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9:37 p.m. September 22, 2012
Knoxville organization helping hopeless and helpless community members
By Jeaneane Payne

A Knoxville organization is making a difference by helping to restore hopeless and helpless community members in the East Tennessee region regardless of social or economic standing. C.O.N.N.E.C.T Ministries is a hands on networking resource center located in the heart of Knoxville.

keira wyatt
Keira A. Wyatt, Executive Director of CONNECT and David Wyatt, Chairman of the Board of CONNECT.


This non-profit organization uses community resources offered by churches and synagogues, local and state government agencies, the arts and crafts community, local businesses, educational institutions, and health, housing & financial institutions to help one person at a time to establish change and stability in their life. Through these efforts CONNECT's intent is to encourage purpose, cooperation, and accountability between Knoxville's citizens.

"None of us are exempt from unexpected troubles," said Keira Wyatt, Executive Director of CONNECT. "Think about the time that you needed help, guidance, encouragement, understanding or financial resources to survive one more day. This is why our mission is so important in times like these; we just never know what our futures holds."

A unique program was formed by CONNECT to provide comprehensive support services from collaborating agencies that assist in the restoration of men to productive roles in the community and family. The Urban Cowboy Restoration Program is a reentry program that offers a specially designed plan that addresses issues specific to ex-offenders and military veterans will encounter. Upon release from prison or after coming home for their military service, these men are often homeless and have no family support. They also lack education and job skills. Life coaches on staff at CONNECT, along with community volunteers, are available to mentor these men throughout the process of reconnecting them with the community.

keira wyatt
Steve Avon, Urban Cowboy

Donations to the Urban Cowboy Restoration Program can be made online at

CONNECT provides opportunities for members of the community to get job training through a program called Community Construction Resource Training (CCRT). The goal is to develop valuable skills that will increase opportunities for sustainable income in high demand occupations that do not require a college degree.

Wyatt emphasizes that the organization is not afraid to put their hands on you and advocate actively on the behalf of those they are assisting. She says a frequent question asked by people in the community is, "What do you do?" Her response is that they listen to their client's petition then act on that petition with referrals, in house services, resume assistance, job readiness training, consultations, and group support meetings.

CONNECT staff members include trained advocates, mentors, certified mental health first aid assessors and life coaches. They network throughout the community by building relationships that will benefit clients who include rich and poor, ex-felons, homeless, and veterans; Black, Hispanic, Caucasian.

C.O.N.N.E.C.T. Ministries is located at 2340 E. Magnolia Avenue. For more information, you may call 865-851-8005 or email The web site is at Donations to CONNECT can be made at

Published September 22, 2012

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