Banner Staff Writer
Reba Terry, executive director of The Caring Place, recently announced the nonprofit’s annual fundraiser banquet will be held Thursday, Feb. 27, at 6 p.m. in Lee University’s DeVos Recreation Center.
Support raised through the event allows operations to continue year-round.
“[The banquet] hopefully encourages people to be involved whether that is through volunteering, giving financially, praying for us — or whatever they can do,” Terry said. “We depend on the proceeds, the profits from our banquet, to carry us through the rest of the year.”
Author, speaker and radio host River Jordan is slated to speak at the event.
She has written a number of books, including “Praying for Strangers.”
The memoir stemmed from a New Year’s resolution made at the beginning of 2009.
“A funny thing happened a few years ago,” Jordan began on one of her podcasts. “I had this sort of idea ... I remember the moment. I was trying to gather everything together ... and I had this idea, my resolution would be to pray for a stranger I passed on the streets every day.”
The act was initially supposed to remain a secret between Jordan and God. She quickly found it was difficult to keep the prayers to herself.
After a week of quietly praying for individuals, she broke her silence.
“I was in the bus station and I see this woman and I’m thinking, ‘You know what? I know she is my stranger today,’” Jordan recounted. “And I think, ‘I’ve got to tell her.’”
Her book delves into the stories of the strangers she met and how lives were changed by praying for them.
Terry said the heart of the book complements The Caring Place mission.
Although clients are not required to hear the plan for salvation when they receive food or clothes, Terry said TCP, “makes no bones about being faith based.”
Clients often request a time of prayer with both volunteers and staff. Sometimes a volunteer will offer without being asked. There is also a prayer request box anyone can use.
Terry said praying for strangers, whether they know it or not, is a new concept for TCP. She said it was a good challenge for supporters, volunteers and staff alike to consider.
Tickets for the event cost $60 per person and $400 for a table of eight. These tickets can be purchased through an email to TCP at thecaringpla-ceonline.org/contact-us/ or by calling 423-472-4414. Anyone interested in being an underwriter sponsor for the event may use the same means of communication.
Two goals are accomplished through the annual banquet. The first addresses the often unseen need in Bradley County.
Terry said she hears from residents who claim to have never seen the need.
“It is easy for us in Cleveland to leave our subdivision, go to school, go to work, go to church, whatever it is that we do, and never see [the need],” Terry said. “It is out of sight, out of mind. Some of us kind of like it that way.”
According to Terry, everyone is responsible for lending a helping hand to neighbors in need. This is the general mission of The Caring Place. Families and individuals who find themselves in a tough spot know where they can get food, clothing and a reminder they are not alone.
Programs offered by The Caring Place include: Neighbors in Need, a rent/utilities support service; the Sac Pac Program, a weekend feeding program for elementary and middle school students; and Karis Dental Clinic, dental care for adults at a minimal price. Diaper Love, a local nonprofit, also utilizes TCP’s headquarters as an outlet for the free diapers given to families in need.
Clothing and food are also made available for those in need throughout the year.
According to statistics provided by The Caring Place, the number of food bags distributed has risen each of the past four years:
- 14,385, 2010
- 15,607, 2011
- 16,184, 2012
- 17,934, 2013.
Terry said clients rarely make it a habit to use The Caring Place’s services every time they are available. The rising numbers might mean an increase in the number of people who know about the services, versus an abuse of services. Increased numbers signal a need for more support of The Caring Place.
Terry said the second goal of the banquet is to meet the need for support.
She explained financial gifts have an important place in the nonprofit’s day-to-day dealings.
“We can’t facilitate our grant programs and assist the community without the support of this banquet and without the pledges,” Terry said. “It is the foundation.”
However, she said financial donations are not the only way to help. She explained volunteering time can come in many forms.
“I know not everyone is comfortable working with our population. It is a difficult population. They are stressed and vulnerable,” Terry said. “There are so many things they can do without being on-site. There is the gift of writing, compiling grants, record keeping — there are all kinds of things they can do.”
Added Terry, “It takes all of that.”