Church transforms into warming shelter in Blount Co.

The warming shelter will be open Thursday and Friday starting at 7 p.m. through the morning.
Through the non-profit John 3:16, he and the First Baptist Church in Maryville welcomed people to a warming shelter when its too cold out for anyone to sleep on
Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 7:47 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Homelessness in Blount County has become a problem without a clear solution. Dr. Philip Hoffman found himself with a burning desire to help, which sparked up a plan.

Through the non-profit John 3:16, he and the First Baptist Church in Maryville welcomed people to a warming shelter when its too cold out for anyone to sleep on the streets. A white flag invites guests inside for the night with a free dinner and breakfast that waits on the table.

“There was an effort to try to do something about it,” Hoffman said. “The concept that they’re all mentally ill or on drugs is wrong. It’s very short sided. There are those among them, no question about it, but there are some that can be helped.”

There’s a slight road block: the group can’t use the church’s gym any longer as it’s a shared space. John 3:16 is hoping to expand to a building of their own that will be a winter-long warming shelter with year-round lockers, showers and food.

The aid in Blount Co. is just getting started. The organization′s partnering non-profit, Pivot, is now jumping on board with permanent housing solutions.

“Our model right now is focused on tiny houses, (to) have a small footprint to transitional housing,” Drew Goins, Pivot board member, said. “I sat with a gentleman at the DMV for an hour and a half to get him a $10 I.D. so that he could get his night shift job and get his apartment. That $10 was the difference in him getting back into society.”

The warming shelter will be open Thursday and Friday starting at 7 p.m. through the morning.

First Baptist is located at 202 W Lamar Alexander Pkwy, Maryville, TN.

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