Mission of Hope boosts education as pathway to success

Tom KingFarragut, Feature

Most people in East Tennessee and rural Appalachia in Kentucky and Tennessee have heard of the Mission of Hope and the name Emmette Thompson. From time to time, Emmette visits with the Rotary Club of Farragut and gives us an update on the Mission’s mission that centers on hope.

Farragut Rotarian Ray Fisher, of Fisher Tire Co. fame, volunteers at Mission of Hope and has served as president of its board of directors.

Ray introduced Emmette at his recent visit as our speaker and here’s what Ray said about his friend Emmette: “He is the Mission of Hope.”

The Mission began 22 years ago in 1996 and to say it makes a difference in the lives of the families and children in these impoverished rural communities and hollows does not do it justice. Emmette says, “We’re all about extending hope to these families so they can have good lives and these children can hope for a better life.”

Emmette’s warmth, his passion for instilling hope, his heart-felt dedication to these impoverished kids and families and his consistency of message, commitment and action is infectious. There is truly but one Emmette Thompson. He is humble, prayerful, genuine and true to his calling.

If you are fuzzy on what all the mission is doing of late, here’s a laundry list for you and this is not all-inclusive:

  • Accepts donations of clothes, household furniture, blankets, hats, crafts, office goods and food that are collected through its Knoxville headquarters.
  • Back-to-school backpacks for 11,500 children filled with school supplies.
  • Christmas gifts of clothes, shoes, toys, books, food and hygiene items for 18,000 children and family members.
  • Assistance at healthcare clinics.
  • Doing home repairs and building handicap ramps done by volunteers.
  • Awarding scholarships for students to attend Alice Lloyd College in Kentucky and LMU. The scholarships are for $2,500 a year for four years (or $10,000).
  • Outreach and evangelism.

If you care to pitch in and help, the Mission’s next fundraiser is its 15th annual Chick-fil-A Mission of Hope Golf Classic on August 10 at Willow Creek Golf Club. Fisher Tire is one of the major sponsors. There will be shotgun starts at 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The entry fee is $175 per player. You can assemble your own four-player team. The morning round will accommodate 110 players and the afternoon round 130. Contact the Mission of Hope at 865-584-7571 to enter. Proceeds from the tournament will fund the Mission’s backpack program.

During his presentation he placed emphasis on education and the Mission’s role. Emmette explained that the college scholarship program “is the vehicle we are using to break this cycle of poverty and to lift these kids up for life.” Many of these students never finish high school. “Dropping out of school is an epidemic in these rural areas and it’s the first of many bad decisions that these kids make,” he said. “We want to help them get to college, to show them that someone is giving them a chance, that there is indeed hope and somebody cares for them.”

Today the Mission has 51 students on scholarships to both 2-year and 4-year colleges or universities with 44 graduates so far. The Mission is hoping to award 15 more scholarships this year.

Emmette closed with these sincere words to our club: “I thank you for your friendship.” That friendship is a two-way street when it comes to the Mission of Hope and Farragut Rotary.

With that said and Emmette done, club president Chris Camp presented Emmette and the Mission a check from Farragut Rotary for $5,000.

He responded with an emotional thank you, a few tears, a handshake and a smile. “Thank you so much for believing in us and for being our friends,” he said. “This makes hope possible.”

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