Neighbors who have experienced homelessness share their life-changing stories.

Your support is making a life-changing difference for people in one of the most challenging moments in their lives.

Woman reaching out showing support

it made all the difference

A man, his wife, and thirteen-year old daughter needed help with a couple of night stays a hotel. They were experiencing homelessness due to medical bills (and were linked to a case manager). The outreach staff member went to pay for a couple of nights at a local motel. There was a young man in the office. He said he had just gotten his stimulus check and wanted to pay the balance for the week. She thanked him and asked him why. He said he had the extra money. After talking to him for a little while, she found he had experienced being homeless once and someone had paid for him to have three weeks at a hotel. He said it made all the difference.

what can change your life?

Portrait,Of,Middle,Aged,Bearded,Truck,Driver,Standing,By,The

For two neighbors, a man and his wife who had been living in their car, it was a Commercial Driver License. A job was waiting for him as a truck driver if he had a CDL. When APTS shared funds for the license he said, “Thank you for changing my life.”

living in a women's shelter in blount county because       i suddenly found myself without a place to stay

Do you know what I did today? I’m living at a women’s shelter in Blount County because I suddenly found myself without a place to live. The folks there are very supportive and have shared lots of resources. I can even look for a higher paying job with benefits while working at my current job! But, back to what I did today. Today a group of us made our monthly trip to Knoxville where we reach out to some of the folks experiencing homelessness there. We even took some packets of things like socks that were donated. It was great to be able to give back and meet others who are going through some of the same things I am.

2020…. who can ever forget it??

Certainly not Josh, who was already struggling, living in his pickup. COVID 19 meant an interruption to the resources Josh needed to charge his phone, or access free WiFi, take a shower at a local church or grab a cup of coffee and use the restroom at McDonald's.

And expectant parents Sam and Sara, can never forget the “Stay Home, Save Lives” mantra.  How could they follow the rules when, suddenly, there was no home… evicted when jobs were lost.

During this pandemic, something beautiful was born…A Place to Stay (APTS), a 501(c)3 non-profit whose mission is to facilitate local efforts to end homelessness by bringing together faith groups, businesses, government agencies and other non-profits. APTS is in the process of creating a program that will benefit Josh, Sam and Sara and others in our community who are facing homelessness. Your support will enable us to establish a Community Services office at the Blount County Public Library this winter to provide assessment, referrals, and resources for neighbors dealing with economic hardship in the face of impending threats of eviction, economic hardship and hunger.

Story from the Warming Shelter

Four days before Christmas, it became evident that the temperatures were going to be below 25 for Christmas and the warming shelter needed to open.  Phil Hoffman got in touch with FBC Maryville and they were willing to open their facility for the three coldest nights, Dec 24, 25 and 26.  Since the daytime temps for Christmas Day were not going to get above that level, they also agreed to let the shelter stay open all day Christmas.  Phil started contacting volunteers and people began to sign up and eventually he got enough folks to provide meals and have two volunteers on site at all times.

The folks from Our Lady of Fatima provided a ham supper for Christmas Eve.  We had 10 guests and they were incredibly hungry.  I was surprised at the large helpings and seconds they came for, didn’t think our stomachs were built to hold that much!  They were so grateful to have warm, home-cooked meals and a warm, safe place to stay for Christmas.

Two pieces of homemade apple pie survived til breakfast Christmas morning and the first two guys up got those.  They were so excited!  Monte Vista provided homemade breakfast casserole as well as taco soup for lunch on Christmas day.  A couple of guys asked if I had made the casseroles (HAH!!) I said no, they were done by two ladies who cared about them and wanted to do this for their Christmas, one guy replied, “You tell them we love them too!”.  Thanks to donations from “The Promise” program of New Harvest Church and from Monte Vista, everyone received a wrapped gift and goody bag for Christmas.    Everyone got a hoodie for Christmas morning and there were goody bags filled with socks and treats that were handed out Christmas afternoon.   Any leftover gifts were distributed to folks out in the community by the street outreach team from New Harvest.

The shelter stayed open all day Christmas, a special gift since there were almost no places open where they could go in and warm up.  They hung out and did laundry, another gift they were so grateful for.  Volunteers came and went, visited, brought snacks, drinks, pizza and treats that they enjoyed all day, even for midnight snacks.  The shelter closed down for the day on Saturday but opened back up for overnight and the temps came back up on Sunday.

It was a community-wide effort with very little notice at a truly difficult time of year but Blount County people of faith stepped up and served as the presence of Christ in a wonderful way.

My story

God, the great change artist!  The Holy Spirit inspired choice to attend my first meeting on homelessness in Blount Co. 4 years ago.

I lived in Knoxville for 18 years before moving to Maryville.  At the time of our move I was still averaging 50 hours/week at work; my kids grown and gone; my neighborhood not one where everyone gets to know everyone So at the time of my retirement 5 years ago, I did not have a lot of Blount Co connections.

After a year of volunteering for anything and everything, I heard about a community forum focusing on what was and was not being done in Blount Co to address homelessness.  The goal was 3 threefold I think:  to make folks aware that it wasn’t true ‘nothing is being done’, but it was true not enough was being done.  And last to inspire a grassroots effort by community members to unearth new resources, new ideas and compassionate people to help lead the way.

Although I had donated money to KARM for a long time, I had never given a lot of thought to homelessness, but was heartened to see how many folks attended and listened carefully to speakers who are on the frontlines.  A second meeting was scheduled to break down the various facets of homelessness and meet others who wanted to focus on the area to which I was drawn.  If you had asked me then would I be willing to spend the next 4 years learning about how many different types of homeless there are; researching, discussing and rejecting lots of ideas to provide transitional housing for the situationally homeless, I would have said NOPE. I want to spend my time with the grandkids!

And yet here I still am.  God had a plan for me that I had never imagined and he has blessed me with the grace to hang in there even when it seemed like this was too much of a mountain for me!

A place to stay in the news

Tackling Blount's homelessness:

New nonprofit sets up at library -By Melanie Tucker melt@thedailytimes.com Dec 24, 2020

Homeless count spikes:

Totaling all of those without homes remains virtually impossible -By Melanie Tucker melt@thedailytimes.com Jan 28, 2021

Americorps Community Cares Newsletter

"Another new service site we are extending a great big AmeriWelcome to is, A Place to Stay in Blount County, TN. A single excerpt from their websites explains why “A Place to Stay” is necessary to the community."
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