National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel

History is often set aside as not applicable today, an issue that has plagued the Civil Rights Movement since inception. The National Civil Rights Museum offers visitors a fully immersed experience through multi-sensory and multimedia innovations combined with historical artifacts. The interactive approach allows all aspects of the historical and current Civil Rights Movement to be interpreted and applied to current times.Located in Memphis,The National Civil Rights Museum is one of the nation’s premier heritage and cultural museums. With a mission to share the lessons from the American Civil Rights Movement, the museum continues to shape equality and freedom globally.Established in 1991, the museum is located at the former Lorraine Motel. Purchased by Walter Bailey in 1945 and renamed after his wife Loree, the two-story concrete block motel structure was one of only a few hotels for which African-American travelers could enjoy accommodations during the segregated eras. Guests enjoyed its upscale atmosphere, home-cooked meals, affordable prices and clean environment. Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding were among the many who stayed at the Lorraine during the 1950s and 1960s.Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stayed at the Lorraine Motel many times, especially during t he Memphis sanitation workers strike of 1968. A strike that grew into an important event of the Civil Rights Movement, attracting the attention of the NAACP, the national news media, and Martin Luther King Jr. He first visited the Memphis strike on March 18th, speaking to an audience of thousands at the Mason Temple. On April 3rd, King returned to Memphis and the Mason Temple delivering the “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” address. In a prophetic finale to his speech, King revealed that he was not afraid to die: “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life—longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will… And so I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord ” On Thursday, April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., stepped out onto the balcony of his Lorraine Motel room #306 to attend dinner at a local minister’s home. At 6:01 p.m., he was struck in the face by a single .30-06 bullet fired from a Remington Model 760 rifle. The 39 year old civil rights champion and nobel peace laureate was forever silenced. On April 8th, King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, and the couple’s four small children led a crowd estimated at forty thousand in a silent march through the streets of Memphis to honor the fallen leader and support the cause of the city’s sanitation workers.The National Civil Rights Museum is a complex of museums and historic buildings, most of which are directly associated with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther KingJr. On October 21, 2016, the museum was honored by becoming a Smithsonian Affiliate museum. The National Civil Rights Museum and Lorraine Hotel is a place of history and symbolism for all. Step aboard a vintage bus and hear the Rosa Parks altercation in Montgomery, Alabama or crouch into the hull of a 1700s slave ship to imagine the horrid conditions they endured. The museum collection offers 260 artifacts, more than 40 new films, oral histories, interactive media and external listening posts that guide visitors through five centuries of history. It may be built with bricks and mortar, but the message delivered is enough to change the world, one visitor at a time.

Continue Reading →

Harrah’s Hope Lodge

The American Cancer Society Hope Lodge program provides lodging for cancer patients and their caregivers. It’s a nurturing community that helps patients access the care they need in a homelike environment. Guest share meals, join in evening activities or relax in their own private room.Established in 1970, the Charleston, SC Hope Lodge was the first facility in the country for cancer patients and caregivers. The concept came from Margot Freudenberg, an actively involved volunteer until she was 105, the longest-serving American Cancer Society volunteer.She saw a similar facility while traveling through Australia and New Zealand with President Eisenhower’s People to People Ambassador Program. Today, Hope Lodge are available throughout the United States and Puerto Rico serving patients and caregivers from all over the world.The American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Memphis, which opened in 2010, offers lodging centrally located to area treatment centers. The University of Tennessee Health Science Center donated the land for the three-story facility. Aptly named Harrah’s Hope Lodge as the Caesars Foundation, owners of Harrah’s Entertainment, gifted $2,000,000 as part of their pre-opening capital campaign. Harrah’s founding partnership has continued with annual gifts and sparked a powerful connection with the local Tunica casino employees volunteering more than 500 hours annually.When choosing where to receive cancer treatment, a patient usually decides to stay close to home, however, that is not always possible. Specialized treatment can be far from home and in the situations where travel is necessary, many encounter the inability to afford those expenses. It can be a barrier for receiving the best possible care in their cancer fight, Memphis is home to many cancer specialist not found anywhere else in Tennessee. Prior to the opening in 2010, patients reported avoiding treatment, traveling extensive miles back and forth from home or sleeping in cars while parked at the treatment centers. Those barriers are broken down by the Harrah’s Hope Lodge with a staff committed to providing a nurturing environment for guests 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.The first floor of Harrah’s Hope Lodge features communal dining, kitchens, library and recreational areas, while the second and third floors have a total of 40 suitesfor cancer patients and a guest/caregiver. Located at 718 Union Ave. directly east of Sun Studio providing about 70 patients with a comfortable, welcoming home-away-from- home. But most importantly, Harrah’s Hope Lodge provides camaraderie. Friendships are formed as patients and caregivers take comfort in the knowledge that they’re not alone in their fight against cancer.Support from volunteers and local organizations is critical to the American Cancer Society’s mission of providing free lodging to cancer patients and their caregivers.Visit www.cancer.org to learn more about how to get involved or donate.

Continue Reading →

East Tennessee Foundation’s First Philanthropic Leadership Series Event Tackled the Subject of Opioid Addiction and How Charitable Efforts May Have an Impact

In April 2018, East Tennessee Foundation (ETF) granted local research nonprofit, Three 3, the opportunity to convene a workshop for community leaders and subject matter experts connected to the opioid epidemic in East Tennessee. The goal of the workshop was triple-aimed. The workshop served to better understand contributing factors of the epidemic and to identify opportunities for further cross-sector collaborations at the community level. The second aim was to produce a conceptual diagram that displays a future community network operating from within and on the periphery of the existing opioid epidemic. Understanding the system of interactions at the community level provides a pathway to the third and long-term objective: to identify collaborative interventions that achieve meaningful outcomes for those both directly and indirectly affected by the opioid crisis and inform ETF fund holders.
With the grant, Three 3 was able to conduct a wide review of research articles, media reports and testimonials. Taken together with the inputs from thought leaders at the workshop, Three 3 produced a network diagram that maps various connections between agencies and key players within critical sectors within or adjacent to local communities.
As a result, on October 16, 2018, ETF hosted their first PHILANTHROPIC LEADERSHIP SERIES held exclusively for fund holders entitled Breaking the Cycle of Opioid Addiction. The main objectives of the briefing were to:
Inform community leaders and philanthropists on the benefit of applying a ‘systems approach’ to better understand and solve complex social problems.
Identify and characterize existing collaborative programs or efforts related to substance misuse prevention and recovery in the East Tennessee region.
Explore new interventions (i.e., additional programs or solutions) to strengthen the system.
Dr. Mark McGrail, Director of Addiction Medicine at Cherokee Health Systems, kicked off the day with background on the progressive disease of addiction, which he defines as “a chronic disease with biological, psychological, social, and spiritual manifestations.” Dr. McGrail stated that the path to addiction often involves losing meaningful relationships with friends and family. This path tends to involve feelings of guilt, shame, and self-hatred which further contribute to the cycle of substance misuse. Because of the complex nature of the disease, a person who becomes addicted will likely require long-term ‘wrap-around’ care to reduce the obstacles leading to recovery – further underscoring the benefit of a network or systems approach for addressing the epidemic at the community level with external support. A panel moderated by Brandon Hollingsworth, News Director at WUOT, featured Dr. Robert Pack of East TN State University, Dr. Carole Myers of UT, Knoxville, and Charlene Hipsher and Phillip Martin representing a nonprofit in the Ninth Judicial District called Align9. Panel members shared their challenges and successes spearheading community level collaborative efforts to counteract this epidemic. In addition to her teaching and research roles at UT, Dr. Myers produces Health Connections, a weekly podcast featuring health care topics often related to the opioid epidemic.
She emphasized that the health-care system accounts for roughly 20% of good health outcomes, but that economic policy, housing, transportation, and other community level factors influence the rest. Dr. Pack heads the ETSU Center for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment, which conducts research, trains health professionals, and provides evidence-based clinical care. The center also convenes stakeholders monthly to discuss current efforts and identify opportunities for collaboration. Hipsher and Martin with Align9 have “reached across the aisle” to align local resources to support an individual’s recovery efforts. These resources include support, financial planning/life skills, law enforcement, and the justice system. Martin emphasized that all these resources are critical, but overcoming stigma and productively channeling volunteers’ passion remain top priorities. Dr. Meyers’ and Dr. Pack’s efforts focus on scalable and sustainable solutions, including capacity-building within communities. Dr. Pack closed the panel by noting that preventative measures, such as life skills and parenting training, produce positive outcomes as well. He pointed to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Communities That Care model, a risk and protective factor approach to substance misuse prevention, as a resource.
Lastly, the attendees participated in a facilitated discussion to identify opportunities to support community level efforts related to prevention and recovery. Participants identified increased understanding and destigmatization of addiction as critical factors, as both upstream (prevention) and downstream (recovery) efforts. Creating a hub and spoke system of referrals that includes law enforcement (e.g. drug courts) and improved wraparound services were also priorities. From these discussions, participants generated potential next steps that ETF could take in fostering solutions to the opioid epidemic in East Tennessee.

“East Tennessee Foundation is taking an active role in the effort to tackle the opioid crisis in our community. My colleagues and I at Three 3 are honored to have had the opportunity to collaborate with ETF and others across the region that are addressing this devastating epidemic our communities are burdened with.”
-Bruce Tonn, President, Three 3

Continue Reading →

Dr. Matthew Wilson: Hamilton Eye Institute

In July 2007, a UT Hamilton Eye Institute patient brought the project of raising funds for an American Cancer Society Harrah’s Hope Lodge to the attention of Matthew Wilson, MD, FACS, UTHSC faculty and St. Jude Chair a of Pediatric Oncology. The project had already received major gifts from Harrah’s Entertainment, the UT Health Science Center, but more funds were still needed.Partnering with Terrapin Racing Triathlon Team in Memphis, Dr. Wilson raised funds and increased awareness about the project through the Janus Charity Challenge external link as part of the 2008 Ironman Lake Placid event. Dr. Wilson also canvassed the community, securing additional gifts of funding. Subsequently, Dr. Wilson was awarded the ACHHE Distinguished Service Award, and the fitness room at the Hope Lodge facility was named for Terrapin Racing in honor of Dr. Wilson.Dr. Matthew Wilson, MD, is an Ophthalmology specialist in Memphis, Tennessee. With an unmatched passion for teaching the next generation of physicians and healing all ages, Dr. Wilson is a profile in the best of medicine. Daily it is the care of his patients, guidance for students & fellows, and perseverance in research that make him more than just a doctor, he is a miracle-worker.The UT Hamilton Eye Institute (UTHEI) is the department of ophthalmology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, Tennessee. It serves several key purposes, including clinical care, education, research, and international outreach. It also influences public policy related to eye care.

Continue Reading →

Congratulations McMinn Central

The McMinn Central Farm-To-School program was highlighted in the March 2019 issue of the Tennessee Cattle Business magazine. Thanks to a new program, students in McMinn County schools receiveda special holiday beef lunch proudly produced by its own animal science students. Annette Bryant, McMinn Central High School agriculture teacher and FFA advisor, began raising animals with her classes on the school’s 10- acre farm with the goal of providing show animals for her students. Five years later, they are also providing nutritious beef and pork to school lunches. At the lunch-and-learn events, FFA & 4-H students and local cattle producers were in attendance at all 9 county schools to talk with students about beef and answer their questions. Prior to the lunches, FFA & 4-H student attended a three-hour beef course taught by Mrs. Bryant, with educational materials provided by the Tennessee Beef Industry Council, to prepare them for answering questions. The lunch events were a success, serving beef roast with potatoes and carrots to approximately 4,000 students across the county. Farm to school is taking root across the state of Tennessee, where there are close to 340 school gardens, over 60% of school districts participating in farm to school, and about 20% of the state’s high school agriculture programs growing fresh produce that’s served in school cafeterias.

Continue Reading →

100th Anniversary of the Arcade Restaurant

Situated on the corner of South Main Street and G.E. Patterson is The Arcade Restaurant, a legend since 1919. Speros Zepatos immigrated from Greece to Memphis, founding the restaurant in a small, one story, wood framed building and cooking on pot belly stoves. The 1920’s style architecture seen today was the result of Speros tearing down that wood frame in 1925 and building The Arcade Building, complete with retail stores.
It was the 2nd generation of Zepatos that took the Arcade to the next level in the 1950’s, adapting the fifties style experienced by today’s patrons. With Memphis coming alive in the mid 1960’s, the location became the busiest intersection in the city, so much that policeman were needed 24 hours a day to direct traffic. That excitement changed as businesses left the downtown following the decline of railroad transportation and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., buildings were boarded up as residents headed to the outlining areas of the Memphis. The quiet did not last too long with the arrival of the most famous Memphis resident, ELVIS, who fell in love with The Arcade Restaurant, even was a regular patron for breakfast and lunch. Today, you can indulge yourself by sitting in the honorary “Elvis booth” as you
fill the tummy with his favorite sandwich, a peanut butter and banana masterpiece. The
King of Rock and Roll boosted the business turning The Arcade into a tourist destination.
Throughout the decades, The Arcade Restaurant survived it all, becoming a historical landmark. It’s a trip back in time, something that attracted Hollywood movie studios as scenes from Mystery Train, Great Balls of Fire, The Client, The Firm, Walk the Line and too many others to name, were filmed in the restaurant.
The family has given great care to preserve the old-time charm while presenting favorable menu options from the classic breakfast to “The Memphis Thang”, a smoked turkey sandwich complimented by tasty creole mustard to “Memphis Fire”, a homemade pizza with spicy marinara. Every menu item, every bite delights and the atmosphere makes everything taste better.
There is a lot of history between the walls, stories from every booth, amazing food from the kitchen and traditions continue today by the 3rd generation of Zepatos. Right outside the front door is the national historic marker which honors the family who committed to the City of Memphis, continuing to positively impact the South Main Historic District. On the Bicentennial of Memphis is only fitting to wish Happy 100th Birthday to The Arcade Restaurant, the oldest restaurant and famous Memphis landmark.
The Arcade Restaurant is located at 540 S. Main Street in Memphis, Tennessee

Continue Reading →

Boys & Girls Club of Ocoee Region: What A Difference A Year Has Made

Last year, the Board of Directors for Boys & Girls Clubs of the Monroe Area made the decision to form a strategic alliance with Boys & Girls Clubs of the Ocoee Region. On January 1, 2018 the Monroe Area Clubs became Boys & Girls Club of the Ocoee Region – Monroe County Units, representing the northern operations (Bradley, Meigs, and Polk County units are part of the southern operations). The goal of this merger was to strengthen both organizations through consolidation of operations, and allow them to expand staff opportunities. The primary objective is, and always has been, to focus on better serving the kids through our region.So what have we accomplished thus far in the Monroe Units? Across all Club units, our average daily attendance for September was 319 kids served. This represents an increase of over 70% over this same time last year. This increase is attributed to our tremendous staff, volunteers, our increased community partnerships, and reduced fee structure for after-school and summer programs. In fact, the Vonore and Teen Center Units have reached their capacity! The Board of Directors are exploring options to expand capacity so as to allow our Clubs to serve more kids in both after-school and summer programs.In addition to better serving our community, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Ocoee Region – Monroe County Units have turned a part-time position at the Sweetwater Unit into a full-time position. A full-time Unit Director was added for Vonore and the Madisonville Teen Center hired an Assistant Unit Director. Staci Dean, Director of Northern Operations stated, “You can feel the excitement in the air at all our units. We are truly motivated to create an environment of fun and learning for all our kids.” Beyond added staff, the Monroe units improved its technology capabilities at all Club locations and is currently implementing more programs that make attendance at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Ocoee Region more fun, more educational, and more responsive to our kids’ challenging school requirements.The stated goal of Boys & Girls Clubs has always been to serve more kids. The Monroe Unit Board Chairman, Joe Crabtree stated, “The merger has made a positive impact in our ability to accomplish the mission of better serving our kids and has made perfect business sense.”  As we continue to grow, as part of the overall Boys & Girls Clubs of the Ocoee Region, we want to thank businesses, community partners, and all who have contributed to the Monroe units for the tremendous support you have provided.We are so excited about the future of serving our youth in this region. We will continue to deliver programs that provide them with the tools for academic success, specialized educational programs, leadership growth, and character development. Our aim is to continue to equip our kids with the essentials necessary to make wise life choices and promote healthy lifestyles.

Continue Reading →

Cyclorama

In the last decades of the 19th century, massive paintings, 360-degree renderings of war toured America. Originally intended as tribute to the Union Victory in the Civil War, the popular cycloramas were about making money just like most films of today. Each tour stop lasted about a year or two before moving to another round building to bring in new crowds. The paintings were not created to last long and eventually were privately purchased or discarded.

The July 22,1864 Battle of Atlanta was painted to cyclorama by the American Panorama Company, debuting in 1886 to the public at a Minneapolis cyclorama. The unique fact to this particular painting was not promoted until 1892 when the tour ended in Atlanta. After a few adjustments to the painting, it was promoted as the “Only Confederate Victory ever Painted.” The adjustment of frightened rebel prisoners repainted to fleeing Union soldiers worked, it was a great success.

That success lead to a permanent placement for the Battle of Atlanta cyclorama in 1921 at Grant Park. A 3-D effect was achieved in the 1930s with replica cannons, railroad tracks and plaster soldiers built between the painting and viewing platform. At the 1939 premiere of “Gone with the Wind,” Clark Gable visited Grant Park, after which a Rhett Butler figurine was added to the diorama, it was rumored to be at his request.

After 97 years at Grant Park, the aging building and needed expansion for the Atlanta Zoo brought the Battle of Atlanta cyclorama to a February 2018 moving day. The preparation for this immense move began in 2016 with conservators going inch by inch over the 42 foot, 359 in circumference foot painting. Twin 45 foot mechanical scrolls were assembled so the painting could be rolled, taking four days to completely roll and secure for move. Two holes were opened on the Grant Park building roof, followed by large cranes lifting and placing the scrolls onto flatbed trucks. The two trucks with the covered scrolls traveled by night on an undisclosed route to the Atlanta History Center.

With the 12 mile journey from Grant Park to the Atlanta History Center complete, the Battle of Atlanta has found a permanent, custom built 23,000 sq.ft home in the Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker Cyclorama Building. The custom design allowed for the restoration of nearly 8 feet of sky, 6 feet of a battle scene and other deleted pieces of artwork. The exhibits presented include context about the battles for Atlanta, the Civil War and history of cycloramas. Multiple perspectives interpret the painting as a single battle and a national battle with a country divided by war, including the impacts on American history. Patrons view from 15 feet above ground on a platform to see the entire painting at once. In addition, new exhibits and “behind the scenes” tours are available for better understanding and enjoyment of this history. The experience is enhanced with the placement of the restored 1856 Texas locomotive at the museum entrance.

The Texas, a famed locomotive that played a pivotal role in the 1862s Great Locomotive Chase has been on display with the Battle of Atlanta cyclorama since 1927. It also required a move and restoration, which was managed by the North Carolina Transportation Museum. The Texas is one of only two surviving Western & Atlantic locomotives, originally built in 1856 with continual upgrades throughout its life of service. The restoration date chosen was 1886, the same year of the Battle of Atlanta cyclorama being painted. It can be viewed in a glass-enclosed exhibit at the front of the museum building, visible at all hours. It the winter of 2018, the Texas, will open to the public with exhibition tours highlighting the nearly 51 years of service on the Western & Atlantic Railroad in Georgia, running between Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Preservation of history is important as growth and development change the landscapes of life. Originally produced to make money, the Battle of Atlanta made its way to the very place it depicts with a story behind the artwork that larger in life, an historical treasure reminding us that significant events happen. With amazing engineering and care, history was moved making it easier to view, understand and enjoy.

The Atlanta History Center is located in the Buckhead area of Atlanta. The 33-acre experience features award-winning exhibitions, historic houses, enchanting gardens, interactive activities and year-round programs for every age. The Atlanta History Museum is located at 130 West Paces Ferry Road, NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30305. Visit www.atlantahistorycenter.com or call 404-814-4000 for more information.

Continue Reading →

Bill Lee: Cattle Farmer, Businessman, Father and Grandfather, and Seventh Generation Tennessean

Bill Lee has always had a heart for serving others. At one point in his life, he even believed he was destined to become a missionary…until a wise man told him that perhaps the best place for him to serve, for him to make a difference, was right at home in his family business. As a result of this advice, Bill poured his heart and soul into not only his business, but also his family and his community, always with the intent of making life better for those around him. His strength of character is truly remarkable given the hardships he and his family have endured – a strength of character powered by his faith in God. Bill was born and raised in Franklin, Tennessee, the son of a son of a farmer. His grandfather only had about a third-grade education, but Bill’s father and uncle went off to Vanderbilt, got degrees and came back home to start Lee Refrigeration Company. Being the older brother, his dad ran the business, and it began to take off from a small mom and pop company to something far bigger. Things were going fine for Bill, who also went off to college before coming home to join the family business. He met the first love of his life, Carol Ann, while backpacking in Yellowstone National Park. They married and had four children – Jessica, Jacob, Caleb and Sarah Kate. On a family vacation back to Yellowstone to share the land of their youth with their kids, Bill recalls experiencing the best day of his life. The day was filled with family fun and adventure and culminated with a chance to view one of Bill’s favorite animals – mountain goats.On that journey, Carol Ann remembered a passage about mountain goats from the Book of Job, which Bill jokingly admits is not a book of the Bible he reads very often. Job, a good and faithful servant of God, is beset by numerous tragedies to test his faith. When Job asks God, “Why me?” God responds and says, “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me…Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?” (Job 38:3; Job 39:1, NIV)Bill had no idea this passage spoken to him on the best day of his life would soon help him get through the worst day of his life.A few weeks after their family vacation, Bill was driving home from work. Lee Company was growing exponentially, his oldest daughter was off on a mission trip and, on this particular day, he pulled into the family farm to the sight of his twin boys playing as four-year-old Sarah Kate and his wife rode off on a horse. Bill honked and waved at them, never expecting his life was about to change forever.Shortly thereafter, he found his young daughter wandering alone in a field. There had been an accident. The horse had thrown both riders, and while Sarah Kate escaped unharmed, Carol Ann was badly injured. Bill describes the experience as being like having a glass vase drop to the pavement – you look at it, and you know you can never put it back together again. Later, as he sat at the hospital with her in a coma, he pulled out his Bible and turned to the same passage she’d read to him only weeks prior and thought, “God is the same on the worst day of my life as on the best day. Only my circumstances have changed.” He did not understand it or like it, but he knew there were lessons learned and insight gained from hardships and that they would only serve to strengthen him.One of these lessons Bill learned at Carol Ann’s gravesite. He was sitting there as the marble marker with her name on it was installed and wondered to himself what she would say if she were there with him. He knew immediately she would say there are only two things in the world that mattered to her – that she knew Him, and that anybody else in the world knows Him because of her. Bill walked out of the cemetery revitalized and knowing he needed to apply this principle to the rest of his life, no matter what might come.Bill took a break from his company to focus on being a single dad, but tragedy was far from over. One day, his oldest daughter drove home from school in the middle of the day, took a gun and shot herself in the head. Bill found himself traveling down the same road to the same hospital where his wife had died, the helicopter carrying his daughter flying overhead, and he had no idea if she would survive.Thankfully, his daughter did survive, and what could have been another great tragedy actually helped mend holes in their relationship. In fact, Bill is pleased to say he has a remarkable relationship with all his children – not in spite of the struggles they faced, but because of them.Bill eventually returned to the family company, making tough choices and through staunch determination, he repositioned the Lee Company for success to where they now have over 1,200 employees.In addition to running a successful business and 1,000-acre cattle ranch, Bill has also been heavily involved in the community. He has mentored at-risk youth through YCAP and inmates through the Men of Valor prison ministry, and he has seen how good leadership is so desperately needed in education, criminal justice and workforce reform. Though our state has had powerfully great people to lead it in the past, Bill truly feels that Tennessee can be not just a great state but a leader in the nation. All we need is the right man at the helm.This is where Bill hopes his heart for serving others can someday soon serve the State of Tennessee. Just like the greatest leader of all, Jesus Christ, he believes what we need is someone to serve our state. Someone with not only the proven leadership skills, but the heart and hope to take Tennessee to better places. When tragedy repeatedly struck Bill’s life, he could have shaken his fist up at heaven or given up, but instead, his heart and hope only grew. Now, he is not only a successful businessman and doting father and grandfather, but he found his second great love in his wife, Maria.On the RV Bill and Maria recently took on the campaign trail, hitting 95 counties in 95 days, they printed Psalm 71:14 – “As for me, I will always have hope.” Bill’s never-ending hope and devoted reliance on his faith have helped him persevere through hardships some of us could never imagine, but it has also forged him into exactly the sort of leader who can not only bring hope, but spread hope, throughout Tennessee.

Continue Reading →

The Lily Pad Boutique – Celebrating 40th Anniversary

Nearly every town has an “icon” – the one business that has been around for so long, everyone knows about it. In Sweetwater, The Lily Pad Boutique is an icon 40 years in the making, poised to make its way into the annals of history as a pillar of women’s fashion.

The Lily Pad Boutique began in 1978 when Brenda Bryan decided she wanted to start a business that would allow her the flexibility to work while her children were at school. Upon recognizing a need in the area for better ladies’ wear, she set up shop in the lobby of a hotel off of newly constructed I-75. As the years progressed, her client base grew. She moved to a strip mall on Highway 68 before later buying the current building in downtown Sweetwater.

At the heart of The Lily Pad has always been Brenda’s passion for merchandising and fashion. She truly cares about creating a unique experience for every customer. This focus on the customer is reflected in the store itself, which features large dressing rooms, a coffee bar and even a seating area for friends (or husbands) to lounge.

Offering a customer-centric experience is not the only reason The Lily Pad has enjoyed so many years of success. According to Brenda, “At The Lily Pad, we are constantly striving to become more diverse and offer services our customers want and love.” One example would be Renee, their on-staff makeup artist. She has more than 30 years in the cosmetic industry both nationally and internationally. She came to the Lily Pad five years ago to launch her own makeup line and also does closet organization and personal wardrobing. Renee is available by appointment to share her extensive knowledge and expertise.

Another service the staff at The Lily Pad loves providing is Facetiming with customers. They will actually walk you through the store, showing you whatever you’re in the market for, and then pack up your “Lily Pad Fix-in-a-Box” and ship it to you. If there’s anything you don’t like upon arrival, just return it!

The Lily Pad’s broad collections of ladies’ attire range in size from x-small through plus sizes, so there is something for every size and every age. Their goal has always been that if three generations come shopping together, everyone can leave with fashions that are age appropriate.

Don’t miss your chance to enjoy this Sweetwater icon – stop by The Lily Pad today, and see what 40 years of fashion-minded experience can do for your wardrobe!

Continue Reading →