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Labor of Love: What is Childhelp of East Tennessee?

6:11 PM, Dec 3, 2012   |    comments
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The job that Childhelp Children's Center of East Tennessee does each and every day is something many of us cannot imagine.

It's a place where Knox County's physically and sexually abused children can escape the red tape of the justice system and also receive treatment.

"They've been abused, they've been traumatized, and their often scared," said Childhelp Director, Hugh Nystrom.

The outside of the building needs repair, but inside offers an oasis for the abused. Colorful walls, a giant indoor tree, and tons of toys offer the children a welcoming place to share their story.

"It dramatically reduces their stress level," Nystrom said. "We want them to feel safe. We want them to feel like they've come to a place where they're going to be loved."

During the April 27, 2011 storms, Childhelp suffered roof and structural damage to the brick. Childhelp patched the roof, but it was only a temporary fix. Roof repairs showed they need a new roof. They also need to replace bricks.

The Homebuilders Association of Knoxville got wind of the need, and volunteered to take on project. They also plan on sprucing up the exterior with paint and renovating the interior bathrooms.

This Labor of Love is the second project they've taken on. In 2011, they renovated Love Kitchen founders and sisters, Helen Ashe and Ellen Turner.

Childhelp is one stop safe-house. Rather than having the child re-live their trauma over and over, law enforcement, doctors, and therapists come to the child. They typically only have to tell what happened to them once. The interview is recorded and used to collect evidence.

"Many of things that kids come in here to talk about are things that people in the public cannot imagine are happening or don't want to think are happening to kids," said Forensic Interviewer Khadijah Jackson.

From there, children who need a medical exam, don't have to go to the hospital. They conduct the medical exam on site.

When the investigation is complete, children and their families recieve free therapy to begin moving on from the abuse.

By the time their therapy is complete, therapist Megan McCarter Cates said they know that the abuse was not their fault.

"They're going to know who's fault the abuse is, what abuse is, how to be safe in the future, and that nothing they did up to that point led to them being abused," Cates said.

Click here to read previous story on Labor of Love for Childhelp Tennessee.

How you can help


Volunteers are needed for general clean-up and labor beginning They're also looking for experienced electricians to do wiring in the building. Volunteers will be needed starting December 4 and lasting up to two weeks. If you can help, please email (Please include days and times you can help out and a daytime phone number where you can be reached).

Supply Donations

Right now these are the most needed items for roof repairs

•Large tarps
•Contractor bags (huge trash bags available at Lowe's, etc.)
•Eyewear protection
•Dust masks
•Orange vests
Childhelp Wish List

These are some of the things Childhelp Tennessee would like to have to take care of some cosmetic issues in their building.

•Ceiling Tiles
•Windows inside the building
•New Television with built-in DVD player
•Kitchen Counters
To donate the items call the Home Builders Association at (865) 546-4665 x25 or email or visit

How to help Childhelp Tennessee

Right now their most critical need is for Foster and Adoptive Parents. For more information on the organization visit or call (865) 637-1753.


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