By Emily Booker
Samaritan Place unveiled its larger quarters during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 30. The long-anticipated expansion project will allow the program to help more seniors in crisis.
“For every single person here who calls Samaritan Place home this is a place of comfort and refuge from life on the streets,” said Lisa Healy, interim executive director of Catholic Charities of East Tennessee. “This is a place to enjoy a good, warm meal without having to worry about where your next one is coming from; a place to lay your head at night, to sleep in peace and safety; a place to be supported by a loving staff each day who connects you to the resources in the community to support your journey toward independent living.
“We’re getting people off the streets, out of abusive living situations every day. Here at Samaritan Place, our senior citizens are cared for, supported, sheltered, and respected. And today, we get to welcome even more people home.”
Samaritan Place provides shelter and support for seniors in crisis, including short-term shelter and transitional housing services. There currently are 30 residents living there. The expansion has added 12 beds — a 40 percent increase.
The expansion was made possible through the support of The Regal Foundation, The St. Mary’s Legacy Foundation, and the Haslam Foundation, as well as private donors Wes and Liz Stowers, Bruce and Sharon Bosse, Bruce and Tami Hartmann, Richard and Leslie Consoli, Tom and Florence Graves, Robert and Margaret Petrone, and contributors to Catholic Charities of East Tennessee’s 2017 #iGiveCatholic campaign.
Ms. Healy noted that two years ago in Knoxville almost 800 senior citizens over the age of 62 were reported as being homeless, with many being victims of violence and abuse. The goal of Samaritan Place is to help each client live in the most independent environment possible that still ensures their safety.
“Over the past year, we have accepted more than 50 homeless seniors into our emergency and transitional programs,” said Mandy McKay, program leader of Samaritan Place. “Out of those 50 individuals, 42 found successful, independent housing within Knox County. I am grateful to play a small part in those individuals’ lives on their journey to become more independent in society. I am also thankful to have an amazing staff that treats each resident as a family member.”