Water Angels has a lot on the plate
By John Disque
In 2002 Stephanie Mitchum heard her calling, and she didn't ignore it. The inspiration to help the homeless and poverty-stricken people of East Tennessee stemmed from her religious beliefs. Once she got out there and saw the truth she couldn't turn her back.
Stephanie explains, "I was a Girl Scout leader of 5 and 6 year old girls. I was teaching them the Girl Scout pledge but didn't want them to just memorize the words. I wanted to teach them what it meant. It was about serving God and helping others. At the end of each meeting we pray for God to direct us and let us know how he can best use us to serve him and help others. It was at a different meeting in downtown Knoxville two weeks later where I found myself at a service that was focused on helping the homeless. I thought, "This is it!" Mitchum admits that it was out of her "comfort zone." It wasn't exactly what she had in mind. At the same time, it was obvious to her what God wanted, and it wasn't her place to negotiate.
She began by distributing bottled water that she and her Girl Scout troop would collect; hence, the name Water Angels. The organization has grown since 2002, and today they do much more than distribute bottled water.
Water Angels has its own food pantry and they provide food, clothes and shelter while passing along the word of Christianity. They have three separate rooms for food, clothing, toiletries, and other supplies so that if anyone needs anything Water Angels is prepared.
Water Angels has its own service for the homeless at 2 pm every Sunday. They get help and support from different pastors in the area who stop in to help out. They also receive a lot of help from local churches who provide lunch.
"On Monday nights at 6 PM, we started a dinner Bible study for men only called, 'Elevate!' This is for the men to come together to encourage other men who are battling addictions and strongholds that need God to lift them out of the pit that they may find themselves in."
You would think all of this would be enough, however, it's only the beginning. Stephanie continues to explain their Bible study on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, which is focused on the seriously addicted people. She is quick to state that she has seen major transformations in people's lives. "We've seen prostitutes, addicts, thieves, and homeless, break free from the spiritual bondage. They are now living in homes, free of addiction, and working productive lives." The program seems to focus on making the adjustment a little bit easier for people while helping them move into apartments, getting a state ID and a social security cards and assisting with items that help the people get back to being a productive member of society.
Two times a month Water Angels holds a Children's outreach called Shining Star in an attempt to break the cycle of homelessness that often runs through generations and families. This program has also shown success. "It's been an amazing thing to see," says Mitchum.
This year on December 12 Water Angels is holding a Christmas service for up to 700+ people. It will be more than just a dinner. They will be offering new toys and shoes for the children and new shoes for the adults. "For some, a pair of work boots or black non skid tennis shoes could mean a new job." This article has just begun to touch the surface. With back to school parties, golf tournaments, an online ministry, and plans to build a playground and basketball court, Water Angels is staying quite busy.
One of the things that I respect about this program is that they post their daily numbers on their website; the amount of donations they took in, how much they need and what the money is being spent on. Although it's required by law for an organization like this to keep their income and expenditures available to the public, it doesn't mean they are always easy to find. Water Angels is different--as if they have nothing to hide.
To volunteer, make a donation or if you or someone you know needs help Water Angels is located at 907 University Avenue. Their phone number is 865-524-5194, and their website is Water Angels
Temp-Published November 20, 2010
Published in East TN News 11/4/2011