Voices from the sector: Dr. Rhonda Switzer-Nadasdi and Steve Fleming

April 3, 2017

Voices from the sector: Dr. Rhonda Switzer-Nadasdi and Steve Fleming

How is gentrification affecting nonprofits? Hear from two leaders in the sector in these Q&As with Dr. Rhonda Switzer-Nadasdi of Interfaith Dental Clinic and Steve Fleming of Bethlehem Centers, as part of CNM's "Changing Nashville Neighborhoods: What's Next?" event.

 

Dr. Rhonda Switzer-Nadasdi, CEO of Interfaith Dental Clinic

Q: Interfaith Dental Clinic is located right in Midtown. What are your plans for your location?

A: We have a "FOR SALE" sign outside of our building as of today. [Q&A took place on Feb. 8, 2017.] If the number we are offered is high, we have options of where we can relocate -- and for a long time, people have been wandering in and offering us money for our building. We want to stay in Davidson County and near an interstate.

Q: What made Interfaith decide to relocate?

A: We did a heat map of where our clients are coming from and we found that they are from all over Middle Tennessee. Not many of our clients ride the bus, so we don't have to worry too much about bus lines.

In our current location, it doesn't seem that we are that easy to find, but people continue to find us. We decided to make the decision to sell because we are supposed to be good stewards of our assets and we put investment into this property. We helped the neighborhood when we moved here in 1998. But we've found that our services are so in demand all over Middle Tennessee, that we have many options for where we can go when we relocate. So our reasons for moving are different than most others’ reasons probably.

Q: How are you feeling about this big change?

A: It makes me wanna barf! We're trying to find a location that we can afford, while hoping that the projections we made from our data are sound. But our board has been involved in this decision at pretty much every level, and we have looked at it from every angle that we can, so we feel that we are making the right decision. It’s about being the best steward of our assets so that our services can continue and expand.

 

Steve Fleming, Executive Director of Bethlehem Centers of Nashville

Q: What have you noticed in your neighborhood?

A: I'm a longtime resident of the area - I grew up in the Bethlehem community. It's between Midtown and downtown so of course there is a lot of building going on - especially the north side near the Gulch. But with our clients, we are still able to serve in this area and people still use our services. However, with the changes we don't always know what new development will pop up next and we have to keep asking whether the long-term residents will be staying or not. And then if they are displaced, where will they be relocated?

For us right now, this is a good location and we plan to stay and continue offering our wrap-around community services. But we are paying attention.

Q: How is Bethlehem Centers addressing this issue with your clients?

A: We have met with people in community forums to give them a space to share their concerns about people with money coming in and overhauling the community. They often say that they feel strong-armed and that they feel disrespected when they don't have a voice in what's going on.

Looking ahead, we plan to hold more community forums, and we are also having these conversations with our board members. The first thing to do is to be in the know about what's going on and trying to plan, but with all the uncertainty that can be difficult.

Q: Looking on the city level, what gives you hope and what keeps you up at night?

A: I'm proud of the progress Nashville has made but in order to be successful, everyone must be included. It often seems that low-income people aren't included as a part of the "it city." I'm excited about the physical changes in Nashville because the new buildings do improve the overall look of an area, but I'm concerned about residents aren't always informed of the changes.

Visit www.cnm.org/ChangingNashvilleNeighborhoods for more information.

comments powered by Disqus