by Kevin Ridder
Four University of Tennessee students are taking their group project beyond the classroom.
Reaching Out for Agape, an IndieGoGo campaign started by the students that aims to raise funds for Agape Outreach Homes, is part of a public writing class at UT where groups of students choose an organization, develop and take on a campaign themselves.
To the students, however, this is much more than a class project.
Agape Outreach Homes is a non-profit organization which simultaneously combats homelessness and mental illness by providing housing and care for men with severe, persistent mental illnesses. Founded in 1983, Agape is currently housing 24 men in three facilities in the Fountain City area of Knoxville. Many of their patients have successfully been transitioned into independent, functioning members of society.
“I will never forget some of the conversations I had with the guys there,” said team member Eric Pelehach, who served with his church at Agape two years ago. “They were such genuinely good people, and ever since that day I knew I wanted to come back. It’s crazy that a public writing class game me that chance.”
The organization relies largely on donations and volunteering to continue providing its services to the Knoxville community. The funds raised by the students’ campaign, which hopes to raise $1500 before April 28, will go toward purchasing 15 new twin-sized bed frames for the residents.
“My family still donates to Agape,” said Pelehach. “Knowing I’m not really contributing that, this feels like a great way for me to help.”
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