Learn How You Can Support Susan G. Komen of East Tennessee

October 5, 2017   -   0 comments

Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer affecting women today. Yet, despite the constant reminders for preventative care such as annual mammograms, the number of breast cancer patients seems to be on the rise in most areas. The good news is that thanks in part to efforts of organizations like Susan B. Komen, breast cancer mortality rates here in the U.S. have decreased by 38 percent from 1969 to 2014 and continue to go down. The big question is how can you get involved and what can you do to support Susan G. Komen in East Tennessee?

Start by Getting Involved

Like any organization dedicated to helping others, Susan G. Komen is always looking for volunteers. You don’t need any special skills or education to be a volunteer. All you need is a desire to get involved and help. Your services can come in handy as a runner, a volunteer who can take on a wide range of duties, including being present at the many events Susan G. Komen supports. Your services may also be needed as an activist whose job it is to help make others aware of the organization and the needs of those suffering from breast cancer.

The organization is always looking for help with the many fundraisers they hold throughout the year. And of course, your help is always going to be needed to raise awareness and to show support for the various legislative actions introduced to the Tennessee Legislature over the course of the year.

Host a Fundraiser

Hosting a fundraiser is another great way you can help the Susan G. Komen organization. There are two ways you can go about this. You can hold a fundraiser and let people know any donations you collect are being donated to a local organization for breast health, breast cancer, and breast cancer research and then donate the proceeds to the organization.

Alternatively, you can put together a “Rally for the Cure®” at a variety of sporting events such as golf and tennis outings, or host a dinner with the proceeds going to help the many services the organization offers.  

Other Ways to Help Raise Funds

You may not realize that when you go shopping on, you can choose a non-profit to support via the Amazon Smile program which helps to support Susan G. Komen East Tennessee.

You can use your Kroger Plus Card to help support the organization by visiting their Community Rewards page. You must enter either Susan G. Komen or the special support code 20555.

Next time you plan to visit the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies or any of their other locations, be sure to order your tickets online using the promo code pink0516. This code will save you $2 on each adult ticket and $1 on each child ticket. Ripley’s will then donate this money back to the organization while you and your family get to enjoy these spectacular attractions at a discounted price.

There are so many things you can do to show your support for Susan B. Komen in East Tennessee. The best way to find out more about how you can help is to contact the organization and let them tell you what you can do and what they need.

See How the Knoxville Area Urban League Empowers Communities and Changes Lives

October 3, 2017   -   0 comments

The Knoxville Area Urban League, founded in 1968, is a civil rights, economic development, and social services organization that came into being at the height of the Civil Rights movement. In the early days, the League’s main focus was to ensure equal employment opportunities for the area’s African-American residents. Today, the organization’s focus has spread far beyond its humble yet vital beginnings and now covers an incredibly diverse range of clients in Anderson, Blount, and Knox counties.

Starting at the Beginning

The Knoxville Area Urban League helps our communities to grow in so many different ways, including with its Shoes for School program, that provides new shoes along with much-needed supplies for over 1,200 children. This vital program helps kids over the age of 5 get off to a good start in their lives. This program ensures every child has the same chance to start off the school year ready to go and to feel comfortable among their peers.

Helping Our Locals to Find Work

One of the biggest contributors to poverty in this area is not the lack of jobs, it is the lack of people who have the skills needed to fill the vacancies.  One of the goals of the League is to provide counseling to area residents designed to help them find jobs to support their families. With access to more than 1,200 job openings and more than 650 employers, the League has helped add over $2 million in earned income revenue to our communities.

Helping Our Neighbors to Realize the American Dream

Homeownership is the great American dream, but for many it seems to be one that is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve. The Knoxville Area Urban League has helped dozens of local families purchase their own homes. They have helped even more of our neighbors learn how to successfully manage their finances so that they can put themselves in a better position to buy a home in the future.

Boosting Local Businesses and Our Economy

The League continues to support the growth of local businesses and in doing so helps to put millions of dollars back into the local economy every year. For example, in 2014 the League invested over $2 million into helping new businesses get off to a good start or to expand so that they could be more successful. Their goal is to continue helping local residents invest in their communities by starting their own businesses or growing them to the point at which they can hire more employees. This is a win-win situation for everyone in the area.

These are only a few of the things the Knoxville Area Urban League continues to do for the local communities every day of the year. Their mission is “to be the recognized leader and premier non-profit organization in the greater Knoxville area promoting diversity, economic, and social equity for all”. The league works with African-Americans and many other minorities to help them achieve economic self-reliance and equality. They do this by helping people to thrive, find jobs, buy homes, and start businesses.

Smokies History: Explore the Blount Mansion

September 29, 2017   -   0 comments

Following the Revolutionary War and subsequent secession from English rule, William Blount (one of the signatories on the U.S. Constitution) became Tennessee senator and settled on family property on the banks of the Holston River. Here he built his wife a home from lumber brought in from South Carolina, using nails manufactured in the family nailery located near Tarboro, North Carolina. The windows were glazed using glass brought in from Richmond, Virginia.

No expense was spared to build his wife a “proper” wooden house instead of the log cabins and rough-hewn lumber homes that were common in Knoxville at the time. The original home featured two rooms on the ground floor and a large single sleeping room on the second floor. At some time after 1810, the west wing was added to the main home from an outbuilding that had been pulled from its foundation.

The east wing was added shortly before 1820. During excavation, researchers found the detached kitchen and cooling shed. For years this home served as the governor’s home for a number of Tennessee Governors and the territorial capital while still being used as the Blount family home. Over the course of its life, this house not only housed governors and their families, it would fall into disrepair and become slum housing.

Restoration of Blount Mansion

By the dawn of 1925, the mansion had fallen into such a state of disrepair that B.H. Sprankle, a local developer, put together plans to demolish the home and turn the land into a parking lot for the soon to be finished Andrew Jackson Hotel. This led to the formation and charter of the Blount Mansion Association and a massive publicity campaign led by the Bonnie Kate Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution under the steerage of Mary Boyce Temple and the East Tennessee Historical Society.

By 1930, the Association had raised enough money to buy the home and set about restoring it and turning it into a museum. While the house had an attached kitchen by the time the Association purchased it, the foundation for the original detached kitchen was located. The kitchen was rebuilt using materials that had been part of it originally and used to build the attached kitchen.

Today the Blount Mansion is a Registered National Landmark having been designated as such in 1965 and is the only National Landmark in Knoxville and the oldest museum in Knox County. While it might look like a typical house from the outside, when you step through the front door, it’s like stepping back in history.

You can literally feel the history in the home and if you listen very carefully, you might just hear William Blount discussing the future of Knoxville and the state of Tennessee with members of his government as they worked together to help Tennessee become the 16th state in the newly formed United States of America. Be sure to come prepared to spend several hours touring the house and listening to its history.

Kiwanis Club of Alcoa

September 26, 2017   -   0 comments

Since 1954 the Kiwanis Club of Alcoa has offered its hearts and hands to making the community a better place to live. 74 dedicated members spend time working on community projects such as:

  • Service projects within the community
  • Providing resources to the needy
  • Supporting school service clubs
  • Offering guest speakers to discuss topics or provide entertainment at weekly meetings
  • Kiwanis International Project – Eliminate. This project has as its goal the eradication of maternal/neonatal tetanus in developing countries

With over 600,000 members in over 80 countries, Kiwanis International (to which Kiwanis Club of Alcoa is affiliated) has served children around the globe for over 100 years. It helps make the lives of kids around the world better through local projects and fundraising for children’s needs. In Alcoa, there’s even a satellite club that meets on different days so folks who would like to be Kiwanis members, but who cannot make the regular meetings, can still join in the mission of the club.

You Can Make a Difference in Our Community

Perhaps you have wanted to find a way to make a difference in the community. Whether you are a volunteer who is active in many civic activities, or you are looking for something new and want to help, Kiwanis Club of Alcoa welcomes you to the regular Thursday meetings or the satellite meetings (currently held on the first and third Wednesdays of the month).

Art Hafner, President of Kiwanis Club of Alcoa, welcomes everyone to meetings and service projects in the Alcoa community. Everyone is also welcome to follow the Alcoa club on Facebook and Twitter. Plus all are encouraged to keep up on the Kiwanis Club of Alcoa news. All are invited to help work on the club’s fundraisers, and to discover how far the club has come since it’s beginning, when it had 30 members, to its present 74 members.

How to Learn More About Kiwanis Club of Alcoa

Won’t you consider becoming a Kiwanis Club of Alcoa member? You can help with highway cleanups, help fundraise to provide scholarships, sponsor youth groups and get involved in myriad other activities to benefit children in the local area. Want to know more? Get involved by stopping by one of the club’s Thursday noon meetings at the Knoxville Airport Hilton Hotel, or try one of the satellite club meetings. When you participate in activities that benefit our local youth, everyone wins!

Family Fun in Maryville: Smoky Mountain Skate Center

September 22, 2017   -   0 comments

There is more to family fun in and around Maryville than whitewater rafting and hiking. There is the Smoky Mountain Skate Center located at 2801 East Broadway. This single floor roller skating rink first opened its doors back in 1989 and is open all year long. Locals rate it as the best rink in the area. It’s a great place to spend some quality time with friends and family.

Public Skating for Everyone

The rink offers plenty of open skating sessions at various times throughout the day and week. What you may not realize is that roller skating is an excellent form of exercise while giving you the perfect excuse to get out of the house. Sure, you could go to the gym, but do you really think you’re going to have anywhere near as much fun? Come on in, lace on a pair of skates and get ready to have fun!

Need a Helping Hand?

For those of you who don’t know how to roller skate or have long since forgotten the basics, no worries. The Center has a team of people who love teaching others the joy of roller skating. Each of the instructors is not only an expert in their field but makes the entire learning process fun. Already know how to skate? Why not take the advanced class and learn more about form and technique. Contact the center at (865) 983-7326 to learn more and book your lessons.

Life’s a Party

Looking to do something different the next time you have a birthday party or family event? Why not contact the Smoky Mountain Skate Center? You can book the entire rink along with the rest of the facilities. Party prices are very affordable and can be tailored to meet your needs for almost any size and age group. You do need to book your party at least one week in advance to give the Center time to prepare for it and to make sure no one else has the date and time already booked.

Go Shopping at the Pro Shop

If you need to buy yourself or a member of your family some new roller skating gear or have your current gear repaired, the Pro Shop can help. They offer a wide range of repair and tune-up services along with a full array of products and parts for many different brands of roller skates. You can stop in anytime the rink is open or call ahead to make sure they have the equipment, parts, or services you are interested in.

In an era where the roller skating rink is slowly fading into history, the Smoky Mountain Skate Center is one of the last in the area to keep its doors open. It still provides the same high level of family fun the roller rink has long been known for. The next time you are looking for a little family fun, why not take everyone out for a night of music, snacks, and roller skating?

Explore the Arts in Maryville – Studio 212 Arts

September 19, 2017   -   0 comments

Do you live in Maryville or the surrounding area? Are you looking for something different to do, something creative that you and your whole family can enjoy? Have you had a chance to explore Studio 212 in their new location at 934 E. Broadway? If not, you don’t know what you have been missing out on. Inside the doors, you will find an “Artist Studio that thinks differently.” They offer a range of fun classes and activities for artists of all ages from those who have never picked up a brush to those who have been “arting” all their lives.

For the Kids

At Studio 212 you will find instructors who absolutely love teaching art to kids. The studio offers classes in a variety of media for kids as young as six all the way through teenagers. Save the cotton balls, Chex cereal, macaroni, and popsicle sticks for school. Here kids learn important art skills such as color theory (age appropriate level), lines, shading, and composition.

There are also kids’ clay classes where your younger kids learn to create bowls, cups, and other containers. They learn to glaze and fire their finished works and end up displaying them in an end of course art show.

For Teens

There are drawing classes that include fun things like rubbings, stencils, stamps, transfers, and underpaintings. Along with this, there are teen oil classes where teens learn a variety of paint application techniques, how to create paintings from life, and how to use reference materials in the production of a cohesive painting.

The teen clay program teaches kids the art of throwing on the potter’s wheel. They will learn to center and pull a pot, make cups, bowls, mugs, vases and more that they can take home for the rest of the family.

Who Says the Kids Get to Have All the Fun?

For adults who just want to have fun, there is the Tipsy Brush class. This is perfect for adults of any skill level from those who are picking up a paintbrush for the first time, to those who are highly skilled. Not only do you get to create your own colorful painting, but you get to enjoy your favorite cocktail while doing so.

During the class, an instructor will provide you with simple to follow step by step instructions along with assistance when needed. This class, like all of the classes at Studio 212, includes all of the materials you will need, the only thing you need to bring with you is a couple of good friends or your significant other to share the fun with you.

From fun classes to summer camps for kids, Studio 212 offers an incredible selection of art activities for the entire family. These classes are very popular and fill up fast; be sure to make your reservations early to guarantee your spot and come ready to be creative and have fun!

Get Outdoors in the Smokies: Canoeing & Kayaking Adventures

September 15, 2017   -   0 comments

The Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee have a lot to offer anyone who loves to spend time in the great outdoors. Whether you are into canoeing or kayaking, there are a number of places for you to enjoy along with numerous outfitters and rental companies to help make your dream vacation come true!  Here are a few of the best for you to consider. No matter which of them you decide to try, remember they are very popular so you need to book your reservations as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

Adventures Outdoors Kayak & Bike Rentals

Here you can rent kayaks, paddle boards, canoes, paddle boats, and bikes in Melton Lake Park by the hour, half or full day. No matter what mode of transportation you choose, you and your family are sure to enjoy a day in the sun on the lake. Not only is this a lot of fun, but it is very good for your health and the best part is you don’t need any experience to have a good time.

Wild Water Adventures

Wild Water Adventures may be just the thing if you are looking for something that will get your blood pumping and your heart racing. From canoe and kayak runs down the Pigeon River to zip lines above the forest, there is something here for everyone in the family from ages 4 to 94. Bring the whole family and be prepared to get wet and have the time of your life.

Endless River Adventures

Endless River Adventures offers canoes, kayaks, and whitewater rafting for the adventurous. Ride the churning water on the Nantahala, Ocoee, and Cheoah rivers, go for a lake tour or try your luck at fly fishing. While this might be a smaller company, they make up for it in enthusiasm and dedication to their customers and of course safety.

Nantahala Rafting

If you are looking for the ultimate in whitewater adventure, Nantahala Rafting might be just what you are looking for. They offer rafts, straddle kayaks, and canoes for you to take out on Class II and III rapids on the Nantahala River. The water on the river is controlled by a dam that pulls its water from the depths of the Nantahala Lake. It is released daily and creates a series of fun and challenging rapids for you to enjoy.

River Run Canoe & Tubing

Open later in the season than most of the rental outfits in the area, they offer canoeing and rafting for the least to the most experienced. Like most outfits, the type of water and level of rapids is based on river conditions on any given day. If they are slow on one day, you should plan to come back at a later time as conditions change almost daily.

There are so many ways to enjoy all that this area of Tennessee has to offer. Why not take your family for a gentle raft ride and then grab a canoe or kayak to tackle the rapids? All of these outfitters offer both guided and non-guided tours for those who need a helping hand. Either way, you are sure to have plenty of fun!

Discover the Blues Clubs & Bars in Maryville

September 12, 2017   -   0 comments

The days around Maryville, TN might be for hiking, fishing, kayaking, and enjoying the great outdoors, but once the sun sets, it’s time to enjoy the finer things in life like the local Blues clubs & bars. With several to choose from, it can be hard for a visitor to know which ones to try. Here is a list of the top places you should check out while in town.

Brackins Blues Club

At the top of the list is Brackins Blues Club on Broadway Ave. Here you will find a menu stacked with a wide range of tasty treats for you to enjoy including several handmade burgers, jumbo wings, salads, and more. At least 3 nights a week the club has live Blues bands playing and there are always plenty of local microbrew beers on tap. The food and music are tough to beat and with no cover charge, Brackins is a great place to enjoy a cold beer, plenty of fantastic blues music, and very affordable prices.

Two Doors Down

If you are looking for a great atmosphere and the cheapest beer in town along with different live music just about any night of the week, you need to try Two Doors Down on Broadway Ave. The beer is always ice cold and on any given night you can hear live music that ranges from blues and country to heavy metal. Rated as one of the best bars in Maryville, this is one bar you cannot afford to miss.

The Casual Pint

The Casual Pint is where true beer lovers come to meet. Once inside, the “Beertenders” can pour you an ice-cold glass of beer from the largest selections of beer on tap you can find anywhere in town. The atmosphere is upscale yet at the same time casual and fun. Come in by yourself or bring a few friends and of course a growler or two to take your favorite beer home with you. You can also mix your own six-packs and take a keg to your next party or to stock your kegerator.

The Shed Smokerhouse & Juke Joint

The Shed might seem more like a biker joint, but everyone is welcome to enjoy a meal from their menu of in-house smoked meats. Located right next door to Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson, why not come in and enjoy the best BBQ in the region, catch some live music and then slide next door to take a good look at the latest offerings from one of the oldest motorcycle manufacturers in the U.S.

This is only a small sample of the many wonderful places to grab a meal, a cold beer, and plenty of live music in Maryville. Why not try them all before you leave town, you might be surprised at what you find!

Smokies Shopping Extravaganza! – The Foothills Mall

September 8, 2017   -   0 comments

When you are done hiking the trails, paddling the creeks and whitewater, and enjoying the great outdoors around Maryville, TN, the time has come for a little indoor fun! And what could be more fun than doing a little shopping at the Foothills Mall? Located at 197 Foothills Mall in Maryville, TN, this mall features over 50 stores, restaurants, and businesses for you to enjoy.

Pure Climate Controlled Shopping Bliss!

Whether you come during the hottest part of summer or the coldest days of winter, the Foothills Mall offers a climate controlled oasis from the outside world. Of course, like most malls across the country, you will find the standard anchor stores such as Sears, JCPenney, American Eagle and Belk, but this is not what makes this mall so unique.

It is the high number of “mom and pop” stores owned and operated by locals that make the Foothills Mall such a popular place with locals and visitors alike. Some like Smoky Mountain Coin and Jewelry, Silver World, and Treasures Jewelers offer you an alternative to shopping in the “big box” jewelry stores you can find in any mall in the country.

Here you can buy locally made jewelry both new and old, along with collectible coins and a wide range of local souvenirs that can act as reminders of your trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Items from these stores are also great to take home to share with friends and family.

Something for Everyone

No matter what you are looking for, the Foothills Mall has something for everyone in the family. Why not take the kids to the Air Bounce Party & Play and give them a little time to burn off all that extra energy? There is always the Foothills Laser Tag where everyone can get in on the action or the Bungee Jump for those who love a good adrenaline rush.

Not to be outdone, when everyone gets hungry, there are no less than 8, yes that’s right 8, places you can grab a bite to eat. Among these are a Subway, Chick-fil-A, Cancun Mexican Restaurant, and the Steelroom Healthy Appetite. Just need a little snack? How about Great American Cookies, Pop N Fizz, or Pretzel Time.

After everyone has their food, you can relax in the food court where you can talk about the adventures you and your family have already had or make plans for the ones you have yet to enjoy. No matter what you are looking for, from a new pair of jeans to catching a movie at the AMC Foothills 12, you are sure to find it right here, all in one place. Be sure you take the time to explore the Foothills Mall while you are here, you never know what you might find!


Smokies Adventures – Hiking the Gregory Bald Trail

September 5, 2017   -   0 comments

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the country’s most visited national parks; here you will find an incredible array of wildlife and local plants. All summer long nature is in full bloom from trees and plants to the many creatures like bears who are making the most of the warm weather. The mountains offer cool running streams, whitewater rapids, and breathtaking waterfalls. The best way to see all that this incredible area has to offer is by spending your days hiking trails such as the Gregory Bald Trail.

Getting Started

If you are planning to complete the Gregory Bald Trail in a single day, you will need to get started early in the morning. The trailhead is located a little over 20 miles from Townsend, TN on Forge Creek Road. The good news is that you will not need to register for this hike, it is open to everyone, but you should still register your party with someone you trust.  If you plan to do a little backcountry camping, however, you will still need to pay a fee and book a reservation.

During the summer months, this trail is very busy with people who come here specifically to see the flame azaleas when they are in full bloom. The various hybrids of azaleas to be found on top of Gregory Bald are so impressive that the Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association says the British Museum of Natural History has traveled here just to collect samples.

The azaleas were first reported by William Bartram, a pioneer naturalist, who discovered them in 1776 while he was exploring Cherokee country. In his report, he called them a “Fiery Azalea” and stated that they were “the most gay and brilliant flowering shrub yet known.”

A Tough Hike

The hike along the Gregory Bald Trail to the top where the azaleas grow is not an easy one, but at any given time during the summer, you are likely to find several dozen people standing around looking at the flowers. The earlier you can get started in the morning, the fewer people you are likely to find on the trail or at the top.

However, if you are not an experienced hiker, you may find the climb to the top a bit strenuous, but the view along the way is nothing short of spectacular. It is 5.75 miles from the trailhead to the top of Gregory Bald or 11.5 miles round trip, be sure to pack plenty of water and snacks along with you. During the summer months, you should use plenty of sunblock to prevent sunburn as you climb up the trail.

The best time to hike the Gregory Bald Trail is in June when the azaleas are in full bloom. However, if you can’t make the trip in June, you can always come here in August when the wild blueberries are ripe and ready to be picked. However, you will find the local bear population also loves blueberries so you will need to be a bit more careful on the trail at this time of year.


There is truly no better way to get the most out of your time in Great Smoky Mountains National Park than by taking the time to hike the many trails throughout the park like the Gregory Bald Trail.


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