Samaritan Place is home for homeless seniors

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – There is a special place in Knoxville that’s pretty rare. It’s apparently one of only about a dozen programs in the country for homeless seniors.

It’s called Samaritan Place. It’s operated by Catholic Charities and it depends on our community’s support to provide some critical needs.

Right now, 27 people live at Samaritan Place. All were either homeless or at risk of having nowhere to go. Ron Williams, 62, embodies the heart and soul of Samaritan Place.

He chose to come back after his first stay here several years ago.

“The first time I was really having a problem with my wife passing away and my life was pretty much shattered,” Ron says.

Williams’s wife died of cancer. He is now terminally ill with the disease,and after staying with relatives for awhile, he returned to Samaritan Place to spend time reading his bible, surrounded by the people he feels are like family.

Gallery: Samaritan’s Purse

“They said I could come back,” Williams said. “When you walk through these doors, all you feel is love and compassion and caring and they work with you to put your life back together.”

Christie Sheffield is a case manager at Samaritan Place. She helps link residents with all kinds of resources, mainly, housing.

Samaritan Place works with more than 40 local agencies to provide critical needs.

“A client will come and maybe they haven’t seen their primary care physician or they don’t have one. And so they don’t have the medications they need and we try to link them back with those services,” said Sheffield.

Samaritan Place depends on our community for support, whether its donations of money or supplies. They need your help not just during the holidays, but all year.

The average stay at Samaritan Place is six months. The first 30 days are free of charge. It’s not easy to find affordable housing for low income seniors, and sometimes if it doesn’t work out, Samaritan Place truly becomes home, as it has for Ron.

“I just don’t want to give up,” he says. “In here, you don’t feel like you’re giving up. Here, you’ve got something that fulfills you a little bit, or a whole lot.”

People must be at least 60 years old to live at Samaritan Place. Seniors are often referred by homeless shelters, hospitals, and Adult Protective Services. Williams was referred by the VA. He’s a veteran of the Vietnam War.

If you’d like to help Samaritan Place, contact program manager Joy McNeil at (865) 524-9896 or

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