Isaiah 117 House opening new residence for displaced children in Washington County

Jonathan Roberts • Sep 8, 2019 at 12:00 AM

For children removed from their parents’ care, one of the worst days of their lives is only compounded by having to spend hours stuck in a Department of Children’s Services office.

That’s where Isaiah 117 House steps in.

“As we move into each community, we just look at the numbers of how many children are in foster care because currently, when that child is removed they go to a DCS office to sit and wait,” said Isaiah 117 House founder and director Ronda Paulson. “Now, they can come an Isaiah House and get a bath, a snack, a meal — just really get lavishly loved on.”

Currently, the only operational Isaiah House is the organization’s flagship in Carter County, which served 131 kids last year alone. Greene and Washington Counties both have plans to open their houses by the end of 2019, with Sullivan County’s opening in early 2020.

Plans to expand are also being developed in Bradley, Blount, Cocke, Coffee, Franklin, Grundy and Rutherford Counties, with another county in Indiana also looking at opening an Isaiah House.

“In the big scheme of things, these homes are not crazy expensive to open, not crazy expensive to maintain, but they are crazy effective,” Paulson said. “I think that’s why the model is catching on.”

The Washington County house will open on Tuesday, Sept. 17. Former Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe — whose company, Wolfe Development, remodeled the house — said the house his company’s skills were “perfectly matched to make a meaningful contribution” in the community.

“We believe this house will be able to meet the needs of these kids in crisis for many years to come,” Wolfe said.

Paulson hosted a fundraiser for the Washington County House Thursday afternoon at Grace Fellowship Church, hoping to raise the first year’s budget of $75,000, and came close to reaching that goal.

“Washington County!! How do we event thank a community well enough when they showed up for our kids and said, Love, you are NOT alone! Today you raised $65,000!!!!!!” a celebratory post to the house’s Facebook page read, adding that they’re “thankful” to have the support of the community.

The 1,600-square-foot house will feature a fully stocked kitchen and pantry, as well as a basement full of clothes and school supplies for children to take, as they often don’t have any of their belongings with them when they’re removed from the home.

“The need is great, and I’ve not met a single person that would tell you that a child doesn’t deserve better than sitting and waiting in a cubicle or conference room on the worst day of their life — even if it’s just for an hour,” Paulson said.

For more information on Isaiah 117 House or to donate, visit the website at www.isaiah117house.com.