“Every person not on the street tonight is a person not on the street tonight."
Roman Presley Laws-Milburn says he was raised to be a good Samaritan. "My family taught me to treat everyone as if they were Christ," Roman told WZTV. And that’s not hyperbole.
Laws-Milburn and his spouse have been hosting homeless individuals in their West Nashville home for nearly three months. They cook dinner for the person, buy him or her an outfit at the local Goodwill, offer a hot shower, then treat their guest to a movie in their family room. After a good night’s sleep, Laws-Milburn gives them $20 and some hygiene items, then drives them wherever they want to go.
Laws-Milburn told WZTV that he became inspired to do this kind of work while he was sitting at a stoplight. "I was at a red light and gave someone $5 and rolled up the window," he recalled. "As I sat there I realized I could do so much more than this. Handing someone money and driving off is the easy way out and just makes you feel better about yourself."
Instead of driving away that day, he treated the person to lunch at a nearby Cracker Barrel. He then invited them back to his house for a shower. "It's a fine line because you want to do something good for them and offer but I try to maintain their dignity," he noted.
He’s not afraid to admit that he wasn’t always comfortable inviting strangers into his home. But he told WZTV that those hesitancies have passed. "After a few times you realize these are not bad people, they are just down on their luck,” he said. “They could be me."
The couple tries to host at least two or three times each month. Inviting neighbors and friends over makes the whole experience more inclusive.
The last thing Laws-Milburn wants out of all of this is recognition. In fact, when the local news came knocking, he didn’t even want to be identified in the story. He told WZTV that that’s not the point.
"A lot of people feel like their efforts in going to church is enough. It makes them lazy in social ethics,” he told the station. “You would think in one of the reddest states people would be more welcoming, but the people we host tell us people don't care.”
Laws-Milburn said he wants other people to go out and try to impact the homeless community as well. "I hope other people pick up on the message and apply their own message. Everyone has a kitchen and a bathroom,” he said. “Every person not on the street tonight is a person not on the street tonight."