Homeless Outreach Event in Cleveland, Tennessee
This month, I represented Goodwill in a multi-agency coalition with three other non-profit organizations in Cleveland / Bradley County: Family Worship Center Church, the New Life Community Kitchen, and Franklin Academy.
Students at Franklin Academy, a cosmetology school, wanted to do something special for the homeless, and were responsible for finding all the necessary resources. Volunteers contacted numerous social service groups for assistance, and I was there to answer the call for help made to Chattanooga Goodwill! Goodwill was able to donate about 1,200 pounds of clothing to the cause. I had a blast the Wednesday night I spent with the Family Worship Center youth group preparing for the event. Thanks to the energetic efforts of the youth, led by Cori Curtis and Brittany Haddock (also Franklin Academy students), we were able to sort the enormous mountain of clothing donated by Goodwill in about two hours’ time.
Behind the scenes, Brittany and her husband Joshua were coordinating with Karen Cross of the New Life Community Kitchen to spread the word and ensure that everyone who wanted to attend would have transportation. Franklin Academy students also found unwanted items in their wardrobes to donate, prepared hygiene bags with items donated from local businesses and dentists, and filled their crock pots with delicious homemade soup to be served to the hungry. With so many caring hands contributing to the cause, it was obvious this was going to be EPIC!
The event took place at Franklin Academy on December 18th, 2017. Joshua was bringing over 13-passenger-van loads full of people from the Community Kitchen, one after another. Each time the van arrived at the salon, passengers were greeted with friendly smiles and offered a free haircut, shampoo, style, and/or shave performed by the cosmetology students and instructors. The break room was also decorated for Christmas and set up with rows of tables and chairs where individuals struggling with homelessness and poverty were able to enjoy a hot meal on a cold and dreary day. In another room, massage tables covered with festive tablecloths, then piled high with blankets, coats, hats, gloves, and clothing for those in need, and the youth group was on the scene to help them “shop.” I was there too of course and provided Goodwill vouchers to 28 participants who were unable to find the size they needed in the remote clothing closet that had been set up. Volunteers served more than 75 members of the local homeless community at this incredible event, and nobody walked out without a smile.
At the end, when everyone in-need had gone, I took a moment to reflect with those involved. Karen Cross commented that the Community Kitchen had been low on items and couldn’t have provided everything needed for this event without wiping out their supply of clothing for the winter. Goodwill’s help was instrumental, and “God’s timing was perfect,” she added. Karl Petersen, President of the Board for Franklin Academy, was present for the event and afterward told students, “I’ve visited schools with 500 students who haven’t been able to accomplish as much as the 35 of you have today. Well done to those of you who reached out to your community and found the resources needed to make this a success.”
Truly, a handful of determined folks working together achieve greater things than an army of individuals trying to move a mountain without help from their comrades. When there are so many in need, and so much at stake, I am thankful that our donors have entrusted Goodwill with the resources required to provide for individuals with disabilities or other disadvantages, including homelessness. During this holiday season, I am overwhelmed by a special joy that is the inevitable offspring of generously giving to others, and I am honored to have served alongside everyone involved in this effort!
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Sarah Hindmon is the Business Development and E-Commerce Manager for Chattanooga Goodwill Industries. She started with Goodwill in January 2012. Sarah is a University of Tennessee Alum with BS in Family Studies and a Minor in Social Work.
“My favorite thing about working with Goodwill is my staff — they are super hard-working and committed to the mission of Goodwill. and I’m honored to lead them.”