A shared concern brought them together. A commitment to their loved ones drove them to action. A mutual vision of creating a real and meaningful community for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in Nashville brought Friends Life Community to fruition.


Founding parents, Cindy and Jack Herndon, Debbie and Karl Hamilton, Rhonda and Russ Phillippi, and Jennie Scott, and community advocate, Suzanne Williams knew that if they wanted support and opportunities for their loved ones after high school, they would have to create it. Without it, the alternative would be isolation and lack of purpose. Their dream was that their loved ones and other adults with IDD would have a place where they would be supported in fulfilling their God-given potential as part of a larger community.


In a letter from 2009, written by then-Board President, Jack Herndon, their audacious vision to create a community like no other was clearly outlined:


“Our reward will be seeing Friends Life explode into an extraordinary place where our friends are able to fulfill their God-given potential, build lifelong friendships, explore, enjoy, and contribute to our community, and experience the ordinary miracles of everyday life together.”

Image of a typed letter

Now, 15 years later, we are proud that the founding principles are true today. Since our founding, we have evolved from the original four Friends and eight family members to impacting 240 total individuals in 2022. What began as an afternoon program at Hillsboro Presbyterian Church is now an immersive Weekday Program serving over 65 individuals at our main campus on Granny White Pike and throughout Nashville at over 15 community partners and program locations.


Though the details of how, what, and when have shifted and evolved, our priorities and purpose have stayed the same. Evidence of the Friends living out their God-given potential, enjoying life with each other and the greater Nashville community, and breaking down barriers to inclusion for ALL people is seen throughout our programs and in testimonies from the Friends and their families.


We are honored to be part of the vision set forth by the Founders and we continue to walk alongside the Friends and their families in community and fellowship.

We invite you to join us in celebrating these 15 years of accomplishments and help us further the Founders’ vision and mission for the next 15. Keep an eye out for some fun happenings in 2023!