Last week, a refugee family of nine arrived in Knoxville. It’s hard to find rental property to fit nine, so they had to wait in a hotel for a few days.
Cindy Hood doesn’t want that to happen again.
For well over ten years, Cindy has worked (through Bridge Refugee Services and KIN) with refugees and other internationals in one Knoxville community. She and her family moved into the neighborhood three years ago. They found a house with a small apartment included, intending to provide a safe place for internationals to stay temporarily. But one apartment in one home won’t meet the needs.
In 2018, while volunteering with KIN, Cindy learned about Welcome Houses in North Carolina: a series of homes furnished to hold multiple families for short times at reasonable rates. She immediately knew Knoxville needed to join their network.
After a series of meetings with KIN and other interested parties, Cindy began sharing her vision across Knoxville, raising money, and organizing a non-profit. She’s also looking for the right house. It needs to be in a safe and welcoming neighborhood but also close to public transportation, schools, and ministries such as a food pantry or clothes closet.
Cindy’s vision for Welcome House Knoxville exceeds meeting temporary housing needs. She sees it as a place where former guests return to encourage current residents and show them the possibilities for a good life here in Knoxville. She sees it as a place where interested locals can “dip their toe into” working with internationals: from dropping off a package of toilet paper to helping guests move into a more permanent home.
When Cindy works with refugees, she often thinks, “What if this were my family?” We would all want our families to have a safe, encouraging place to land in a new country. Welcome House Knoxville will make that possible.
READY TO BE INVOLVED?
Interested in Welcome House Knoxville? ‘Like’ their Facebook page, and/or reach out to Cindy at WelcomeHouseKnoxville@gmail.com. There are many ways to support this vital ministry, and Cindy would be happy to talk to you.
Editor's Note (9/2022): Welcome House Knoxville found a permanent location and is an official 501(c)3 nonprofit. They are now looking for a second location! You can still contact Cindy at the email above to tangibly bless Knoxville's very newest international neighbors.
Read the stories of Knoxville's local internationals and the volunteers who have impacted their lives. Get a first-hand view of what it's like to move here and/or to serve those who've moved here from other countries. Discover how KIN has impacted life and culture in metro Knoxville.