Experiencing first hand, Jessica Shelton, a Knox County resident, knows what it is like to be in a shelter and homeless. When she was a child her, her younger brother, and her mother found themselves at the KCEOC Women’s and Children’s Emergency Support Shelter with nowhere to turn due to unforeseen circumstances. They called the KCEOC shelter home for 45 days, and KCEOC helped them move into their own home, and gave them a new beginning.
Jessica saw the KCEOC “Sponsor a Family” program on the KCEOC Facebook and it immediately hit home. Having gone through this experience, Jessica immediately contacted Beverly Isom, KCEOC Homeless Services Manager. After speaking with Beverly, and getting a description of the families in the shelter at the time, Jessica chose to sponsor a single mother of four children during their time at the shelter.
As soon as she chose the family she jumped right in and began her mission to change their lives. She began by writing a list of things they may need. She said, “I thought to myself what would someone who has nothing, and starting over, need? I began making a list of personal hygiene products, cleaning supplies, and more that someone would need to move into a new home.” Items that were donated for the family included: mattress and box spring, two air mattresses, five bedding sets, hygiene products, house cleaning supplies, clothes, kitchen utensils, pots and pans, dish sets, garbage can, mop and broom, living room suit, and more.
She knew if she could get more people on board, she could make even more of an impact. For two months she contacted local businesses, people she knew, and one day parked in downtown Barbourville and walked to every business in the Court Square and down Knox Street. So many community members jumped on board and donated products, things they had at home, and monetary donations. She kept the items stored until everything was collected.
Jessica, a worker at Parkway Pharmacy, said her co-workers helped and supported her through the whole process by helping her stay positive, donating what they could, helping contact individuals, and allowing her to store the items at Parkway Pharmacy.
Through her efforts, she joined a community to accomplish one common mission. The businesses and individuals who donated to sponsor the family are as follows: Cristy Napier, Calvin and Charlena Manis (owners of Parkway Pharmacy), Southeast Finance, Save-a-lot, Walmart of Barbourville, Bill Oxendine, IGA of Barbourville, Carrie Lefevers, Elizabeth Mills, Ugly Mug, Amanda Mills (Shear Vixen Salon), Travis Rossman Law Office, Cole and Cole, Nationwide Gary Campbell Insurance Agency, Anderson & Newman Law Office, and Betty Brown at Carreen’s. Josh from Rent-A-Center donated a complete living room suit including a couch, love seat, lamps, and two end tables. Many others donated as well who wish to remain anonymous, or who we were unable to get in contact with to use their information. Jessica, the family, and KCEOC are very appreciative and thankful for all the donations received for the family.
When asked about the experience Jessica said, “I absolutely loved it! I try to help as much as I can, because I have been helped myself tremendously in numerous ways, and I believe lending a hand whether or not you will ever be paid back, is one of the most important things a person can do. I would suggest everyone in Knox County participate in the “Sponsor a Family” program at KCEOC. This program is amazing, and I have always thought a lot of KCEOC because they were there when we had nowhere to turn or go. I will definitely do it again.”