Bluff City, TN

Impact Center Making an Impact in Bluff City Life

John M. Dabbs

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Impact Community Center - Bluff CityJohn Dabbs/Photographer

The Impact Community Center in Bluff City is making good use of the former Bluff City High School/Bluff City Middle School building after purchase from the Sullivan County Department of Education. The community center is making an impact in the community, bringing new use to the building with close ties to many in the community.

ICC Mission

The Impact Community Center (ICC) is a faith-based organization which seeks to support non-profit groups wich also have a community focus that is based in faith. Their goal is to provide a home for such non-profit organizations to provide opportunities to the people of Bluff City, that will enrich and help grow the community. More information can be found on their website, which is still evolving.

Bluff City Alderman Jeff Broyles took me on a tour of the facility which has seen a remarkable transformation. Broyles, a US Army veteran, was proud to show me the memorial in the front, which is nearly complete. He says there is room for expansion in the future.

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Veterans Memorial - ICCJohn Dabbs/Photographer

Veterans

The DAV (Disabled American Veterans) have an office just inside the front door, in the former administrative offices. Broyles says the DAV were the first group brought into the ICC. They have information tables in the hallway, and a place for veterans and others to hang-out in the hall, or a lounge upstairs.

Broyles said their first visit to the DAV on Carden Hollow Road, had the hollow filled with cars coming into the DAV post on food distribution day for their food pantry. He didn't realize they had such a big need in the community. The DAV offices have now moved to the ICC in Bluff City, along with their food pantry. He says their distribution is still on the first Thursday of each month. While it's open to everyone, their focus is on veterans and meeting their needs.

The DAV has a CSO (Chapter Service Officer) at the facility to answer questions for veterans and their families daily. They provide information and help for obtaining services.

Honor guard

The DAV is working with the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), and others. Broyles says they've moved the honor guard from the Bristol VFW to here. The vehicles, rifles, and associated materials are now operated out of the ICC in Bluff City.

Serving all

The ICC has a full gym, with workout machines purchased from a gym in the Knoxville area. The fitness center takes up the former theater area, which is the old "new classrooms", turned art area - or the building addition at the old bus lot along Kentucky Avenue. The fitness area has a petitioned off area dedicated to women and trainers. They make the facility accessible to firefighters, law enforcement, EMS providers and other first responders to help them out. There is no charge to use the facility.

In the main cooridor along the back wall are two lare conference rooms. Broyles tells me these are available for community and other groups to use. One just needs to contact the ICC to check availability for scheduling to use them.

The schools cafeteria has also been renovated and used for the DAV on food distribution day. The cafeteria is available for community use with advanced scheduling. The facilty's kitchen is intact with the commercial appliances and accessories, just as when it was a functioning school.

Museum

A museum is being planned for the old FFA/Band room building. The working name is "The Scenes of Bluff City Museum." Broyles says the work is ongoing and no plans have been finalized yet, as there is still much work to be done.

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Museum planningJohn Dabbs/Photographer

The current vision is to keep the history of Bluff City and Eastern Sullivan County represented here. The final product will undoubtedly be a tribute to the area which will make residents proud.

Tenants

There are other tenants in the ICC. Besides the DAV on the main floor, you'll also find AAAD ran by Darleen Cunningham. She provides assistance to grandparents raising children. Next to her is Kids to Christ, operated by Jaime Johnson. I was surprised to find the Yoga Studio on the second floor of the main building, other offices for the DAV, and Appalachian Family Outreach (AFO). AFO is an organization helping with people with their adoption process and the costs of adoption. They also provide counseling services to young mothers who are considering putting their child up for adoption.

In the upstairs adjacent to the gymnasium, you'll find the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). The FCA has room for team meetings, worship, and bunkrooms for visiting teams. The bunkrooms can be configured coed and can support up to 50 team members.

Another surprise was the transformation of the old art room above the cafeteria. Stephen McKay has transformed the space with contributions from all over the country - both in money and manpower. The space is now home to the Vessels of Honor Ministry (VOHM). This online ministry is transmitted around the world via Zoom, where it's active in at least 40 countries. VOHM is very welcoming and enjoys reaching out and spreading their message to everyone near and far.

Admission of tenants

Broyles says all tenants are screened by the board when applying for admission at the ICC. It's important that they are non-profit and faith-based. He also says they want to be a help and resource for the community, allowing the city to thrive.

Those who pass muster and are accepted into the ICC have all expenses paid - utilities, internet, and even decorating - by the foundation. It doesn't cost them anything to operate here for the people's benefit. David Laisure is the director for the Bluff City ICC.

Broyles says the ICC has also purchased the old Holston Valley school property and has established that facility as well. Amanda Nelson is the Director of the Holston Valley ICC.

Foundation

Broyles says the foundation was established by Chris Laisure of Business Information Systems in Piney Flats, Tennessee. He is a local Navy veteran and sits as a member of the board. The foundation is run by the ICC Board of Directors.

A coffee shop is being established at the old Kiser building in Bluff City. The "South Fork Coffee Shop" is planned to open on February 1, 2022. All proceeds will go to funding the foundation.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Bristol, TN
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