Anyone who wants to help homeless, struggling families in Blount County get a new start should make plans to be at the former Belk store in Foothills Mall on Friday or Saturday, Oct. 1-2.
Be prepared though: Bring a checkbook and get ready to be impressed as professional and amateur designers put together bedroom suites for auction during this a special fundraiser to celebrate the anniversary of Family Promise of Blount County.
Organizers say “A Place to Lay Your Head” is a unique “Roomscape” event, the first of its kind in East Tennessee. It brings together design teams from across the community for a showcase of creativity and inspiration.
“This is to celebrate our one-year anniversary,” said board member Christy Newman. “It is a fundraiser, and we hope to make it an annual event. We’ll have professionals and non-professionals coming in and taking a space and setting up a bedroom.”
Teams will design themed bedroom ensembles which will then be available for public viewing and purchase.
The weekend kicks off the evening of Friday, Oct. 1, with a Sneak Peek Reception. For a $25 donation to Family Promise, patrons will get to have a first look at designer bedding ensembles and the opportunity to participate in a silent auction on complete bedroom ensembles.
Guests will stroll through a showcase of beautifully decorated bedrooms including nursery and kids’ rooms, guest rooms and master suites, which along with accessories and decor pieces will be available for purchase. Organizers say it will be a wonderful opportunity for someone to create their own special place to sleep and dream.
Then on Saturday, the general public will have the chance to come browse the selection for a $5 donation. “What’s not sold the night before can be bought by the piece,” said Newman.
Several non-profit agencies and other businesses are sponsoring design teams, including Fowlers, Keep Blount Beautiful, Asbury Place and Salvage Unlimited. There will also be food vendors both days and a children’s area for youngsters to play in while parents browse.
Melinda L. Headrick, principal designer with Chatham Interiors, Inc., said what planners are hoping for is diversity in designs for the patrons who will be browsing, and hopefully buying, the different bedroom suites. Others will be looking for an idea they can make their own. “A lot of people come to an event like this to get ideas and to get inspiration,” Headrick said.
Headrick said this could become an event Family Promise is known for annually. “It has the potential to become a phenomenal event for years to come,” she said. “It has the ability to burst out because it is unique and raises money for a good cause.”
At Fowler’s Furniture Factory Outlet, designer Robyn McCammon will design a bedroom in the project. “It sounded like a fun project,” she said.
McCammon said she’ll start this project like she would any job, by looking at the space. “You pick out an element that inspires the rest of the setting,” she said.
Whitney Otto, manager at Salvage Direct at 1500 West Broadway Ave., Maryville, said she got involved when Newman told her about the opportunity to be part of the Family Promise fundraiser. “We have three locations and that’s what our owner is all about, being active in the community and working for a good cause,” she said.
Otto had some items put aside for the bedroom suite she’ll design. “We don’t know exactly what we’re going to do, but we’re going to make it look good,” she said.
Kathi Parkins, executive director with Family Promise of Blount County, said volunteers will also show patrons an example of the type bedroom a church congregation sets up for Family Promise clients who are homeless and need a temporary place to stay while getting back on track. “Family Promise is going to set up on bedroom, and it will be an example of what people use when they stay in our churches,” Parkins said. “The comparison is a good one to see.”
Newman said there will be a big difference in the bedroom the clients use in churches and the ones people will be bidding on. “It’s going to be a stark contrast when you look at the Family Promise one with a roll-away bed and those opulent bedrooms we’ll see from the designers,” she said.
Parkins said as Family Promise is celebrating its first year, they still hope to build on their first year of success. “We’re going to recruit volunteers and clergy. We have 28 congregations who partner and work with families. We have about 1,000 volunteers, and we want to recruit clergy and coordinate with these congregations,” she said.
Tickets for the Place to Lay Your Head event are available at the Family Promise Day Center, located at Green Meadow United Methodist Church on Louisville Road.
Family Promise of Blount County is one of more than 150 affiliates of the National Family Promise organization, which has been serving homeless families for 20 years. Family Promise’s goal is to help homeless families find lasting employment and housing through a network of congregations and local resources within Blount County that provide overnight accommodations and meals to families on a week-to-week basis.
Usually, the families in the program are facing homelessness for the first time in their lives, due to job loss, medical conditions, financial problems, or other tough circumstances. This is where Family Promise steps in to provide a hand up and guide them back to self-sufficiency and lasting independence.
According to Family Promise of Blount County, the organization, its staff and volunteers throughout the community have been able to assist more than 100 individuals since beginning service in Blount County one year ago this past June.
“A Place to Lay Your Head” One-Year Anniversary “Roomscape” will be from 5:30 to 7:30 Friday, Oct. 1, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, in the former Belk Department Store in Foothills Mall.