Close vote adds to the heat at Knoxville SOUP

Betsy PickleSouth Knox

Suspense was high at Thursday night’s Knoxville SOUP in the gym of the South Knoxville Community Center.

The SKCC previously hosted SOUP in July 2016. It was one of four contenders in the micro-funding event, seeking money to replace its worn-out treadmill, and it won with a home-court advantage.

Thursday, center director Debbie Beeler vied against three new worthy contenders, all trying to win money to fund projects geared toward helping the community. Would SKCC repeat? Did it have enough supporters on hand to win the pot?

Supporters fill the gym at the South Knoxville Community Center for Knoxville SOUP.

In a SOUP first, it did – and it didn’t. The center’s project, “Better Serving a Growing, Older Population,” tied for votes with the Montgomery Village Tenants Association’s “Back-to-School Supply Drive.” The 156 attendees had donated $813 at the door, which the two groups split.

SOUP volunteer Danny Gray contributed another dollar so that the prize money wouldn’t have to involve coins. The co-winners each garnered $407, keeping the neighborhood happy – the community center and Montgomery Village are about a mile apart on Maryville Pike.

With WVLT anchor Alan Williams moderating the proceedings and Nancy Campbell of Island Home Park Neighborhood Association keeping time, the four presentations went by quickly. Kyle Ford described City of Refuge Inc.’s program of supporting families – foster, adoptive and biological – using the arts. Info:

Beeler was armed with statistics to show how valuable the community center is, especially for older adults, who are the most engaged in the center’s exercise opportunities, field trips and tours, arts and crafts, volunteering at the center and special events. She listed critical needs such as an air-conditioning unit for the fitness room, new lightweight tables, a new coffee pot, paper goods and a projection screen.

William Mahaffey made his second SOUP presentation on behalf of Central Cinema, a one-screen movie theater with approximately 80 seats being created in Happy Holler. The theater will specialize in classic, art and independent films, cult favorites, screenings of local interest and themed films. The project is raising money at and is hoping for an early-2018 opening.

Amanda Beckner represented the Montgomery Village Tenants Association and made a passionate plea for the back-to-school supply drive. She noted that the complex’s 367 apartments have an average annual household income of around $8,000. About 1,000 people, including 600 children, live in Montgomery Village, and providing for school supplies is beyond the reach of many parents. Info:

The next SOUP will be held in October. The date and location are TBD.

Janine Al-Aseer, site resource coordinator for the New Hopewell Elementary community school, and Grace Ringuette,13, are ready to welcome visitors to SOUP. Grace is visiting from Los Angeles; her great-uncle and great-aunt Joe and Mary Touchton of Colonial Village were SOUP volunteers and signed her up to work as well.

Mary Eleanor Pickle thinks hopeful thoughts as she stands next to a limo whose services are part of a raffle package at Knoxville SOUP.

Larsen Jay, whose Random Acts of Flowers provided a raffle prize, waits for the SOUP program to start with South Knoxvillians Karen Fletcher and Roe Lyle.

Tammy Dailey, here with her husband, County Commissioner Carson Dailey, won one of the evening’s most popular raffle prizes, a plant and a gift certificate donated by Stanley’s Greenhouses.

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