By Danielle Morin
Foster kids in Washington County will be staying warm this season as the colder weather starts kicking in. Members from Impact Tri-Cities presented the Isaiah 117 House in Washington County with a huge assortment of blankets and duffle bags they collected during a recent drive.
Josh Pruitt, an Impact Tri-Cities member, said the donation was a no-brainer for the group, whose “goal is to make an impact in the Tri-Cities,” adding that the Isaiah 117 House presented, “an area that was a great need to fill.”
The Isaiah 117 House, a non-profit organization that began in Carter County, provides a safe home for children while they await placement in the foster care system. Regional Director Julie Dixon talked of the impact the houses make on those children, saying, “Because of these houses, we are taking a really traumatic day for these kids and changing their trajectory. We’re changing that day in their story.”
For every child who comes through its door, the Isaiah 117 House provides a clean, warm bedroom, plenty of food, and anything else they may need – from toothpaste to shampoo to clothing. Because many kids come into the house with nothing but a garbage bag filled with what few possessions they have, they leave with their own duffle bag and a warm blanket they can then take to their new home.
While the house is always in need of donations, they were especially lacking in those bags and blankets that make such an impact on the children. After hearing about the need, Impact Tri-Cities held a drive to help the house collect more of those items so that no child would have to go without.
Pruitt was joined by Impact Tri-Cities President Jamie Butler and Vice President Jay Cottrell as well as other members of the group – Tony Webb, MakaylaMcKinney, Brian and Sherie Clough, and Kelly Bagley – to present the house with the results of the drive. Butler said they even received donations from other states, with someone shipping items all the way from Arizona.
Butler commended Dixon for the work the Isaiah 117 House is doing for the community, saying, “Everything you do, not just providing them a place where they can be, but helping to facilitate the process of finding them a home, really spoke to me.”
But the Isaiah 117 House is not only focused on benefitting the children. They also want to support foster families and help make the transition as easy and seamless as possible. Dixon called the process, “a very lonely journey,” explaining, “[Foster parents] do get a small stipend, but it’s at least six weeks after you take a placement before you start getting that money, so that first six weeks is hard.” Dixon went on to say, “We can look at them and say, ‘What else do you need? How can we make sure this placement sticks?’ ”
Dixon said community involvement is vital for the organization’s success, pointing out, “This house would not exist without our community.” She said the Impact Tri-Cities donations drive was just one of many instances where she has seen the community come forward to help the cause. “The community’s impact has been unbelievable,” she said, “It’s been really neat to see that once the community knows about it, they have stepped up in every county that we’ve gone to.”
Dixon says the Isaiah 117 House’s “mission is to change foster care everywhere.” Since its beginning in 2018, the organization has spread nationwide, with homes also in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Indiana, Arizona, Ohio, Virginia, and South Carolina. Dixon said the growth has come largely from their feature on the Facebook show, “Returning the Favor.” The “Dirty Jobs” host, Mike Rowe, who runs the show, featured the Isaiah 117 House in one of his episodes in January. Dixon said since then, “40 states and four countries have reached out, wanting a house.”
Pruitt said the Impact Tri-Cities group’s recent drive will not be the last. “We will continue donating whatever they may need,” he said, “It’s a great organization to help.”
If you are interested in donating or volunteering for the Isaiah 117 House, you can contact their Resource Center at 423.518.3760, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.