Treetop has existed in Knoxville for close to three months now, but it’s been an underground existence. We’ve knocked out our permits, gotten familiar with the Knox Health Department, applied for and acquired more licenses than we know what to do with, and had more coffee than a human should (most likely) consume on a daily basis. Our truck is in the final stages of being built - In fact, we’ll head to Houston, Texas next week for a final (and emphatic) sign off. From there, it’ll be shipped to our storage facility in Knoxville, and then it’s serve baby serve.
You can imagine our excitement in knowing that things are in motion, and that we’re inching our way to being open for business on the streets of Knoxville. Just typing that sentence makes us want to do backflips. But as this time of preparation and paperwork comes to a close, we can’t help but look at the strides we’ve made in the important thing — the cause. These strides weren’t made without help. We’re still floored at how similar the heartbeat of many organizations in Knoxville is to our own. Allow us to explain.
We met a woman through our church named Kristin Miller. An adoptive mom with adopted siblings herself, Kristin met us with a smile and kindness to tell us about her ministry, KAFCAM (Knox Area Foster Care and Adoption Ministries). KAFCAM is a, “regional alliance composed of local churches, agencies, ministries, and community advocates. They encourage, equip, and connect for the purpose of serving foster and adoptive children and families in the Knoxville area.” Translation: they’re a bunch of rockstars. We’ve learned a ton about foster and adoption in the Knoxville area through them, and have had the privilege of attending a few of their events. Through KAFCAM we’ve met men and women that work in the Department of Child Services, parents looking into foster and adoption, leaders of organizations that advocate for children in the foster and adoption process, people interested in how to support and love on affected families — the list goes on. KAFCAM has showed us that an army of advocates exists and is fighting for kids and families affected by foster care and adoption in the Knoxville Area. Kristin invited us into their ranks, and we can’t wait to link arms and go to work.
In December, we went to a breakfast hosted by the East Tennessee Council on Children and Youth. There, we met Keith Bailey and Rachael Ellis, members of the leadership team for Harmony Family Center. Through programs like trauma counseling, family camps, and PAWS for kids, Harmony Family Center works to ensure that kids are loved and “living their best lives.” As they build awareness of the effects of trauma and increase the treatment of the children and families touched by it, they significantly impact the health of our communities across the state of Tennessee. Rachael told us the stories of children and families HFC has helped, and we listened with genuine amazement. Partnership with them has opened our eyes (yet again) to the unique ability a group of dedicated people has to make a difference in Knoxville and surrounding areas.
These are just two examples of like minded people that are eager to dig in and get to work. We could go on and on about people that have been interested in Treetop’s story and met us with encouragement when we tell it. We’d kill a significant amount of time telling you about the many families we’ve met that have eagerly given us advice about where to park the truck in town. Knoxville hasn’t just welcomed Treetop with open arms — it has shared a few secrets, spurred us on, and reminded us that there is work to be done. Let’s get to it.