East Tennessee Foundation: Impacting Monroe County For Generations

Written by The Bingham Group

East Tennessee Foundation (ETF) is a public, non-profit, community foundation established in 1987 that assists financial donors by providing a simple and personal way to make charitable contributions in order to make a positive impact in the community they care about most.

They help donors manage and invest their assets, and then award grants and scholarships to designated organizations across 25 East Tennessee Counties.

ETF has an affiliate fund in Monroe County that utilizes the charitable contributions given in our county and distributes those funds with the assistance of an advisory board made up of members who live and work in Monroe County. This board determines the local organizations and people that will be receiving grants and scholarships from ETF.

East Tennessee Foundation has had a tremendous impact in our hometown. This year, many organizations received grants from the John D. Grubb and Louise G. Sumner Fund for Monroe County. This fund was established in 1998 through the charitable giving of Grubb and Sumner, both Monroe County natives, who desired to build a brighter future for the people who lived in the place they called home.

Following is a list and brief description of the organizations that will be impacted in 2014, and how they will use their funds from ETF in the coming year:

Boys and Girls Club of the Monroe Area
The Healthy Habits program will promote health and wellness for Club members.

Branches of Monroe County, (BoMC)
BoMC is preparing for the opening of the first and only domestic violence shelter in Monroe County.

CASA Monroe
Volunteers will be recruited and trained to advocate for abused and neglected children.

City of Sweetwater
A downtown depot replica is being built to house a visitor’s center and museum exhibits.

Coker Creek Economic Development Group
Support will be provided for operating the Coker Creek Welcome Center and for cultural events.

Douglas-Cherokee Economic Authority
The Monroe County Neighborhood Center will assist low-income households with garden supplies, school supplies, fans/air conditioners, and emergency services.

Douglas-Cherokee Economic Authority
The Senior Nutrition Program at Cora Veal Senior Center will help meet the social and nutritional needs of elderly people.

Fort Loudoun Association
Several new educational exhibits will be added to the museum and to the reconstructed fort.

Good Shepherd Center
The heating and cooling initiative will benefit clients who lack the funds to efficiently heat and cool their homes.

Hiwassee College
The Hiwassee College Lecture Series will host events and speakers.
The W.O.R.T.H. Program will provide coaching in career, life, financial, and literacy skills for women facing financial and other challenges.

Monroe Area Council for the Arts
Artists will provide children with instruction in music, dance, performance, and other art forms at summer art camps.

Monroe County Board of Education
A Calculator Lending Library will provide high school students in-need with graphing calculators.

Monroe County Senior Citizens & Friends
Low-income seniors will participate in the “Physical Fitness for All” program at Cora Veal Senior Center.

Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee
The “Food for Kids” program will provide children at risk of hunger with backpacks containing supplemental food.

Senior Citizens Home Assistance Service
The Homemaker Program will assist the elderly and persons with disabilities with their daily activities.

Sequoyah Birthplace Museum
A free Sunday lecture series will be offered in March, and Cherokee Heritage Days will be hosted for local schools.

Spay/Neuter Assistance for Pets
A multi-year spay/neuter project will ultimately reduce the number of animals euthanized at the Monroe County Animal Shelter.

Sweetwater Valley Citizens for the Arts
Students will work with artist Alfredo Escobar to paint a school wall mural of comic strip characters.

Tellico Boxing Club
Area youth will be provided with opportunities to participate in the sport of boxing.

Tennessee Valley Coalition to End Homelessness.
Information about Monroe County’s homeless individuals and families will be entered into a federal database system.

United Way of Monroe County
The Monroe Area Services Guide will be updated, printed and distributed.

These brief descriptions provide insight into the tremendous impact ETF is having in Monroe County. Almost $75,000 was distributed to these local organizations to help aid them in their organizational mission.

Branches of Monroe County (BoMC) has opened Branches Refuge, the first and only domestic violence emergency shelter in Monroe County. BoMC Executive Director,
Denise Hill, states, “We are so thankful for the impact that ETF has had on our organization. The grants received from ETF in the past have helped us pay for staff and volunteer training expenses as well as many critical items needed for Branches Oaks transitional living program. This year, the money was used to help with security and surveillance systems at Branches Refuge. This will help abused women and children transition from a crisis situation to independence safely.” Over the last five years since they opened, they have already served over 100 families.
Branches assists women fleeing domestic violence with employment, life skills training, safety plans, budgeting and parenting skills, as well as help their
children get back into school.

Each organization has a story of how lives are transformed or impacted through the support of ETF, but it is not only organizations that receive support, but also individuals. Jonathan Hicks was a recipient of this year’s John D. Grubb and Louise G. Sumner Scholarship as well as the Craighead Limestone Scholarship, both administered through ETF.

Hicks is now a senior at Middle Tennessee State University and is a Recording Industry major with an emphasis in audio production and a minor in music. In his college career, he has worked as an intern with a Billboard chart topping record label based in Los Angeles, a Grammy winning music publisher based in New York City and Nashville, and a gold and platinum record producer in Atlanta. Three separate opportunities he earned and has worked, while a full-time college student.

At only 21 years old, Jonathan has had the privilege of working as an assistant engineer on two records that have charted the billboard 200, a feat that many go entire careers without achieving. He gives a great deal of credit to the East Tennessee Foundation for his success. He states, “The East Tennessee Foundation has been an enormous contributor to my success in both academia and my career. Their continued support is a blessing to which I am eternally grateful. My story is unusual. I have abandoned the pathways of security and normality in an effort to make my wildest dreams become reality and hopefully make the world a better place in the process. Frankly the only reason I don’t crash and burn daily is that I have the support of some outstanding people such as The East Tennessee Foundation.”

Kim Hicks, Jonathan’s mother, is so grateful not only for what they have done for her son, but also what they have done for Madisonville Library in previous years. For the last 15 years, Kim has worked as Director of the Madisonville Library. The funds the library received last year from ETF helped them provide food for “Friends of the Library” who are volunteers that assisted with fundraising efforts for the new library. For over a decade, they have used these funds from ETF to help distribute 7,000 books every year to non-profits like the Boys and Girls Club, local daycares, and other organizations that look out for the interest of children. It has been a tremendous need filled every year for the library.

In this edition of Monroe Life, you can also read about CASA Monroe, an organization who also receives funding from ETF. The stories are countless of the lives changed through the help of generous donors that give to ETF. ETF is an amazing organization that is transforming Monroe County for the good of its people now and for generations to come.

For more information on how you can donate to East Tennessee Foundation or learn more about their services, contact ____________at ________________ or visit the website at

About the author

The Bingham Group

We are a full service advertising and marketing agency that's been in business since 1989. Our team handles everything from web development, graphic design, and videography to digital marketing and advertising as well as the production of Monroe Life, Farragut Life, and McMinn Life magazines.

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