ONLY ON WVLT: Home for the Holidays

By: Stacy McCloud
By: Stacy McCloud

Knoxville (WVLT) - Most everyone has something to be thankful for today, but for one Knoxville man, it's something he hasn't had in nearly 25 years.

Volunteer TV's Stacy McCloud introduces you to a man who, thanks to several local agencies, is finally home for the holidays.

Watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade on his own TV holds a special meaning for Charles Crippen.

On this Thanksgiving he has many reasons to be thankful, considering that for the past 14 years, he's had very little to call his own.

"I was out on the streets, using drugs, dealing drugs and my life just went down and I hit bottom," he says.

To make matters worse about two years ago he became bound to a wheelchair after an incident on the streets.

"One thing lead to another and I was shot, but life goes on."

Having a record of drug use didn't make it easy to move on, but Crippen was persistent and in a few months he went from not knowing where he would be one day, to having his own place the next.

"I feel really blessed to be living right now," Crippen says.

Thanks to programs like Volunteer Ministries there are many others just like Crippen finally in their first home for Thanksgiving, and with some new programs in place, organizers hope some of the 1300 still on the streets here in Knoxville will by Christmas finally have a home for the holidays.

"I know there is hope alive because of the numbers of homeless been placed just this year," says Jerry Cooley, from Volunteer Ministries.

A hope that organizers want to see in the eyes of those where Crippen says he'll never be again.

"A few being able to move on and have the hope of getting into places is just a catalyst for the others to say Crippen did it, I can too," Cooley says.

The new approach Volunteer Ministries is using is its "housing first" initiative.

The goal is to get people into housing first, then wrap as many services they can around them to keep them there.


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