Isaiah 117 House now open to serve children in community

Published 9:02 am Tuesday, June 19, 2018

What a difference a year can make.

One year ago today, Rhonda Paulson posted a video on Facebook sharing her dream and vision for Isaiah 117 House as a place where children transitioning into foster care could find comfort and love at a time when their world had been turned upside down.

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Today, one year later, Isaiah 117 House will officially be open and ready to serve the children it has been designed to help.

On Monday, Paulson and members of the Isaiah 117 House Board of Directors were at the house providing tours to caseworkers and other officials with the Department of Children’s Services.

While speaking with the Elizabethton Star, Paulson marveled at how far the ministry she created has come in that one year.

“Our Facebook video that really blew up and got this off the ground was posted one year ago tomorrow, and tomorrow is the day we open,” Paulson said on Monday.

Paulson attributes the success of Isaiah 117 House in reaching their goals so quickly to God’s guiding hand and the dedicated support of the community.

After Paulson and her husband, Corey, became foster parents, Paulson said her eyes were opened to a need in the community she never knew about before. While at the local DCS office, Paulson said she learned a young girl had spent the night in a cubicle at the office while a caseworker tried to find a home placement for her. The child slept on the floor because there was nowhere else for her to go.

Sadly, that story is not an isolated case. After a child is removed from their home, the caseworker begins trying to find a placement for the child, whether that is with another relative, a friend of the family, or a foster home. Sometimes the process is quick, but sometimes it can go on for several hours or days.

It was hearing the story of the little girl sleeping on the cubicle floor that opened Paulson’s eyes to the need, and she began to fill God calling her to do something about it. And thus, Isaiah 117 House was born.

At the home, the children can take a bath, get clean clothes, lay down to sleep, watch television, play in the yard, or play video games while the caseworker works to find a placement. The house has office space so the caseworker can continue their search from Isaiah 117 House while trained volunteers watch over the children.

“We want this to be a home where they feel peace, maybe for the first time, and it doesn’t feel foreign to them but it feels safe and happy,” Paulson said. “We really want to start that message that they have done nothing wrong. This is happening to them not because of them because they have done nothing wrong.”

The house has enough space to serve 10 to 12 children at any given time. The hope is they would need to stay at the house for 24 hours or less. However, Paulson said there have been instances before where children had to remain at the DCS office for three to five days as caseworkers sought a placement.

“Nobody wants that,” Paulson said. “But, how much better would it be for them to be in a house than in an office.”

In the one year since Paulson shared her vision, Isaiah 117 House officially became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, raised $75,000 to purchase a house, remodeled the house to get it ready for the children, and fully furnished it. The agency will serve children removed from their homes in Carter, Johnson, and Unicoi Counties.

None of it would be possible without God and the many volunteers, organizations, and businesses that have donated money, items, and their time to make the dream a reality.

The boys’ bedroom features a firefighter theme, which is appropriate given that the Elizabethton Fire Department completed the room.

“They designed it, shopped for it, and came in and set it up,” Paulson said. One of the unique features of the room is a lamp the firefighters made using an air tank and one of the firefighter’s helmets.

Cannon’s Fine Home Furnishings designed the girls’ bedroom and donated all of the items and furniture in it. Cannon’s also donated other furniture items throughout the house.

When a call comes into Isaiah 117 that a DCS worker needs to use the facility for a child, Paulson said the organization has a team of volunteers — who have all been through the required background checks and training — to staff the house and provide care for the children.

For more information on Isaiah 117 House, visit them online at or find them on Facebook.