With the aim of putting the healing power of the human-animal bond to work, Lisa Stetar founded Crossroads Campus, a Germantown-based nonprofit that works to help neglected animals and homeless Nashvillians by nurturing a bond between the two and helping them to learn and heal from — and with — one another. Through her work, Lisa is able to enrich the lives of those with whom she works. Today, she gives us a closer look into the nonprofit, offers ways you can get involved, shares her favorite spots in Germantown and suggests a few good reads. It is with great joy that we welcome Lisa Stetar, Founding Director of Crossroads Campus as our newest FACE of Nashville.
Are you originally from Nashville?
Nashville is home. My family moved here before I started kindergarten, and I’ve been here for more than 50 years, so I consider myself a native Nashvillian — even though I wasn’t actually born here.
You are Founding Director for Crossroads Campus. Can you tell us a bit about both the nonprofit and your role there?
Crossroads is a nonprofit that puts the healing power of the human-animal bond to work to help people and animals in need. The idea grew out of conversations with Charles Strobel, a passionate advocate for homeless people, and Emmylou Harris, a passionate advocate for homeless animals. The concept is centered on helping people gain hope, healing and job skills through caring for homeless animals. That initial idea has evolved into an organization that serves young people who are facing homelessness, including youth aging out of foster care, and provides shelter and adoptions for homeless dogs and cats from Metro Animal Care and Control.
Most people know us through our Crossroads Pets — Shop & Adopt store in Germantown, which we opened in 2013. The store offers great pet foods, treats and supplies along with professional grooming and a dog self-wash, but it also provides job training and employment for young adults and a place for us to showcase our adoptable pets. All of the retail and grooming revenues go directly into supporting our nonprofit programs, so we call it making “a purchase with a purpose.” In addition to our store, we also operate a pilot-scale affordable housing program, which is located above the store, and a humane education outreach program called Caring Connections, which serves children of all ages, including teens in custody.
What are a few ways people can get involved in helping both young adults and homeless animals?
Mentoring, tutoring, helping with our humane education classes, dog walking and cat cuddling to name a few. As a starting point, we always invite people to come visit us at the Crossroads Pets store in Germantown so they can see our programs in action. That way, they can figure out which volunteer role is best for them.
You also worked as Expansion Project Manager for Room In The Inn from 2007 to 2011. Why is the issue of homelessness such an important one to you?
Homelessness first came to my attention in the 1980s when I started working downtown after graduating from college. Every day I would meet people who were homeless, and it was obvious they really needed help, but I had no idea how to go about helping. It bothered me to know that I would never leave a homeless animal on the street to fend for itself, but I was walking past vulnerable people every day and doing nothing.
Around that time I moved to Germantown and, as luck would have it, my new neighbor was Charles Strobel, the founder of Room In The Inn. I sought him out to learn how I could get involved, and that was the start of a lifelong friendship and my time as a volunteer for the Room In The Inn.
Fast forward to 2007, and Room In The Inn is embarking on a journey that would turn out to be a $13,000,000 expansion project that created a comprehensive center for the homeless. I offered to help facilitate some meetings to get the project rolling and somehow ended up being the project manager. That path led me away from 20 years of environmental consulting and eventually into my current role as the Founding Director of Crossroads.
What does a typical day in the life of Lisa Stetar look like?
When you’re working with vulnerable young people and homeless animals and running a pet store, there’s never a dull moment. No two days look alike, but there are definitely some common themes: lots of fires to put out, lots of meetings and lots of pet hair, but with all of that also comes lots of uplifting and inspiring moments that keep me going.
Crossroads Campus is located in the Germantown neighborhood. What are a few of your favorite go-to spots in Germantown?
Of course my top choice for a fun place to go in Germantown is our Crossroads Pets — Shop & Adopt store. It’s a happy, upbeat place with cute puppies and kittens and some amazing young people, so that’s hard to beat. When it comes to restaurants, there are too many great choices to list, but as a Germantown old timer, Monell’s and The Mad Platter will always have a special place in my heart. Like me, they came to Germantown before Germantown was cool.
Where can we find you hanging out around town?
Crossroads keeps me very busy, so these days when I’m not working, I really enjoy just being a homebody. I’ve recently moved to a house with five acres of woods, which is a big change after living in Germantown for 25+ years, so I’m very content to leave the hustle and bustle — not to mention the traffic — behind to hang out on the deck with friends and family.
What do you think distinguishes Nashville from other Southern cities?
I’m proud of our unique role as Music City and the role Nashville played during the Civil Rights movement, and I’ve always enjoyed the sense of community here. I hope that feeling is something we can hang on to through all of this incredible growth and transformation, but I’m worried because it’s becoming so expensive to live here and a lot of people are getting left behind and pushed out along the way.
What is the best piece of advice you have received and from whom?
Dream big and start small. I don’t honestly remember who instilled that thinking in me, but it’s been the key to Crossroads’ success and will guide our future growth.
Do you have any good book recommendations?
That’s tough because there are so many good books to choose from. I’ve just finished re-reading several of Richard Russo’s novels, Empire Falls, Straight Man, and my favorite, Nobody’s Fool, and they were just as good the second time around so I can definitely recommend them.
What are three things you can’t live without, excluding faith, family and friends?
My feline companions — although they really belong in the family and friends category — so excluding them, spending time in the woods, good books to read and good craft beer or good chocolate depending on the day.
Thank you, Lisa! And thanks to Ashley Hylbert for today’s photos.