KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Catholic Charities of East Tennessee is building up from the ashes as it debuts its new building. In November 2021, the organization’s center on Dameron Avenue went up in flames.
“The Catholic Charities world changed for good and for good,” Former Director of Catholic Charities Lisa Healy said. “A lot happened in the 18 months of the rebuild.”
“When they dug up the gas can, sure enough, something devastating went to pretty scary,” Healy said.
In the coming months, the group worked on designing and building a new place. During this time, the group also relocated to a space on Gay Street in order to continue to serve the community.
“We used that and stopped at some of our different churches,” Healy said. “People in the community didn’t have to find us. We went to them.”
Through the nearly two-year construction project, the charity faced some delays.
“The fire was hot enough that the steel had to be replaced on this side of the building, so steel was hard to come by,” Healy said. “HVAC had to be replaced. When we thought we were going to open, we couldn’t get an electrical panel.”
Though they faced several challenges, Catholic Charities of East Tennessee is ready to continue to serve and offer their programs.
“It took a little bit to get here, but what we did is we stayed focused on the mission,” Healy said. “We provide help and we create hope for people all around east Tennessee.”
Healy said the building totaled around $2 million.
The Knoxville Fire Department said no arrests have been made in the case.