A miracle two decades in the making

By Ken Leinart

Miracle Ridge.
To really understand the importance of the “Hallelujah” moment that created Miracle Ridge, you have to go back some 22 years.
Hand Up For Women started in 2002 with a simple goal and has kept true to that: to help women who have, for whatever reason, whatever circumstance, found themselves in a sort of cycle that does not offer opportunity.
In a situation where hope and a future have a hard time existing, HUFW teaches self-reliance. Real-world knowledge is taught through the classroom and by mentors; some mentors have graduated HUFW and have been where those they are mentoring have been.
They understand what it takes to break out of the cycle and they understand how that can be achieved.
So, what is this all about? Why is this so significant? Why is this ribbon cutting so special?
Hand Up for Women started in a church just off Broadway, “In a really small space,” Executive Director of HUFW Eva Pierce said. “But it kept growing and kept growing.”
The women who attended came from group homes, rehabilitation centers and through the Knox County Court system.
From that cramped space in a church, HUFW moved into a home, thanks to a donor who helped them with the mortgage.
For seven years the work centered there.
Then, four months ago, an anonymous donor showed HUFW the North Knoxville property that is now Miracle Ridge.
“When the donor found this property I looked at the price tag and went, ‘Ha ha ha.’ Just couldn’t look at it after that and went back and said, ‘Oh well.’”
But then the donor told Pierce the property was purchased for HUFW. It was also announced the previous HUFW center had been purchased (and re-sold), clearing the way for a clean transfer. The only thing the anonymous donor asked was that the $400,000-plus difference be paid back with a no-interest loan “when funds became available.”
“This organization has never been in debt,” Pierce said. “Never been in debt, so we will not do any more renovation or development until that is paid off.”
The new 3.5-acre site offers room for growth and with the success of the program comes more demand for its outreach.
“We have a special relationship with the Knox County Courts,” Pierce said. The success of HUFW has stretched beyond Knox County. “We have a relationship with the court in Campbell County,” she said.
HUFW also has “self-referrals.”
Pierce said, “Our graduates are our best ambassadors. They’ll see or meet someone and say, ‘Hey you, you need to come do what I did.’”
Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs attended the ribbon cutting and open house Friday afternoon and addressed the importance and need of HUFW.
“The dedication in empowering women the tools to succeed is inspiring,” he said. “This new location will improve the work they’re doing and will allow even more support to those who need it the most.”