In the greatroom of the old cabin, under polished hand-hewn logs and a wrought-iron chandelier suspended from the crossbeam above, eighteen people stood in prayer in a tightly packed circle surrounding a young woman. Her head, like those around her, was bowed. Her eyes, like those around her, closed. But while her own hands were clasped, the hands of all those encircling her were extended, connecting each to the other as if they were no longer individuals, but had become one body. One body with one purpose—transmitting that connection and the love in their hearts to the heart of the young woman at their center.
Not the normal business as usual you’d expect to see when you walk into a used car lot office.
But most, if not all of the multitudes of people that’ve spent any time at all in Providence Auto Group’s two-story log cabin in Franklin, Tennessee will tell you that business as usual here most definitely isn’t. And each and every one of the eighteen souls under the roof of the greatroom that day would tell you that nothing that had happened that afternoon had been anywhere near normal for Destiny; the young woman in the center of that circle. A young woman whose name reflects the sense of purpose that has been the driving force behind the people behind this company since opening their doors just four short years ago. A purpose grounded in the simple act of giving. An act governed by a simple equation: that a portion of the proceeds from every automobile sold be set aside and used to provide struggling women and families with the keys to the wheels of a brand-new, nearly-new car.
Less than a year before she found herself in the center of that circle, Destiny found herself at a crossroads in her life. Not unusual; we all arrive there at one point or another. The difference in Destiny’s case? The wrong turn might very well have meant an end to her life. The choice was that stark, that immediate. That urgent. At the risk of leaning too heavily on analogy, it was destiny that placed her feet on the path that may very well have saved her life. The path that led her to the threshold and welcoming arms of the heroes-in-residence at Mercy Multiplied in Nashville — a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping young women break free from life-controlling behaviors and situations, including self-harm, drug and alcohol addictions, depression, sexual abuse, and sex trafficking.
“When young ladies walk out of the doors of Mercy upon graduating from the program…,” says Carrie Parsons, Transitional Care Manager for Mercy, “…our love for and attention to them does not stop there. Mercy continues to provide additional support, prayer, encouragement and resources for our Mercy girls through the Transitional Care Department. And one of our greatest joys is when we get to partner with others in helping to meet a very real need in their lives!”
Which was where Providence Auto Group entered the picture. An event long in the planning with scores of folks involved, that Friday afternoon on the hill by the cabin in Franklin found Destiny in the drivers’ seat of a nearly-new Toyota Camry – the 32nd car given away by this visionary team of car people on a mission.
“The thing is,” said Operations Director Tee Smith, “for the entire team that works for this business, Providence Auto Group is much more than just a used car company. It’s a vehicle to change people’s lives. Literally. But the larger truth is, each of those presentations, each of those thirty-two Gives, changed each of our lives as well… reminding us not only of the power of giving, and the responsibility we have to share the blessings in our own lives, but the awesome opportunity we have at PAG to give struggling, deserving folks a lift.”
There was a silence in the cabin as owner Simon Lawrence paused, delivering the prayer in the greatroom that afternoon. He was talking about the journey that each of us take in our lives, the crossroads that we all come to and the choices we must make.
He was talking about faith and the road that leads to our destiny.