Community Chest Click link for more info All Garments $1.00, or Less
Community Chest-Knoxville is a not-for-profit clothing and small household items shop serving all, but focusing service to those in distressed situations and to those with low incomes. Located Inside Northwest FISH Hospitality Pantry/food warehouse facility: 122 W. Scott Ave.
Knoxville, TN 37917
(Half block off Central Avenue) Phone: 971-4417 Open: Monday thru Saturday
10 AM - 5 PM
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About MOSAIC and
WOMEN'S COMMUNITY SCHOOL

Fish Hospitality Pantries
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Our three Knoxville pantries continue to be places where people come not only to be fed in body but in spirit. Our pantries are not only unlike other food pantries-they are unlike anywhere else in Knoxville. The opportunity for diverse people to interact, to learn from one another, to become friends, is unparalleled. Where else could a young English woman from a privileged family, who is beginning graduate school in religious leadership have the opportunity to work with a Guatemalan woman of African, Cuban, and Mayan descent who taught the children of incarcerated prisoners in the Northeast before migrating South? Where else could native East Tennessee women share stories with Eastern European immigrants like Laura who spent her early school years behind the Iron Curtain in Romania? These represent only a few of the women of mixed income, ethnic, and geographic roots who participate in our Women's Community School and learn from one another.

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We have moved forward on our community programs and our programs have strengthened and solidified the core pantry. As pantry volunteers and program leaders better understand varying cultures and leaders develop stronger abilities to work together, their understanding affects all people who come into the pantry.

At Hospitality Pantries we seek to be a place where people from different backgrounds and heritages are transformed by being in relationship with one another. We create a model of community that allows people to grow, learn, and enjoy the best about one another--to overcome differences that tend to separate us--a community based on compassion and justice for all people. And in that spirit we are offering programs like the Women’s Community School and the Mosaic Initiative.

MOSAIC

Mosaic, a multi-cultural leaders’ initiative which is taking place at the Northwest Pantry, focuses on relational empowerment, building an understanding among our Latino, African-American and Anglo leaders (many of whom are low-income) that together we can better respond to problems like hunger. We have learned that community building does not end with getting people together. We have found that the diversity of our participants—economic, racial, denominational—can lead to frictions, misperceptions, and misunderstandings. It takes time and work to build such a trust as we want in our environment, but it is work worth doing. So we developed Mosaic, a six month dialogue where we explore themes on the construct of race and how that has been used for many years to oppress minorities, and the connection between race and poverty. Participants (sixteen men and women) receive day-to-day training in the pantry, increasing their own skills and capacity for working together. They participate in monthly meetings which include reflection on their common humanity and communication around aspects of their own cultures. They are working with other pantry leadership to design a seminar on undoing racism/diversity appreciation for use with FISH participating congregations and in trainings for new pantry volunteers. They will participate in the implementation of the diversity training as well. The Mosaic dialogue has demonstrated to us some ways to begin to bridge the gulf between race and class in our community. We have witnessed tremendous growth in our pantry volunteers as they have developed openness to others through their trainings and “undoing racism” workshops, built a collaborative spirit, and strengthened pantry leadership.
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Participants in Mosaic, our multi-cultural Leaders' Initiative, are better equipped to combat racism and prejudice with more strength and unity. Overall, our volunteers are much more sensitized to the struggles of the immigrant population. They also have a greater understanding of the history of the construct of race and how that has been used to oppress and marginalize, and to disenfranchise the poor and minorities. Although racial tensions occasionally flare up and challenge us, we use those incidents as motivation to go even deeper as a community that tries to lift up the value of diversity.

WOMEN'S COMMUNITY SCHOOL

Our Community School is a six-month process in which a mix of people explore concepts on the “whys” of hunger and poverty and participate in training to learn how to work across lines to help transform their community. Participants reflect on such themes as power and powerlessness and how that underpins poverty in a community. They analyze “the world as it is,” contrasting it with a vision of “the world as it could be,” and explore strategies to move toward a more just, compassionate, and equitable community. Although the community school agenda includes some training in aspects of community organizing, its overall theme is “leadership development.” Participants emerge with a stronger commitment to their community as well as with an understanding of how to act together to make a positive impact on the community. We launched the first Community School (Companions for the Journey toward Equity and Justice) in 2008, with a dozen women from a mix of backgrounds: Latina, African-American, Indian, and Anglo. During the Community School process participants develop innate leadership abilities and discover their own power to act in their communities and to explore opportunities available to improving their lives. They also gain a stronger sense of their neighborhoods and how they can join with their neighbors to improve them. Finally, the process forges stronger relationships between diverse people across our Knoxville community.
As a way of putting some of the concepts we’ve been exploring around working in the community into practice, we’ve developed a field work piece with an historic African American neighborhood. This field work offers training for participants and residents and a venue in which to work for real change. Through our community conversations more people are becoming engaged and knowledgeable about hunger and poverty issues in the neighborhood. And the inhabitants of the neighborhood where we are doing our field piece have a stronger voice in what happens in their own neighborhood, and are developing their leadership abilities and their capability to act in the public arena and advocate for themselves.
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Specifically, the women in this year's Women's Community School continue to develop into leaders not only in the pantry but in the world around them, and they see themselves this way. Discovering new abilities within themselves and equipped with an understanding of the world as it is and as it could be, they are excited to contribute to change their communities.

COMMUNITY BUILDING AND EMPOWERMENT

Our projects are really about bridging the gulfs between race and class that exist in our community. Although both of these initiatives have leadership development component, the Community School is geared toward training women to work in the community while Mosaic's focus in on dispelling the misperceptions that make it difficult for people to work together. We believe that our projects serve an important function that is not really available elsewhere in the community. We believe the learned experience transfers to the communities in which participants live. Testimony by our participants supports this belief. One Mosaic and Community School participant tells us how the sharing of stories through Mosaic has helped her to bond with her sister and brother volunteers in a new way. She adds that her developing leadership in the pantry and the trainings she is receiving through Mosaic and the Women's Community School have uncovered abilities in herself that she never knew she had. Another pantry volunteer, a retired scientist, active in the Mosaic Initiative and in one of our supporting church congregations, says that he filters everything he reads and hears through his Mosaic experience, demonstrating the profound understanding of the other that he has embraced.

FISH 5-4-3


Did you know that:
  • When you give $5
  • A Famliy of 4
  • Can Eat for 3 Days

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FISH Hospitality Pantries

FISH Gift Cards

FISH GIft Cards are a great way to honor family and friends and feed hungry families at the same time.

Your family and friends will receive an attractive Gift Card telling them how many families you have fed in their name. Click here for more information.

Your gift of $10 will feed TWO families for three days.