New center brings compassion to Carter County

Published 7:58 pm Friday, October 28, 2022

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By Danielle Morin
Elizabethton Star
   “Compassion Consolidated.” That is the motto of Carter County’s newly opened resource center, The Carter Compassion Center. Founder and pastor of Harmony Freewill Baptist Church, Brandon Young, was joined by Interim Director Andrew Kingston and board members for a ceremonial ribbon cutting to mark the official opening of the center on Friday.
  The non-profit charity is a new opportunity for Carter County residents in need to find help that they may otherwise have trouble locating on their own. Volunteers there, like Kingston, can help individuals and families locate organizations that can provide shelter, utility bill assistance, or other avenues of aid. Young says instead of families having to travel to multiple offices when they already cannot afford gas or spend hours calling multiple resources, they can visit the Compassion Center and have workers there help them in going through the process – whether that means making phone calls or assisting in filling out financial assistance applications.
   And the center is not only beneficial for the community, but for local churches as well. A pastor himself, Young says that oftentimes congregation members look to the church for financial assistance. While church pastors are always eager to help, he says many churches have trouble knowing where to direct those in need or cannot always afford to provide assistance themselves. Young said he is intending for the Compassion Center to be that place where local churches can send those who may be struggling.
    The Carter Compassion Center was “just a dream,” Young said, in 2019. He felt like the beauty of Elizabethton was being overshadowed by an image of poverty and drug abuse that many outsiders associate with the town. “We want to change the narrative of what’s going on in our city and our county,” he said. Young began reaching out to community members and soon a board was formed. The center received grants from both the TVA and Elizabethton Finance to get the physical building renovated, repaired, and up and running. The center had a soft opening earlier in the month and has already begun helping those in need in the region. Young said the impact they have already begun to make is “priceless.”
Board members of the Carter Compassion Center spoke to those in attendance at the open house about their involvement and passion for the project. Vice President Mike Simerly commented on the “huge need,” noting that one-third of Elizabethton’s population lives below the poverty level. And Karen Jones got emotional as she explained that she was once a single mother and knows firsthand what it feels like to struggle. “My heart went out to the people in this community,” Jones said concerning her reason for joining the Compassion Center’s mission, “we just want people to know they are no longer alone.” Kathy Thomas added that, while most of the board members were part of the Christian community, the Compassion Center is not a faith-based operation, stressing that they want all people, regardless of religion or beliefs, to feel welcome to come seek help.
And the Compassion Center is focused on more than just providing financial assistance. The center will host classes designed to combat things that contribute to poverty, like literacy or overcoming drug abuse. They also plan to provide parenting classes and have an upcoming class to help those coping with death and grief. Kingston explained that the center is about helping people in every aspect of their lives, not just financially, with Young adding, “This is not a hand-out, this is a hand-up.”
Young said, “this is just the beginning.” He sees a bright future for the Carter Compassion Center, and would like to see the center expand to other counties in the future. “Maybe a Johnson County Compassion Center, Washington County Compassion Center,” he said, adding that he has spoken to people in Mountain City about the possibility of starting a center there as well.
If you or anyone you know is in need of assistance, or if you are interested in donating or becoming a mentor for those in need, you can contact the Carter Compassion Center at 423-930-3777 or visit the center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays. The center is located in the former Chamber of Commerce building at 500 Highway 19E in Elizabethton. A list of events and community classes can be found on their Facebook page. Donations can also be sent through PayPal, visit for more information.

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