Knoxville Mercury’s Giving Guide to Area Nonprofits

In Cover Stories, Guides by Hayley Brundigeleave a COMMENT

Here are 12 Knoxville-based and regional charities that are helping East Tennesseans live better lives in specific ways. And you can help them! Find out about their missions and learn what sort of assistance they need to get these important jobs done.

Bridge Refugee Services

Mission: Bridge Refugee Services, an ecumenical organization that was founded in 1982, works to facilitate the resettlement of refugees in East Tennessee and alleviate some of the specific hardships they face. Through support services and programs, Bridge aims to empower refugees to become self-sufficient, taking them “from despair to dignity.”

Services/Programs: Case management, Employment assistance, English language training services for refugees.

How to Help: Donate household items (mattresses, couches, kitchen items, etc.). Sponsor a refugee or refugee family: groups of 5-15 volunteers commit to assisting a refugee family for (at least) their first three months in Knoxville. Sponsors welcome refugees at the airport, help them get established with things like applying for social security cards, getting to medical appointments, etc.

How to Give: Email Katie Weber for a full list of items needed or to schedule a time for case managers to pick up donated items:

Total 2014 Functional Expenses: $1,110,470

Top 2014 Spending Categories:

Grants and other assistance to domestic individuals: $388,606

Other salaries and wages: $456,222

Contact: 3839 Buffat Mill Rd., Knoxville, TN 37914 , 865-540-1311, ,

Centro Hispano de East Tennessee

Mission: The Centro Hispano is a grassroots organization and community center that works to empower the Hispanic community in East Tennessee. They partner with organizations like the Helen Ross McNabb Center and HoLa Hora Latina to promote civic participation through education and social services and give people a “second home and a second chance” in East Tennessee.

Services/Programs: Classes in general education development, language literacy, financial education; a legal advice clinic; wellness group meetings to provide women with the tools for personal development and well-being; a hotline (865-522-0052) that connects Hispanic families to important information and services in the community; a child development program.

How to Help: Volunteer to help with educational programs, tutoring, office work, childcare services, and more (call or email them to learn more). Intern with Centro Hispano. UT students (in Spanish 494 or Spanish 490) can intern and receive credit for their work. Donate supplies to support their programs and services.

How to Give: Donate on their website or mail donations to Centro Hispano de East Tennessee, P.O. Box 10041, Knoxville, TN 37939.

Total 2014 Functional Expenses: $63,532

Top 2014 Spending Categories:

Salaries/wages: $50,072

Occupancy: $2,748

Telephone: $2,364

Contact: 2455 Sutherland Ave. , Knoxville, TN 37919, 865-522-0052, ,

Change Center

Mission: When the Change Center opens in the fall of 2017, it will provide a safe space for young people to go for entertainment, community, and mentorship in their own neighborhood. The idea for this center sprang from Mayor Rogero’s Save Our Sons Initiative, which looks at how Knoxville can reduce violence-related deaths for boys and young men of color, and its cause was proven vital by the tragic death of 15-year-old Zaevion Dobson last year. With a climbing wall, video games, a roller skating rink, and more, the center will definitely be a place for fun. But the Change Center also aims to help teens and young adults build relationships in their community and gain skills through job training.

Services/Programs: A safe space for young people to go after school/in the evening. Community activities for relationship building, like family skate nights and sporting events. The Change Center Jobs Initiative will provide job training, entry level positions at the center, job creation through entrepreneurship, and connections to employers throughout Knoxville

How to Help: Learn more at

How to Give: Donate at their GoFundMe page:

Spending: N/A

Contact: 203 Harriet Tubman St., Knoxville, TN 37915, 865-951-1567,

Dream Connection

Mission: Sometimes being able to fulfill a long-harbored dream can profoundly impact someone’s life. Since 1985, The Dream Connection has been working to make these once-in-a-lifetime dreams a reality for children age 3 to 18 with life-threatening or chronically debilitating illnesses in East Tennessee. All charitable donations to Dream Connection go toward making these dreams—from taking a trip to Disney World to stealing the spotlight on The Price is Right—come true for kids with leukemia, cerebral palsy, or other illnesses.

Services/Programs: They fulfill about 30 to 40 kids’ dreams per year on average

How to Help: Help with fundraisers, meet with kids/families, develop marketing, design Web pages, create videos, and more.

How to Give: Donate through their online donation page at

Total 2014 Functional Expenses: $133,425

Top 2014 Spending Categories:

Other expenses: $130,396

“Dream costs”: $123,950

Supplies: $6,446

Professional fees and other payments to independent contractors: $3,029

Contact: P.O. Box 10924 , Knoxville, TN 37939 , 865-971-2447,

Friends of Tennessee’s Babies with Special Needs

Mission: This organization creates a network of support for the families and early intervention professionals that serve infants and young children with disabilities. Whether through lending necessary hearing aids or providing support in the case of an emergency, Friends of Tennessee’s Babies with Special Needs aims to foster a community of care and compassion for children with special needs.

Services/Programs: Respite care—giving families of children with special needs a break by helping with the cost of professional respite care and offering day camps. Emergency support for families. Support groups, workshops, lending libraries, loaner hearing aids.

How to Help: Provide necessities for families like loaner hearing aids, adaptive equipment, and toys. Help with respite care, professional support, and family-based events to provide relief and entertainment for children and their families.

How to Give: Credit card payments through their website, or send to their P.O. box.

Total 2014 Functional Expenses: $131,026

Top 2014 Spending Categories:

Family support services: $53,805

Salaries and wages: $48,808

Contact: P.O. Box 544, Alcoa, TN 37701-0544, 865-984-4326,,

InterFaith Health Clinic

Mission: The InterFaith Health Clinic provides everything from primary care to mental health counseling—but it isn’t a free clinic. They serve low-income individuals, the working uninsured, and other underserved populations in Knoxville, but they stress the importance of patients making even a small investment in their own healthcare. The nonprofit offers quality, affordable healthcare on a sliding-fee scale and is supported by a small staff of paid professionals—nurses, doctors, and dentists—as well as many volunteers.

Services/Programs: Primary care, dental care, mental health counseling, affordable medications.

How to Help: What they need most is clinical volunteers, such as physicians, dentists, nurses, dental hygienists, specialists, etc. They occasionally need non-clinical volunteers for things like painting, yard work, and clerical duties. To volunteer, contact the appropriate volunteer coordinator from this list at

How to Give: Donate to help provide medical services. Each $40 donation provides for one patient visit to the clinic. Sponsor a “Day of Care” at the clinic (overall clinic: $2,000; medical clinic: $1,000; dental clinic: $750; mental health clinic: $250). Donate via credit card/cash/check on their website.

Total 2013 Functional Expenses: $2,636,844

Top 2013 Spending Categories:

Compensation (for employees): $1,346,621

Contributed supplies: $807,467

Office expenses: $139,586

Contact: 315 Gill Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917, 865-546-7330,

Joy of Music School

Mission: Exposing young people to music can change their lives tremendously. At the Joy of Music School, they aim to do just that. The school works to provide free music lessons and instruments to financially disadvantaged, at-risk children and teens. Started in 1998, the nonprofit believes that music can broaden horizons and help young people thrive.

Services/Programs: Free music lessons and instruments for underprivileged children.

How to Help: Volunteer to be a music teacher (apply on their website).

How to Give: Donate via PayPal or credit card on their website.

Total 2014 Functional Expenses: $398,665

Top 2014 Spending Categories:

Salaries/wages: $110,628

Occupancy: $31,341

Outreach music teacher: $31,009

Contact: 1209 Euclid Ave., Knoxville, TN 37921, 865-525-6806,

Knoxville Center for the Deaf

Mission: The Knoxville Center for the Deaf is dedicated to improving the quality of life for Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and Hard-of-Hearing people in the region. Founded in 1977, the private, member-owned nonprofit provides a variety of services to 20 counties in Middle and East Tennessee, including sign language interpreting and workshops.

Services/Programs: Sign Language interpreting. EmerCorps Program (after-hours interpreting for emergencies, 5 p.m.-8 a.m. and weekends). SSP (Support Service Person) Voucher Program, which helps assist volunteers who help Deaf-Blind community members with transportation to/from medical appointments, grocery shopping, and other necessary errands. Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) Program. ASL classes. Interpreter training workshops.

How to Help: Request an interpreter/support their interpreting services. Volunteer at one of their fundraising events (like their Golfing with the Deaf Tournament or annual yard sale). Visit their website for how to get involved with this. Spread awareness of their programs with friends and on social media

How to Give: Donate on their website via PayPal or with a credit/debit card.

Total 2014 Functional Expenses: $790,425

Top 2014 Spending Categories:

Compensation: $301,921

Fees for services (other): $140,503

Other employee benefits: $52,632

Travel: $50,274

Contact: 3731 Martin Mill Pike, Knoxville, TN 37920, 865-579-0832 (voice), 865-978-6051 Video,,

Pantry for Feeding Pets

Mission: The Pantry for Feeding Pets has been soliciting pet food donations and distributing them to dog and cat owners since March 2009. Their goal is simple: help pet owners—especially those in economic need, shut-ins, and formerly homeless veterans—take better care of their pets while retaining the chance to have companionship. In 2015, the organization was able to distribute over 30,000 pet food family portions.

Services/Programs: Distributing pet food donations to needy pet owners

How to Help: Help with re-bagging and distributing pet food at their location at Fish Hospitality Pantries (122 West Scott Ave.) on Thursdays from 9:45 a.m. until the pet food supply is exhausted. Contact Ted Hembree (865-805-1111) or Lisa Cope (865-806-0978) to volunteer.

How to Give: Donating $10 can provide six bags of food for animals for two-three days. Or donate pet food—many businesses/orgs around Knoxville have blue collection barrels near their front doors for pet food donations, like the Concord Veterinary Hospital and Pet Supplies Plus. Donate with a credit card or PayPal on their website.

Total 2014 Functional Expenses: $2,714

Top 2014 Spending Categories:

  Other expenses: $2,459

  Printing, publications, postage, and shipping: $255

Contact: 11904 Kingston Pike, Farragut, TN 37934, 865-805-1111,,

Rural Resources

Mission: The folks at Rural Resources know that where and how we get our food matters. And they work to foster a thriving, healthy community in East Tennessee by providing a network of resources and educational programs focused on connecting food, families, and farms. Their aim is to build a vibrant local food economy through learning experiences on preserving farmland and natural resources, like the “farm and food teen training program,” and local efforts to address food insecurity.

Services/Programs: Rural resources farm: a year-round classroom and training center. Farm & food teen training program: teens grow and cook food and learn about beginning farm and food-related businesses. Food security task force: organizations, agencies, churches, farmers, businesses, school systems, etc. meet and work together to address food insecurity

How to Help: Volunteer to garden, help in the office, train teens, feed the farm animals and more by contacting the volunteer coordinator,

How to Give: Become a member (with a one-time donation starting at $10) or a sustainer (register for their billing service for monthly payments of anywhere from $10 to $500). Donate to ensure that animals have feed every month, the site is ready for field trips/trainings, and upkeep on the market garden. You can also donate to the Sowing Seeds campaign to support events, scholarships, and programs; the building of a new outdoor pavilion/classroom; or a new farm and food training facility. Pay with a credit card online or call their office to donate.

Total 2014 Functional Expenses: $262,241

Top 2014 Spending Categories:

Fees for services (other): $108,016

Materials and supplies: $54,674

Salaries/wages: $41,650

Farm site lease: $25,294

Contact: 2870 Holley Creek Rd., Greeneville, TN 37745, 423-636-8171,,

SEEED Knoxville

Mission: SEEED has a dual purpose: to create and sustain jobs for urban youth in Knoxville and ensure that low-income residents have access to clean energy technologies. This community development nonprofit seeks to make Knoxville a greener, more sustainable city and to create sustainable careers for its residents.

Services/Programs: Career Readiness Program: this program serves young people ages 16-28, providing them with training on resume writing, goal setting, cover letters, job applications, and other life and job skills. Home energy workshops in low-income communities. Community garden with fruit trees and plants and six raised garden beds.

How to Help: Volunteer in a variety of positions: instructors for the career readiness program; canvassing team leaders; community gardening; cleaning and maintenance of the community center; administrative help.

How to Give: At their website via credit card or PayPal.

Total 2014 Functional Expenses: $46,765.04

Contact: 1617 Dandridge Ave., Knoxville, TN 37915, 865-766-5185,,

Sunshine Ambassadors

Mission: This nonprofit aims to enrich the lives of people with disabilities through dance. And for the Sunshine Ambassadors, dance isn’t about perfection. Rather, it’s about each individual making their own kind of progress. With dance classes in several locations across East Tennessee and dancers aged 3 to 92, Sunshine Ambassadors provides a unique way to make an impact on individuals living with disabilities.

Services/Programs: Dance classes, public dance performances

How to Help: Start a dance class in your area. Invite them to dance and/or speak at your event/civic function. Sponsor a dance student, event, or class: $40 per month for a student; $500-$700 per year to hold a class in a public school or group home; $150-$300 for a performance or event; $50 to purchase real dance shoes for a student.

How to Give: Send a check to their P.O. box. Pay online with credit card or PayPal.

Total 2010 Functional Expenses: $5,243

Top 2010 Spending Categories:

Professional fees and other payments to independent contractors: $3,472

Other expenses: $1,426

Insurance: $400

Supplies: $330

Contact: P.O. Box 18094, Knoxville, TN 37928, 865-621-8273,,

Sources: The nonprofits’ individual websites, and the National Center for Charitable Statistics.

Hayley Brundige is a writer and forever-intern studying Journalism and Public Policy at UT. Her work has been featured in Scalawag Magazine and Inverse. She might use you to get closer to your dog.

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