Citizens gathered at the LaFollette Church of God Friday with one thought on their minds-the betterment of the community through two organizations.
Though Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington was the guest speaker, there wasn’t much football talk going on at the Community Health Foundation reception. Instead, Pennington spoke of the importance of giving back to the community.
A native of Knoxville, Pennington also has deep ties to Campbell County. He spent many summers in the area. His mother was a teacher at Campbell County High School and his father was a coach there as well. Throughout his childhood, Pennington said he received encouragement and love, which empowered him to be the success he is today. In return for that success, Pennington is helping organizations such as Community Health of East Tennessee (CHET) and the Campbell County Children’s Center (CCCC) in order to empower others. Pennington’s father, Elwood Pennington, currently holds a board position in both organizations.
Both CHET and the CCCC are members of the Community Health Foundation with a shared goal of growth and development. In order to grow and help more people, funding is required, which was Friday’s goal.
CHET is working on two expansion projects. The first project is for domestic violence shelter transitional housing. Fundraising for the transitional housing is nearly complete with $900,000 raised, leaving only 10-percent needed. CHET has also raised $500,000 towards a community health center, leaving another 70-percent still needed. “We desperately need a health clinic and more providers,” said Chair of the Community Health Foundation Jo Anne Myers.
Last year, CHET served 11,200 people. It had to turn some people away due to a lack of providers and space, which is why the addition of a health clinic is so important, according to Myers. She said she hoped the reception helped get the word out about the variety of services CHET offers, as well as make the community aware of the great need in the area. “We serve the full insured, the under- insured and the uninsured,” said Myers, describing the health clinic.
The CCCC, like CHET also concerns itself with helping others and giving back to the community. Specializing in helping physically and sexually abused children, the CCCC tries to reduce the trauma and impact of such abuse by providing special facilities for the abused children of the area. The center was founded specifically to provide a safe haven for these children. CCCC provides a child friendly environment in which forensic interviews, sexual assault medical examinations, treatment of mental health counseling and court and family advocacy can take place. It also provides education to empower non-offending parents and creates and atmosphere in which a child’s voice is both heard and respected. Statistics show that one of every four families is affected by abuse, whether physical, sexual or mental. That is why it is so important for the children’s center to raise funds to build a new, bigger facility in order to better provide for the many abused children of Campbell County. The CCCC also provides services to Claiborne and Union County as well. A total of $800,000 has been raised, leaving a remaining 30-percent still needed to build the new center.
“I want to give back to the people who gave so much to me and my family,” said Pennington. He then spoke of the importance of leadership and providing support for those who need it. Funding to aid the children’s center or CHET can be sent to the Community Health Foundation Fund in care of East Tennessee Foundation, 625 Market Street, Suite 1400 Knoxville, TN 377902.
“We’ve lost sight of what true leadership is in society today,” said Pennington. “Leadership is service to others, it requires sacrifice and humility to truly serve,” said Pennington.
“We’re all here today because someone gave us that glimmer of hope,” Pennington said, urging others to be that glimmer to those who need it.