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BRENTWOOD FACES: Susan Thornton


BRENTWOOD FACES:  Susan Thornton

The Manger wouldn’t be the same without her
By WENDY HOSSE

For Brentwood Home Page
When Brentwood Home Page decided to create Brentwood Faces — mini-profiles of people all Brentwood residents should know — Susan Thornton came immediately to mind. She’s among the most admired people with one of the most giving spirits in our city. And at this time of year, she’s an angel to many in need of Christmas. The Manger wouldn’t be the same without her

By WENDY HOSSE
For Brentwood Home Page
When Brentwood Home Page decided to create Brentwood Faces — mini-profiles of people all Brentwood residents should know — Susan Thornton came immediately to mind. She’s among the most admired people with one of the most giving spirits in our city. And at this time of year, she’s an angel to many in need of Christmas.

Susan’s family moved to Brentwood in 1972.  Although her Brentwood roots are deep, Susan attended The Harpeth

Susan Thornton at the Manger.

Hall School in Nashville where she was a standout track and volleyball star.  She went on to run track for the University of Tennessee and was a member of the first class of Lady Vols, formed one year before Title 9 was passed.  Thornton remains very active with her alma maters, serving as the Alumnus Emeritus Coach for the Harpeth Hall track team and is a constant in the stands for any athletic event she has time for. 

Currently Susan is the CEO of her own construction company, First Construction Corporation.  Among the various projects her company has headed up, including serving as the onsite owners project manager, was the Hill Center in Green Hills.  But her company also fixes anything and everything for homes needing repairs through Graceworks ministries. 

Many Brentwood residents have spent a night or two in the chalet-style log cabin home Susan built herself with the idea of sharing it with groups needing a place to retreat.  She has since had many Brentwood Girl Scout troops, church groups, City of Brentwood leaders, college kids passing through, and even Hurricane Katrina survivors stay in her home. 

Many Brentwood residents recognize Susan from the Brentwood United Methodist Church where she carries the crucifier at most 11 a.m. services then takes her spot with the Chancel Choir.  But anyone who has done some volunteer work in Williamson County knows her as the face and one of the founders of Graceworks Ministries and The Manger. The Manger is a store of donated  items from bikes, dolls, CD’s, clothes, food and more housed in a warehouse-type location for one week in December. Williamson County residence who qualify through the help of Graceworks Ministries shop for their children’s Christmas presents and pay only $1 per item. 

The premise of the Manger is to provide dignity for those in need. "Christmas shouldn’t hurt," Thornton says.  "There is dignity and responsibility for these parents when they shop.  They pick the presents their children would want, not like a generic hand out where the parent is completely left out of the process." 

Susan Thornton being interviewed about The Manger.

Every year The Manger starts with a $0 balance and depends on donations to stock the store.  Susan buys the merchandise, organizes the volunteers, looks for donations, and makes sure every person who shops at The Manger is treated the same as those shopping at Neiman Marcus.

Another little venture Susan spearheads is  "Keep the Home Fires Burning."  She has set up a drop-off site in the field between the Otter Creek Church of Christ and the Brentwood United Methodist Church where people can drop off firewood. Then Susan or any volunteer — no need to ask — takes the wood to Tent City in downtown Nashville for the homeless to burn for warmth.  Susan has been spotted many times at the midnight hour loading up wood.  

When I asked Susan what made Brentwood special to her, she did not skip a beat. "People in Brentwood do the right thing. They just step up and do whatever it takes when the community is in need."  If you would like to help Susan, or would like more information on The Manger or Graceworks Ministry follow this link http://www.graceworks.net or call 794-9055.

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