Room In The Inn founder Charles Strobel receives 2018 Joe Kraft Humanitarian Award

Last updated on December 7th, 2018 at 05:11 pm

Charles Strobel and Emmy Lou Harris at Luncheon.

A crowd of about 750 filled the Music City Center’s Davidson Ballroom Friday at a luncheon to honor Room In The Inn founder Charles Strobel as he received the Joe Kraft Humanitarian Award.

“I promise you, you can make a difference. You can have the power of one,” said Strobel in accepting the 25th annual award, presented by The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

Strobel, a native Nashvillian and revered member of the Catholic community, has dedicated his life to offering hospitality and hope to the city’s homeless population and is founding director of Room In The Inn.

Since 1986 the nonprofit organization has provided shelter for nearly 1,500 homeless individuals each winter through the combined effort of what are now nearly 200 Nashville-area congregations and more than 7,000 volunteers.

Speakers during the luncheon program included attorney Aubrey Harwell, Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall, Sony Music Nashville Chairman and CEO Randy Goodman, and Country Music Hall of Famers Emmylou Harris and Don Schlitz. Harris and Schlitz each performed songs inspired by Strobel as well as the challenges of homelessness and the dignity of the homeless.

Thistle Farms founder Becca Stevens and former Nashville and Tennessee first lady Andrea Conte were among those offering video tributes.

In 1995 Room In The Inn opened its downtown campus, which offers emergency services, transitional programs, and long-term solutions to help people rebuild their lives. The concept has become a model for programs in more than 30 other cities, from Calgary, Canada, to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Joe Kraft and the Joe Kraft Humanitarian Award Fund

Established in 1993, the Joe Kraft Humanitarian Award recognizes community leaders who embody the strength of character and unwavering integrity of the late Joe Kraft. Past honorees include Amy Grant and Vince Gill, John Seigenthaler, Francis S. Guess, Clayton McWhorter, Aubrey Harwell, Jayme and McDonald Williams, Monroe J. Carell, Jr., Pauline Gore, Martha Ingram, Karl Dean, Jim Haslam II, Steve and Cal Turner Jr., Phil Bredesen and Andrea Conte, Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley, Jack B. Turner, and Jerry B. Williams, among others.

Kraft, whose parents were Russian immigrants, was a Davidson County native and graduate of Vanderbilt University. Prior to receiving his degree, Kraft put his athletic scholarship on hold to enlist in the Army Air Corps after the attack on Pearl Harbor. During the war, Kraft flew 31 missions over Italy, Germany and Czechoslovakia as a navigator on a B-17 bomber. He graduated from Vanderbilt in 1948, and received a law degree from what is now Nashville School of Law in 1958. Kraft then founded one of Nashville’s largest certified public accounting firms, Kraft Bros., Esstman, Patton & Harrell. The firm, now called Kraft CPAs, celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2018.