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Community group that helps at-risk youth is working to rebuild after car slams into their building

The car that crashed into their building was involved in a fatal drag street race, according to authorities.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Safe Haven, a non-profit in East Knoxville that serves people looking to escape the streets, is struggling to find a second chance.

A car slammed into their building recently after a drag street race ended in a fatal crash, forcing everyone inside to get out. Some of those people are still displaced. 

Lawrence Williams, the director of Safe Haven Youth Empowerment, said the group's main focus is to serve and meet young men and families facing hardships. That's why he's committed to finding a new home for them. 

"We want to make sure that we have a place that we can call ours," he said. 

For the last three years, their building on Magnolia Avenue has served as space for kids, families, teenagers and unsheltered people looking for community. Williams is the only person on staff and relies on donations from churches. 

"That's what it's about, serving your community. It's better for the people," he said. "It's bigger than me, bigger than the losses and wins — it's about the other people."

A week since a drag-racing crash destroyed the building they were renting, the program today is still running to meet a need.

"We got to be able to overcome adversity and you can't allow that to stop you," Williams said. 

He said that he sees himself in the young men and families he helps. The community group has started a GoFundMe to help them buy a new house to operate from and welcome more people. 

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