ROGERSVILLE — There’s no timeline for the reopening of the Chip Hale Center, but when its 35 intellectually disabled clients do get to come back, they’ll be awaiting the arrival of four badly needed new vans.
On Wednesday, the Rogersville Knights of Columbus chapter from St. Henry’s Catholic Church contributed a total of $12,685 to the CHC to help pay for those vehicles.
Those funds will cover the CHC’s 20% local match on a Tennessee Department of Transportation grant that was awarded to buy the vans.
CHC Director Alana Young said transportation is very important to the center, but its existing vans have surpassed their shelf life and are unreliable and unsafe. The oldest has 280,000 miles on it and currently isn’t running.
“We’re talking about adults with intellectual disabilities,” Young said. “They normally don’t have any means (for transportation), and if they do have a good support system, sometimes it’s burdensome on their families to make sure they make it to their appointments, leisure activities such as church, ballgames, anything like that. If they need to go shopping. It’s not all leisure. It is essential. There was a lot of research that went into it, and we had to jump through a lot of hoops and paperwork to make (the TDOT grant) happen.”
Young added, “What we have now is a day program which is currently closed due to the virus. Our day program facility allows our clients to come in and learn current events, work on crafts, learn employment skills. We do mock interviews with those who are eligible to be employed. That and socializing.”
Rogersville Knights of Columbus treasurer Ron Campbell said the organization has been raising funds to assist the CHC for 36 years.
All of the money the chapter collects goes to the Knights of Columbus state organization and is then awarded to local agencies in the form of grants.
On Wednesday, the state organization awarded CHC a check for $11,185, and the local chapter kicked in another $1,500 for a total award of the $12,685.
Over 36 years, the Rogersville Knights of Columbus has raised close to $60,000 through various fundraisers such as roadblocks and collections at store entrances.
“Our mission is to help citizens with intellectual disabilities,” Campbell said. “Once we found out we could apply for a grant and help them, we were all for seeing what we could do. That’s what the (Knight of Columbus) MR Foundation of Tennessee is all about — to help organizations like this that deal with citizens with intellectual disabilities.”
On hand to participate in the check ceremony Wednesday at the CHC center with Campbell and Young were Father Bartholomew Okere from St. Henry’s and local Knights of Columbus members Bill Hewitt, Michael Opiela, and Bob McDaniel.