done not only because of the thousands of people I know that also sponsor children and have done their research but because I've seen the work in the field with my own eyes!! In September of 2017, I went to Guatemala with World Vision to visit various communities and it was an incredible experience! A friend of mine met his sponsored child, we saw many programs that have been started to help children learn about health and hygiene and help moms learn how to make nutritious meals for their children. We even learned about a music program that's been implemented in all World Vision communities in Guatemala due to its success in helping people build confidence in simply learning something new. I also got to go to Peru in August of 2018 with Food for the Hungry to visit my sponsored child, Maycol! Two weeks prior I had my nephews pick out Maycol online to sponsor! I was able to meet him, his mother, and sister at their home and spend some time communicating through a translator. Super cool to hear about his dreams for his and his family's life! As a group, we were 16,000ft up in the mountains to visit some areas of Peru! We went to a few kids clubs where it's a safe space for them to learn and play, gatherings of women that are taught by the FH staff and then one another about gardening and hygiene, and heard about the hopes and dreams that people have for their communities. It was an unbelievable experience to share with friends that work and also tour rep for FH. The amazing thing is anyone that sponsors a child can meet their child and see the transformation with their own eyes!! I HIGHLY recommend it!
Through Hope House Nashville I'd, of course, LOVE to see as many children get sponsors as possible. Each of us individually can only do so much but together we can see this world change. This is why I've set up a sponsorship station in my dining room where anyone can select a child that they would like to sponsor. This is certainly not a requirement when staying as my guests as there is no pressure whatsoever to do this. I hope though that by reading my story, staying at Hope House Nashville and perhaps looking at these charities’ websites that you'd feel inspired enough to at least briefly consider sponsoring a child. This is not a guilt thing. This is simply an opportunity to make a real, lasting, positive difference in the world we live in. There are some pens available if you'd like to take one along with some different kinds of brochures. The child sponsorship packets, however, are only for those that are going to sponsor that child as there is only one packet for each child in existence. To "sweeten the pot", I'm more than happy to cover your first month donation as a sponsor! It'd be an honor to get you started so please let me know if this is something that you'd like for me to do. Also, if you do sponsor, you are welcome to take one of the books with you that's located at the sponsorship station. Lastly, I would love to hook you up with concert tickets as I'm able to for whatever tours I'm on! If we're going through your city and you'd like to attend, I'll do my very best to ensure you've got a ticket! Or you may just choose to volunteer, see the show for free and help me get more kids sponsored!! Just a few extras for those that want to get involved!! :)
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story!! I hope that you can sense and understand the heart behind why I've spent the last 6 years of my life on the road and why I have chosen to start Hope House Nashville. Enjoy your time in my home and experiencing all that Nashville has to offer!! God bless!!
“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spike into the wheel itself.”