KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Community organizations are helping bridge the gap so many inner city kids in need can be successful in school.
With a focus on academic success, the century old Wesley House Community Center in Knoxville is making a difference by helping dozens of local students.
“The staff comes here, and if they didn’t care, they wouldn’t come here,” said student Nyeem Colley.
The Wesley House is a home away from home for nearly 80 kids in the Lonsdale, Beaumont and Mechanicsville communities.
“I would describe it as a fun place. During the summer, we get to go on field trips,” said Colley.
The C.A.R.E.S. program gives these students the support they need to have a fighting chance at being academically successful.
“When I first came to the Wesley House, if I don’t know something on my homework I ask for help,” said T’Keyah Johnson.
The Wesley House works closely with their teachers to support any areas in school they are having trouble with, even targeting behavior, tracking all of the kids’ grades and progress reports. Last school year, more than 70 percent of their students showed improvement in school.
The work that goes on here couldn’t happen without the generosity of the community.
“We run completely off of donations, so they are unbelievably important. Money is something of course every non-profit can use and we need help with, since we are in this new building. But things as simple as pencils, and extra school supplies because we do provide that for all of our kids. We do Christmas adoptions,” said program director Kelsey Vaughn.
They also provide snacks and drinks for the kids everyday.
This often leaves their food pantry bare. There is a lot of work to be done and the need is great, but if you ask any of the workers or volunteers, it’s all worth it.
“You come in after school and you have five kids running up and giving you a hug that you have never met a day in your life, and they all are pulling you in different directions wanting help with your homework, you’re hooked,” said Vaughn.
The average senior adult on Social Security lives on just $420 dollars each month, a tough amount to make stretch for anyone.
That leaves much of the heavy lifting to organizations like the Wesley House, which helps seniors not only get out of the house and fellowship, but assists them with some of their essential needs.
The WISE program, which stands for wellness in senior education, serves inner-city senior citizens in Knoxville. For more than 60 years, they have provided food, fun and mental stimulation every Friday.
They say their favorite activity is their weekly bingo tournament where they play for essential home and personal care items like toilet tissue, paper towels and laundry detergent.
“It helps out a great deal because we all live on fixed income and a lot of times, we don’t have to buy paper towels, toilet tissue, dish detergent and that helps with out income,” said senior Mary Cozart.
All of the items are donated from people and organizations in the community.
More online: How you can help Wesley House