Johnson City network of nonprofit health and human services expanding

Sue Guinn Legg • Mar 24, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Uniquely positioned to serve as a hub of health and human services for veterans and at-risk residents of several surrounding Northeast Tennessee counties, Johnson City’s network of charitable organizations expanded in several key areas in 2018 and are posed to continue that growth in the coming year.

With the March 2018 appointment of Kristan Ginnings as the new president and CEO of the United Way of Washington County, the local United Way almost immediately set out to make a greater impact.

In July the United Way opened to its funding to new nonprofit program applicants in hopes of meeting more of the local need in the areas of health and financial stability in particular.

And in August, in the first expansion of the United Way’s longstanding roster of 17 annually funded nonprofit organizations in more than a decade, the United Way announced it would be including five new service programs to its annual allocations.

Ginnigs said the expansion increased the number of United Way partner agencies, and under a new allocations process implemented with the expansion, also increased the number of agency programs receiving United Way funding.

New United Way program partners

• Appalachia Service Project’s Tri-Cities Year-Round Home Repair program, which would go on to launch a major expansion of the program in year-end celebration of the 50th anniversary of ASP’s work to make low-income homes warner, safer and dryer.

- Appalachian Mountain Project Access’ Specialty Care Coordination program, a network of charitable medical providers who donate their care to patients deemed eligible through a comprehensive financial screening process.

- The Crumley House day-treatment program people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries.

- Frontier Health’s Johnson City SAFE House domestic violence shelter.

- And the Jonesborough Seniors Center’s new MyRide Tennessee program that provides transportation to medical appointments for town residents age 60 and older who do not drive or have driving restrictions.

United Way Reading Initiatives

In August, the United Way also launched a new virtual reading program to help second graders in Johnson City and Washington County schools improve their reading levels. Dubbed “Vello,” the virtual reading program linked 10 public classrooms to busy volunteers who read with the students via a computer link.

Piloted in the 2018-19 school year, the program has been extremely popular among volunteers who appreciate the convenience of working directly with students from the comfort of their homes or offices and with educators who are seeing students’ reading proficiency improve.

In February, Ballad Health and United Way agencies in seven surrounding Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia partnered to commit $300,000 in reading initiatives for third graders in Washington County that will be used to expand the Vello program in the new school year beginning in August.

Ginnings said each of the United Way’s new partner programs have a unique way of making a difference in the community and bringing them on as funding partners. This allowed the United Way to provide more comprehensive support for people who live here.

Appalachia Service Project Expansion

ASP, the Johnson City-based home repair ministry that for the past 50 years has been connecting volunteers from across the eastern United States with low-income homeowners in four Central Appalachian states, is also branching out.

In December, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency awarded ASP a $500,000 Challenge Grant for the construction of a $6 million, 200-bed dormitory and additional warehouse space at its Johnson City headquarters.

The construction is part of an major expansion of ASP’s local year-round home repair program for low-income Tri-Cities area homeowners.

The new dormitory and warehouse space will be built at ASP’s current Bristol Highway location and will house out-of-state church groups that will come here to volunteer in ASP’s Northeast Tennessee home repair and rebuild programs.