Nashville, Tenn. – The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee has distributed a second round of funding to help in the rebuilding efforts of areas impacted by the wildfires in East Tennessee.

On the heels of an announcement that The Community Foundation partnered with Dollar General to provide $200,000 in gift cards for families receiving assistance from the Dollywood Foundation, the Middle Tennessee nonprofit has granted an additional $100,000 to five organizations located in East Tennessee that are providing services to the medically uninsured, those in need of short-term housing, legal aid, food, and volunteer efforts.

During a recent trip to Gatlinburg, The Community Foundation’s Scott O’Neal hand-delivered $20,000 grant checks to the Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic, Sevier County Food Ministries, Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Ministries, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, and Volunteer East Tennessee.

The Community Foundation, no stranger to disaster response, continues to accept donations to the Fund as the organization focuses on the long road to recovery and areas of need.

“We know when disasters strike, there are no quick fixes,” said Ellen Lehman, president of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. “We need to support the affected communities and the nonprofits on the ground helping victims and addressing their needs.”

O’Neal was greeted by an overwhelming response of gratitude from dedicated residents clearly exhausted by the devastation endured during the community’s unprecedented wildfires.

“It was an emotional high, handing the checks to such dedicated, hard-working, tireless folks, whose reactions were just pure joy and appreciation, even relief,” O’Neal said. “Then, to see the utter destruction, total obliteration in many areas – hundreds and hundreds of structures just gone – only foundations and ash remaining, my emotional high descended to an incredible low. There is so much loss for so many, just surreal.”

The grants were made possible by generous gifts donated to the Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville Emergency Response Fund that was established through The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee upon immediate notification of the disaster in late November 2016.


Photos by Anthony Scarlati

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