Jeanie Fox: A family legacy of community service

Sandra ClarkFountain City, Get Up & Go

“One day,” said Jeanie Fox of her husband, Steve. “Just one day a week.”


“You want him to work just one day a week?” asked the scribe.

“No, I want him to take off one day,” said Fox. “There’s a lot we could do together.”

Jeanie Fox is retired from KUB, but she’s as busy as ever. We caught up with her at Food City where she was accepting donations for Project Help. Steven Fox owns Knoxville Insurance Services in Fountain City. He works every day.

Jeanie is no slacker. She worked more than 50 years in just three jobs. A social worker, her first job was working for KCDC with seniors at Walter P. Taylor Homes. “I loved that job and those people,” she said. “They’re all gone now, but the stories they could tell. They were hard workers who had worked for as little as $2 a day, often paid under the table.”

Next came a stint at the Community Action Committee where she worked on programs for seniors. Finally, she worked at KUB in community-based programs to help customers. The job, she says, was a lot of fun. One of her programs was Project Help. In retirement, she volunteers and serves on its board of directors.

Project Help is an emergency heating-assistance program for people in KUB’s seven-county service area. It provides electricity, natural gas, propane, heating oil, wood or coal for people in need of heat. In 2019, the group served 383 families using more than $115,000 in donated funds.

KUB collects Project Help donations and sends 100 percent of the funds to the CAC, which administers the program. Donations can be mailed directly to Project Help, P.O. Box 59017, Knoxville TN 37950.

To apply for assistance, contact the CAC at 865-637-6700 to determine eligibility.

Round-It-Up is not a part of Project Help, Fox said. The voluntary program allows KUB to round up a customer’s monthly bill to the next full dollar. The extra change goes to a fund that helps people weatherize their home – both homeowners and renters.

Family legacy: Jeanie Fox does not like to talk about herself. We did discover that she won the John J. Duncan Sr. Award for Senior Advocacy, an honor sponsored by the CAC’s Office on Aging. She also volunteers with CAC’s Paws program that matches pets with seniors, and once a week she reads to kids at Inskip Elementary School where her daughter teaches.

Jeanie talks instead of her father, Calvin Taylor Sr., and her brother, Calvin Jr. The younger Taylor was the director of the Homeward Bound Program at CAC for 18 years. He was a founder of the Homeless Coalition and served as its president. He passed away in 2009 at age 51. He held a master’s degree from UT and told Jeanie that he chose his profession because it was what she did.

Their father was a noted Knoxville attorney, a partner in the law firm Cheek, Taylor and Groover. He died at age 58. Jeanie remembers him as a community activist – a leader in the Northside Kiwanis Club who never turned anyone down. She has a picture of him wielding a shovel at the groundbreaking for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

He also played trumpet in Par 40, a band that practiced on Sundays in the old WNOX Studio. He coached rec league ball for his kids’ teams. Jeanie remembers playing softball at Fountain City Ballpark and attending Fountain City United Methodist Church.

“If everybody did just one thing for their neighbors, what a wonderful world this would be.”

Sandra Clark features a community volunteer each Wednesday in a feature called “Get Up & Go.” To recommend someone, email sandra.clark@knoxtntoday.com 

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