ETCHA seeking increased funding from community to remain open

Published 8:38 am Monday, November 14, 2016


An Elizabethton agency founded 70 years ago to serve children is calling on the community to help them raise additional funds to keep their facility open.
This fall, East Tennessee Christian Home & Academy is hosting their annual Give Thanks Campaign to raise funds and they are asking the community to dig deeper into their pockets to meet the program’s needs.
“After 70 years of serving children and youth, we are in danger of closing if we do not increase our yearly income by at least $20,000,” said ETCHA Director of Services Melissa Marvel in a letter sent out to supporters of the program. “This is above the income received in regular donations and fundraising efforts.”
ETCHA was founded in 1946 by Preacher Fred Smith of First Christian Church in Elizabethton after he witnessed a local judge placing children in jail because they did not have a family to provide for them. With no facility in the community care for these children, Smith and a leadership board of 14 members opened ETCHA on an 18-acre property.
Over the years, ETCHA has changed, but the mission has remained the same — to provide a Christ-centered ministry to help at-risk adolescents and their families.
In the 1980s, ETCHA contracted with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services to admit children or youth who were in state custody. During the more than 10 years ETCHA cared for adolescents in state custody the program served hundreds of children, ministered to them about Christ’s love and helped them to become successful, productive citizens.
“In 2004, after the State of Tennessee ‘red flagged’ our contract for our strong church attendance policy, our Board and leadership made a difficult but needed decision to stop receiving state funds,” Marvel said in the letter. ETCHA lost half its budget after it stopped contracting with the state. While many child caring organizations were forced to close their doors, ETCHA was able to carry on by reorganizing and downsizing its program and through the generosity of faithful supporters in the community.
The program is now in need of increased support in order to sustain its operations.
“Although financial failure is not imminent, heightened concern at this time is warranted for the future operation of ETCHA,” Marvel said. “Since severing our state contract, we have benefitted from estate settlements and endowment restructure, but in years that we have not received these types of funds we have a short fall of revenue.”
“In addition to maintaining the rising costs of operation as well as capital improvements such as the expenses on two roofs and ongoing plumbing/electrical needs of our 70 year old campus,” she continued. “These improvements have cost our ministry valuable resources and created a shortfall in our budget for several years.”
Each year during the holiday season, ETCHA asks supporters to contribute during their Give Thanks Campaign, and this year, the agency is hoping the community will give more generously in light of the increased need.
“As you and your loved ones celebrate the joy of this special time of year, we encourage you to share with the ETCHA ministry a monetary gift equal to the amount that you spend for your holiday meal,” Marvel said. “Each year our supporters respond generously and we thank you. No amount is too small and we ask that you once again give richly!”
For more information on ETCHA or to donate, contact the organization by telephone at 423-542-4423 or visit them online at

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