Good Neighbors is a 501 (c) (3) community ministry. Our mission is to help lift our Blount County neighbors out of a temporary crisis. Good Neighbors provides resources to maintain and/or increase the ability of our neighbors to cope with the challenges of everyday life. We do this in an atmosphere of love and respect, building partnerships through which Christ’s love can grow and by advocating for social justice within Blount County. Good Neighbors is funded by local area churches, individuals, BCEAC, United Way and other civic groups.
Good Neighbors provides support through:
● Listening and problem solving with our neighbors: Many times, a person is able to solve his or her own problem if given the support to do so. Neighbors meet one-on-one with a volunteer coach to assess their situation and possible solutions. Neighbors are always encouraged and supported in their efforts to seek training and education to make a lasting difference.
● Referrals to and networking with other agencies in Blount County, which can be a very difficult and confusing system to navigate alone: GN provides information and encouragement needed by our neighbors to improve their situation. GN is able to advocate to help our neighbors get their needs met.
● Limited financial assistance: When appropriate GN may assist with partial payment of past due bills for life’s basic needs (utilities, rent, etc.)
● Creating a plan for success with each neighbor to help them move toward self sufficiency.
● Follow-up calls to neighbors 2 to 3 months after each visit to check on progress and offer additional resources when helpful.
Good Neighbors was founded in 1996 as a result of an increase in requests for emergency assistance from neighbors in need to local area churches. These churches decided to pool their resources so that they might make a greater impact on those they were serving.
Many times, neighbors are referred to our organization through partnering churches. These churches realize that their office staff might not be able to take the time to work with individuals to fully address their needs, and they trust Good Neighbors with the task. These churches often support the work of Good Neighbors with donations from their church budgets.
Whether referred from a church or from another source, the first step is for our neighbors to call the office to make an appointment. Messages that are received from days the office is closed are promptly returned by our office volunteers. Neighbors are given an appointment and directions to the office. An office volunteer calls the neighbor to remind them of their appointment the last working day prior to their appointment.
Once they arrive, Neighbors are greeted by the staff and then are asked to fill out an intake form. A trained coach meets individually with the neighbor to discuss their needs. The coach and neighbor work together to create a plan for resolution of their unique situation. This plan can include referring the neighbor to other support agencies, working with third parties (such as landlords and utility companies) on payment plans, and providing monetary assistance.
Once the neighbor meets their plan, they then call the office to report their progress. At this point, the Good Neighbors office contacts the appropriate party to make a payment on behalf of the neighbor when applicable. The office works directly with third parties and does not pay the neighbor directly.
Two to three months after the Good Neighbors office and the neighbor have completed a plan, a volunteer makes a follow-up call to check in and offer other non-financial resources if they are needed. A neighbor may return 6 months after their first visit, and 12 months after subsequent visits with a maximum of 5 financial assists from the Good Neighbors office.
Lisa R. Blackwood
Good Neighbors Executive Director
- Marc Archer
- Kim Chaney-Bay
- Diana Curtis
- Sandra Davis
- Linda Dilgard
- Jeff Hutchison
- Joe Schrock
- Rev. Dennis VanCuren
- Matt Webb
- Ruth White
- Dan Young