Knoxville man opens outreach center to honor late son

Positively Tennessee

It’s a one-man mission to help those who’ve hit rock bottom with nowhere to go.

Ira Grimes lost his 26-year-old son Keenan to a drug overdose last year. During his lowest moments, he decided to do something positive, always with his son in mind.

We surprised Grimes with a visit to the Community Outreach Center named for Keenan. Keenan’s death led Grimes to open his broken heart to others needing help.

“I guess it prepared my heart,” Grimes says, “For what I’m doing. You don’t want anyone to experience that kind of pain.”

The center is home to just about anyone who needs it. Grimes receives no official funding or grant money. Donations are strictly grassroots, and, so far, it’s working.

The group here today has the feel of a readymade family.

Hollie Worthington is celebrating her fourth year of sobriety but came here last week to find somewhere to find peace.

I was dealing with a lot of depression before I came and he gave me purpose,” she said. “I’m going to try not to cry. Just giving me something to do to help and give back is such a good feeling.”

Andrew Brouillette has known Grimes now for five days.

“My wife and I were sleeping in a car and we came to Chip and said ‘we have nothing to offer, we’re broken,'” Brouillette remembers. “We needed a chance to take a breath and grow and he gave us that opportunity,” 

Right now, half a dozen people live at the center. At one point there were 24 under the same roof.

Grimes started out by picking up people from under the bridge near other homeless shelters who couldn’t or wouldn’t let them stay.

“Love really does offer hope, and together we can make change,” Grimes said. “Together though. That’s the key word.”

One person who’s been watching is LaCresha Logan who works with the disenfranchised in Anderson County. She learned about Grimes through social media and was drawn to his mission and message.

“I’ve been following him for about a year now watching and just wondering ways I can help – really inspired more than anything,” Logan said.

The Keenan Grimes Community Outreach Center is at 2561 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. Visitors are welcome Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 5 pm. on Saturdays, if you’d like to donate. You can call the center at (865) 964-0343.

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