Knoxville organizations helping homeless children

Knoxville organizations helping homeless children

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For many nights, a rocking chair was a source of comfort for Holly Cook and her daughter Trinity while living at First Presbyterian Church. For many nights, a rocking chair was a source of comfort for Holly Cook and her daughter Trinity while living at First Presbyterian Church.
"Each family is different and not all of us are the ones you see on the streets," said Holly Cook. "Each family is different and not all of us are the ones you see on the streets," said Holly Cook.

By LAURA HALM
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The face of homelessness is changing, as that population is getting younger. In fact, here's a statistic that may surprise you: one out of every four homeless person is a child according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Here in East Tennessee, more than 800 children received help from homeless services in Knoxville-Knox County according to a recent homelessness study. Salvation Army of Knoxville's Joy D. Baker Center housed 98 children last year, while Knox Area Rescue Ministries provided emergency shelter for 122 children.

6 News spoke with a young mother and child who don't fit the stereotype of homelessness, but were able to get the help they need.

For many nights, a rocking chair was a source of comfort for Holly Cook and her daughter Trinity while living at First Presbyterian Church.

"I would come out here and pull it into the room at night, and we'd sit there and I'd give her her bottle, and we'd just sit there and rock until she finally fell asleep. Sometimes I would still just sit there and hold her because it was just one of those calming moments," she said.

At just 8-months-old, Trinity was homeless. Her mother was down-and-out because of health issues and joblessness.

Holly and Trinity weren't staying on the streets. Instead they received help from Family Promise of Knoxville. Each week they packed what they owned and moved to area churches like Central Baptist Church of Bearden or the Episcopal Church of the Ascension, sleeping in rooms in the basement.

"They're at that age that they're wanting stability and it was hard not being able to give that to her," said Cook.

Trinity is just one of many though. According to the 2011-2012 homelessness study, 12 percent of the homeless population in Knoxville-Knox County were children, 8 percent of them 10-years-old or younger.

"Each family is different and not all of us are the ones you see on the streets," said Cook.

Family Promise of Knoxville has helped more than 300 children since 2005. They'll be able to help even more families after buying West View United Methodist Church, which they're turning into a day center. This will allow them to help twice as many families, or about eight families in total.

This organization is on a mission to help children and their families achieve independence and permanent housing. It does this by providing incentive money through grants after families take part in life skills classes.

"Once they've earned those funds that money in turn is used to help them pay deposits for KUB and to pay their initial rent," said Executive Director at Family Promise of Knoxville Mary LeMense.

The organization then follows families for the next two years making sure that home stays theirs.

The Cooks finally got a home of their own in August 2013, which meant a real address and a crib for Trinity.

"It made me feel like I was succeeding finally," said Cook.

Months later, sitting in that same rocking chair, memories seem to be rushing back.

"It's sweet. It's kind of bittersweet because it reminds me of everything we went through and where we're at now," said Cook.

If you would like to help, many of these organizations are looking for volunteers or donations like clothing, furniture and household items. Family Promise is also in need of new host churches or support congregations which will help in caring for families in the program.

Contact information:

  • Salvation Army of Knoxville
    (865) 525-9401
    409 N. Broadway
    Knoxville, TN 37917
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