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Member Spotlight: East Tennessee Foundation

August 10, 2017   -   0 comments

East Tennessee is a wonderful place to live and raise a family. There are many great opportunities here, so much to do and see, but not everyone can do it on their own. Sometimes all it takes to get started down the right path is a helping hand from someone who cares. In this region, the East Tennessee Foundation (ETF) is here to help. As a non-profit community foundation, the ETF is responsible for managing and investing a range of charitable funds that have been established by businesses, families, individuals, and numerous other non-profit organizations.

Putting Money and Help Where It Is Needed

The East Tennessee Foundation was established in 1986 when two previous organizations merged together to form the ETF. The new organization started out with assets to the tune of $625,000. Today the ETF is now able to provide assistance to 25 counties in East Tennessee. In 2016 the organization poured more than $12.7 million into the coffers of literally hundreds of non-profit organizations throughout the region and further.

By the end of 2016, the ETF was comprised of 425 philanthropic funds and 10 supporting organizations whose total assets were in excess of $300.4 million.  Since the East Tennessee Foundation came into existence, they have granted more than $237.5 million to those in need.

Where the ETF Is Helping

2017 looks to be a banner year for helping those in need here in East Tennessee as the ETF has already provided a variety of grants. Among the many grants and awards that the ETF has helped providet so far this year are:

  • Campbell Enhancement Fund Launches Spring Fundraising Campaign
  • 2017 Top Wrench Competition
  • East Tennessee Foundation Announces Youth Endowment Fund Grants Opportunities
  • East Tennessee Foundation and Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS Y-12) Announce $125,000 in Grants for 2017
  • Sevier County Community Fund Presents $84,000 in Grants to Sevier County Fire and Rescue Departments for Disaster Relief and Recovery
  • 24 Volunteer Fire Departments Receive $98,000 in Total Grants
  • East Tennessee Foundation’s Neighbor to Neighbor Fund Provides Fire Disaster Relief

A Noble Goal

The East Tennessee Foundation has a number of goals, but the most important one may be to help create and build an endowment or permanent source of philanthropic funding for the people who call East Tennessee home. They do this by helping the various donors to plan their own charitable donations and carry them out so that they provide much-needed help in the many local communities and regions that make up the East Tennessee area. Ultimately, the goal of the East Tennessee Foundation is to help connect those who have funds with those in need of them in an effort to make East Tennessee one of the best places in the world to live and raise a family.

Member Spotlight: A Secret Safe Place for Newborns of Tennessee

August 8, 2017   -   0 comments

If you are pregnant, scared, and have no idea what you are going to do with your baby, there is no need to panic.  Under the Tennessee Safe Haven Law, you have an option designed specifically to help those with unwanted, unintended, or hidden pregnancies. No matter what, you should never abandon your newborn baby. Under this program, you have up to 3 days to surrender your baby at any one of the following locations without fear of reprisal:

  • Hospitals
  • Birthing Centers
  • Community Health Clinics
  • Outpatient
  • Walk-in Clinics
  • EMS Facilities
  • Fire and Police Stations that are open 24/7

So many expectant mothers who are scared and have no idea what to do, or anyone to turn to, end up making choices out of fear.  Picture this, a baby wrapped in a blanket and dropped off in any number of unsafe places. This happens countless times a day, 365 days a year, not just here in Tennessee, but all over the country.

The most common reason for this scenario is that the mothers often have spent the last nine months of their lives living in fear and doing their best to hide the fact they were pregnant from family and friends. The few lucky babies are handed over to firemen, police officers, or the nearest nurse at the hospital.

Secret Safe Place is Here to Help

Since Secret Safe Place first opened their doors, they have saved over 90 newborns by giving pregnant women the help they need. Not only do they offer mothers-to-be a safe place to surrender their babies, they offer information regarding the safe and secret options available to them under Tennessee Law.

A Secret Safe Place was founded in 2000 after a 14-year-old gave birth in secret and then abandoned the baby. The 14-year-old was convicted of First Degree Murder and sentenced under state law.  Through the efforts of Shawna McConnell and Lisa Yount of Blount County along with many others, the Safe Haven Law in Tennessee was passed in 2001.

Secret Safe Place is a non-profit that supports and assists the many facilities where women can safely drop off their newborns without fear of prosecution (providing they are unharmed) within 72 hours of birth. Their goal is to eliminate the number of abandoned babies through education and public awareness campaigns.

Discover the Parkway Antique Mall in Maryville

August 3, 2017   -   0 comments

There are so many fun activities in the Maryville, TN area to enjoy, including a number of parks to relax in, the Bluetick Brewery, and the historic Capitol Theatre. But there is one place that seems to have found its home here for over a decade and is the perfect place to spend a few hours wandering around looking for a great bargain. The Parkway Antique Mall offers one of the largest selections of antiques for sale in the area.

Whatever You Are Looking For

There are those antique collectors who have very specific items they collect and those that collect a wide variety of items based on no particular grouping. No matter what you are looking for, from signs to furniture, and from cookie jars to period jewelry, you are sure to find it here.

The majority of the antiques found at the Parkway Mall are some form of furniture. This selection covers virtually every room in your house from the dining room to the bedroom. As you enter the front door to the Parkway Antique Mall, the first thing that hits you square between the eyes is that virtually every inch of the walls and floor are covered with antiques. They hang from the walls, dangle from the ceiling, and hide in glass showcases.

Are you interested in antique quilts and blankets? The mall has dozens of them all at very affordable prices. If you love antique plates, they have every conceivable color, size, shape, vintage and more. Many hang on the walls, the rest are on shelves, in boxes, in drawers, and virtually anywhere there is space for a single plate to fit.

Never Be Without Time

Antique clocks have long been a collector’s item and the Parkway Mall has dozens on the walls, from brand advertising like Coca Cola to hand crafted wooden clocks. Speaking of advertising items, the walls here are festooned by dozens of advertising signs; there are both genuine antiques and reproductions. Take your time and browse through the boxes in the advertising section, you might be pleasantly surprised at what you can find. These signs make great wall decorations for your garage, man cave, or family game room.

One thing for sure, you should never judge a book by its cover, as the outside of the Parkway Mall is very unassuming. But once you open the door and walk inside, to the antique collector it’s like a kid stepping into the proverbial candy shop. However, one word of warning, the inventory in the Parkway Mall is so big and the people who work here are so incredibly nice, you may find yourself wandering around for hours trying to decide what you won’t be taking with you on this trip.

The Parkway Antique Mall is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sunday. Be sure to stop in and see all they have to offer the next time you are passing through town; just be sure you have plenty of room in the trunk!

Limited Time Only! New Tiger Exhibit at the Knoxville Zoo

August 1, 2017   -   0 comments

Tigers conjure up some pretty amazing and exciting images in our minds. They are both beautiful and capable of incredible violence all at the same time. Tigers can be found in Africa, Siberia, China, Asia, and many other parts of the globe. They are unfortunately rapidly disappearing from the world. This is a fact that many zoos, including Zoo Knoxville and many conservationists, are constantly working to prevent. Zoo Knoxville is delighted to announce that it will be home to not one, not two, but three Sumatran Tigers for the next few months!

Why Zoo Knoxville?

The three Sumatran tigers, which are an endangered species, are eventually destined to live at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere in the coming months. The only problem with this is that their new home is not quite ready for them to move into.

In order to make room for the zoo’s new guests, their Malaysian Tigers currently living there have moved into their new home in the Tiger Forest, which is part of the Asian Trek habitat. Fortunately, this area had been under construction for a while and had only just been completed in anticipation of moving the Malaysian Tigers.

Meet the Ladies

Jo, Shanti, and Raza are all three-year-old females and were born at the Topeka Zoo in Kansas. According to the zoo, the move was being made based on the recommendations of the Sumatran Tiger Species Survival Plan. This group is in charge of managing the entire population of Sumatran Tigers living in aquariums and zoos here in the U.S. that have been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The Sumatran Tiger is considered to be critically endangered with only an estimated 400 of these amazing cats left in the wild, all of which live on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. According to the World Wildlife Federation, the Sumatran Tiger is the smallest subspecies in the world known to still exist. They have a bright orange coat that is highlighted by heavy black stripes.

They are endangered and face ever-declining space to live in as deforestation, the spread of civilization, and rampant poaching continue to take their toll. While Indonesia is doing its best to curb the loss of these magnificent animals, the demand for tiger parts and products continues to escalate, along with the poaching that supplies them.

Happy to Have Them

Phil Colclough, Zoo Knoxville’s Director of Animal Care, Conservation, and Education had this to say, ” We are happy to be able to help our neighbors in Nashville. It’s what zoos accredited by the AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) do as part of a collaborative team working to save animals from extinction. Additionally, it gives our guests the opportunity to see and learn about both Malayan and Sumatran tigers, some of the most critically endangered animals in the world.”

Bring your family to see these magnificent tigers while they are at Zoo Knoxville; if you wait too long, you will have to drive all the way to Nashville, which is to be their permanent home. Zoo Knoxville is open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

History Buffs! Check Out This Interactive Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge!

July 27, 2017   -   0 comments

Of all the maritime disasters in modern history, none has the appeal and interest that accompanies the sinking of the majestic White Star Line Titanic. We all know that the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in just over 2 hours on April 15th, 1912 on her maiden voyage. This horrific tragedy resulted in the deaths of over 1,500 people, but at the same time, it has captured the hearts and imagination of people from around the world.  

Today, visitors to historic Pigeon Forge, TN can enjoy touring a lifelike replica of this ill-fated ship complete with a cast of characters including Captain Smith and the “Unsinkable” Molly Brown. Museum founder John Joslyn grew up being fascinated by the story of the Titanic and the 2,208 passengers and crew who set sail on the ship’s maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. In 1987 John was co-leader of the team who used submersibles to examine the wreckage sitting at the bottom of the ocean.

Once You Enter the Museum

Upon entering the Interactive Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, TN you can choose between a self-guided interactive tour or an enhanced tour that features audio. The audio enhanced tours are split into one for adults and one just for the kids. The stories of that tragic voyage are told from both an adult’s and child’s perspective.

Each visitor is handed a boarding pass with an original passenger or crew member’s name. The pass includes information about the person whose identity you have been given, including who they were, why they were aboard the Titanic, and a chance to visit the memorial at the end of the tour to see if the person survived or perished.

Plenty of Interactive Activities for Everyone

Throughout the museum, you will find artifacts from the Titanic, replicas of many items, staterooms, the milk glass dome from above the grand staircase, and more to look at. All the while you will be treated to stories from actors playing the parts of passengers and crewmembers from that fateful night. “Captain Smith” is often portrayed by John who will regale you with “stories” of that night and true stories of his adventures controlling the submersible used to discover and examine the wreckage.

On the “exterior” deck, everyone has the opportunity to touch a living growing iceberg and run your fingers through water that is the same temperature as it was on the night the mighty ship sank. There are many other activities including shoveling coal, sending Morse code answering questions, and more. Inside this “floating museum” there are over 20 galleries containing more than 400 genuine artifacts and a plethora of replicas to see.

Be prepared to spend the day at the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge as there is just so much for you and your family to see and do. The tour is listed as taking only two hours, but if you try to cut it this short, there is no way you can possibly see it all and enjoy it.

Relaxation or White-Knuckle Adventures! River Rat Tubing & Rafting

July 25, 2017   -   0 comments

Whether you are looking for some serious whitewater rafting sure to get your adrenaline running or a nice lazy float down the river the smallest members of the family can enjoy, Smoky Mountain River Rat has it all and more. Every member of your family age 2 and up are welcome here. River Rat is located only 15 miles from Pigeon Forge and 20 miles from Gatlinburg, making it close enough for the family to take a refreshing break from the crowds.

Family Fun on the Lower Section of the Little River

The easiest way to spot the lower section of the Little River where the waters are calm is to look for the big, bright, yellow tubes. This is where you will find the main outpost of River Rat Rafting & Tubing. This area is ideal for the younger members of the family as it features gentle relaxing rapids, incredible scenic views as you float down the river, and there is even a rock jump for you to enjoy. No matter how many people are in your party, there is plenty of room for everyone to grab a float and relax. If you plan to be in the area more than once or are spending the summer here, the Splash Pass gives you unlimited tubing and one whitewater trip pass.

Adrenaline Pumping Heart Stopping Whitewater Rafting

For those who want a little more excitement, the upper section of the Little River offers you the opportunity to dip your paddles in a series of Class III and IV rapids. The Upper Pigeon White River and Extreme Upper Pigeon Adventure are both for those ages 8 and up.  Kids age 15 and up can also enjoy a ThrillCat Kayak Adventure. The journey downriver winds through the spectacular Cherokee National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains.  All trips are managed by trained guides who are there to make sure you safely complete your journey.

What You Need to Bring with You

No matter whether you are planning on hitting the family friendly lower section or braving the rapids, you will need to bring a swimsuit or a pair of shorts you are prepared to get wet. You will also need a pair of shoes that will stay firmly on your feet such as water shoes or sneakers. You cannot wear flip flops or sandals for safety reasons. You may also want to bring a towel and a change of clothing for everyone.

River Rat provides all necessary equipment and skilled guides to help make your day fun. Also, be aware that the degree of difficulty of the upper-level rapids may be upgraded or downgraded based on the current water level so your experience may vary from one day to another. Finally, be sure to book early as spaces fill up fast.

Gatlinburg Family Fun: Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park

July 20, 2017   -   0 comments

No matter what time of year you come to Gatlinburg, there is always plenty for the whole family to do at the Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park and Ski Area. While there might be amusement parks with more rides, none offer such amazing views of the Great Smoky Mountains. From fun rides like the carousel to mountain coasters and water raft rides in the summer to ski and tubing slopes in the winter, this is one place you can’t afford to miss when visiting the Gatlinburg, TN area.

Getting Here is Half the Fun

While most amusement parks have thousands of parking spaces you have to hike in from or if you are really lucky ride a trolley in from, Ober Gatlinburg makes getting to the gates half the fun. To get to the park you must ride the Aerial Tramway. This is a cable car system that uses two counter-balanced 120-passenger cars to carry you 2.1 miles from ground level to the top of the mountain where you can enjoy your day. The cars go directly to both the amusement park and the ski area.

Not Every Park Has a Coaster Like This

Ober Gatlinburg is one of the few amusement parks in the world with a roller coaster like the Ski Mountain Coaster. This one runs 3750 feet through the trees as it snakes down the slopes. The entire ride lasts about 5 1/2 minutes from start to finish. The cars are made to fit one adult or one adult and a child. The “driver” has a hand operated brake they can use to control their speed, letting you enjoy all this magnificent area has to offer.

Take the Chair Lift Up and Slide on Down

You can’t go snow tubing in the summer but the Alpine Slide may be the next best thing to it. You get to ride the scenic chairlift up to the starting point and then “slide” back down on one of the two tracks the wander and weave down the dipping descent for 1,800 feet of woods and trails. Be sure to look around you as you never know what you might see out in the woods.

Cool Off in the Heat of Summer

Riding the coaster or the slide is a great way to have fun, but when you are ready to cool off, head over to the water park. You don’t even need a swimsuit here. There are water slides and raft rides to enjoy and there is nothing like getting soaked in the cool water on a hot summer day.

Wildlife Encounter

You can’t come to Tennessee and not expect to see some of the wildlife the area is famous for. At the Wildlife Encounter, you can see several different bears, bobcats, otters, birds of prey, the nocturnal house and so much more. Let the kids enjoy a break viewing the animals and give you the perfect photo opportunity.

This is only part of the adventure that awaits you and your family at the Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park and Ski Area. Most of the park is open all year long with the exception of the water park. Also worth noting is that the bears do hibernate in the winter and are tucked away out of sight.

Family Fun in Townsend, Tennessee – Mountain Mini Golf

July 18, 2017   -   0 comments

In 2016 Townsend, TN natives Chris Kilby and Brian Thompson got together to reopen Mountain Mini Golf, the town’s only miniature golf course after it was closed down in 2012. Kilby says he can remember playing here when he a kid. The thought behind the reopening of the course was to be able to “offer an alternative to the craziness of Pigeon Forge” as he puts it. The course was previously known as Heartland Golf and now adds another fun activity for locals and tourists to enjoy in Townsend.

A Full 18-Hole Course

Mountain Mini Golf is a full 18-hole course located at 7761 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway and is covered in shade provided by a range of mature shade trees. These trees were one of the biggest problems the new owners faced when they took over. Kilby remembers it being a mess with overgrowth so bad it was impossible to see through it.

Restoring the course has been a work of love for these guys, painstakingly restoring all the holes one by one to ensure they offer guests the ultimate in mini golf play. Unlike many mini golf courses with their windmills, clowns, and other distractions, Mountain Mini Golf prefers to retain its rural quiet roots. Kilby states that the theme of the renovated course is “The Peaceful Side of the Rockies.” So, if you are looking for a mini golf course loaded with all the bells and whistles, this one may not be right for you. However, if you want a course that is not only fun to play, but can be quite challenging, this is the one.

Continued Renovation

It is said that “Rome was not built in a day”, it takes time and effort to restore a place like Mountain Mini Golf, something the owners are more than well-aware of. It is their thought that the best way to restore the holes is to take them on one at a time. This allows the guys to concentrate all their efforts on perfecting each hole before it is reopened for play.

Not only is Mountain Mini Golf fun and challenging to play, but it is one of the most affordable mini golf course in the area with free play for children under the age of five.  Despite being what some describe as a tough or challenging course, the kids will have a blast trying to sink the ball in the cup at each of the holes.

When you have had enough of the craziness in Pigeon Forge and want a relaxing and quiet activity the whole family can enjoy, bring them all over to Mountain Mini Golf. The course is open Wednesday through Sunday. Hours are Wednesday through Friday 4 – 9 p.m. and from 1-9 p.m. on weekends. No flash, no craziness, just good old-fashioned fun for the whole family. Be sure to stop in and check Mountain Mini Golf the next time you are in the Townsend, Tennessee area.

Plan a Weekend of Pampering in Maryville!

July 13, 2017   -   0 comments

Most of us tend to lead extraordinarily busy lives that leave us little in the way of time to relax and unwind. There are times when you probably wish you could check out and tell the world to leave you alone, even if it’s only for a few hours. When this time finally comes, what do you do about it? The best thing you can do is plan to spend a weekend pampering yourself in one of the many amazing salons and spas in Maryville, TN. While there are several salons and spas to choose from in town, these four are among the most popular.

Larue & Co. Lash and Skin Studio

Larue & Co. is one of the newest salons and offers a range of services starting with Xtreme and Minsky eyelashes that let you choose the fullness and color of your eyelashes. Larue & Co. also offers a full range of waxing services. Then give your face a fresh new look with complete facials, chemical peels, acne treatments, diamond tip microdermabrasion, and more. Check out the Gallery on their site for up-close views of their many beauty treatments. When all is said and done, you can head back to your work week feeling refreshed and looking your best.

Downtown Smooth Esthetics

At Downtown Smooth Esthetics, you can get your eyelashes extended, have a complete facial, and rejuvenate your skin with a chemical peel. They offer the latest next generation oxygen facial, the OxyGeneo™ 3-in-1 Super Facial. This process uses Capsugen™ and a nutrient rich gel to improve tissue oxygenation, making your skin healthier and more supple.

Linda’s Salon and Spa

Linda’s enjoys an amazing reputation with the ladies in and around Maryville. The lovely ladies who work here offer haircuts, hair design, and styling. There is a licensed massage therapist in-house that offers infant and geriatric massage, hot stone massage, Reiki, acupressure, young living raindrop therapy, aromatherapy and more. Linda’s offers perms, waxing, hair coloring, and a full range of nail options.

The Hair Experience

If you are looking to create an “all-new” you then you might want to spend a little of your weekend at The Hair Experience. They offer a full range of hair care services including style & cut, coloring, perms, deep conditioning treatments, and keratin treatments. They also offer waxing services for the chin, upper lip, and eyebrows. The amazing ladies here will work with you to create that fabulous new look you have always wanted and make you feel like a queen before you leave.

As you can see these salons offer an amazing array of services, all aimed at helping you to relax and look your best. One thing worth mentioning is that if you plan to be in the area on a specific weekend, you may want to call ahead and book your appointment, the vast majority of the salons in town tend to book up early.

Explore the Smokies by Motorcycle – GSM Motorent

July 11, 2017   -   0 comments

If you have been looking for a different way to enjoy all that the Great Smoky Mountains near Pigeon Forge, TN have to offer, look no further than GSM Motorent.  This area has long been considered by motorcycle enthusiasts as one of the best rides in the country. At GSM Motorent you have your choice of carefully maintained motorcycles to choose from. In fact, the company takes great pride in being able to offer the most diverse range of rental motorcycles in the Smokies.

While you must pick up and return your bike in Townsend, you can modify your ride to suit your own tastes or desires. You can choose a self-guided tour for the day that lets you choose where and when to stop, or one of their multi-day tour packages that come with bike rental, all of the different routes carefully planned out for you, and lodging. They even include a GPS unit that gives you turn-by-turn directions on the best possible roads that will take you to your hotel at the end of each day.

Plenty of Rides to Choose From

For those who prefer to take a self-guided tour, GSM Motorent will provide you with a GPS unit that helps you find the type of riding you love. If you are looking for twisting turning roads that are fun and challenging to ride, there is nothing better than the Smokies, Cherohala Skyway, Blue Ridge Parkway, Foothills Parkway, or the Tail of the Dragon. This is only a small selection of the many amazing routes you can choose from.

For those who prefer to ride dual sports, the routes are laid out using good old-fashioned route sheets. These routes take you deep into the Cherokee National Forest around the Tellico Plains or east of the Great Smokies National Park into the Pisgah National Park.  Each day’s route is approximately 180 miles long and will include anywhere from 35 to 75 miles of off-road riding. You should plan to spend 7 to 8 hours riding before you reach your hotel in the evening.

Multi-Day Tours

The multi-day tours also start out and end at the GSM Motorent shop. You should plan to pick up your bikes the evening before you plan to ride. This will give you time to go over the itinerary and the bike before you check into your hotel for the night. These routes are fully planned out and programmed into the GPS, all you have to do is turn it on, start your bike and take off for one of the most memorable rides of your life. The best part is the GPS unit will also alert you to points of interest along the way and show you the best places to eat.

With so much to see and so many different routes to ride, you will find yourself coming back several times each year. Be sure to call ahead and reserve your bikes as this is one of the most popular activities for motorcyclists in the area.

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