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ORNL FCU Announces Winners of $70,000 Community Giveback & Investment Opportunity

Since August 6, 1948, ORNL Federal Credit Union has been a trusted financial cooperative for members, and the East Tennessee community. To celebrate its 70 year history, the Credit Union recently offered its members the opportunity to nominate worthy non-profit organizations to receive one of seven $10,000 grants through a $70,000 Community Giveback & Investment opportunity.

The following organizations were selected to each receive a $10,000 grant:

Blossom Center for Childhood Excellence

By providing a sliding tuition scale based on income, the Oak Ridge-based Blossom Center for Childhood Excellence provides day care, after school care, and pre-school programs for low-income families for children from ages 12 months to 13 years old. Their programs include healthy meals, educational activities including STEM programs, and play time. The center is open each day from 5:00 AM to 1:00 AM to accommodate parents with varying work schedules.

Knoxville Dream Center

For over 27 years, rain or shine, the Knoxville Dream Center (KDC) has assisted the downtown Knoxville homeless community each Wednesday with food, clothing, and medical and dental treatment. Over 250,000 meals are served each year. KDC also hosts free food/grocery trucks at nine low-income areas throughout Knoxville each week.

Knoxville Pays it Forward

Knoxville Pays it Forward provides assistance to individuals or families in the Knoxville area who find themselves in a crisis due to no fault of their own. Programs include household crisis baskets for those who have been devastated by house fires or a loss of income; a diaper and formula donation bank; and a pet food bank to assist seniors on a fixed income with the cost of feeding their pets.

Sertoma Center

The Sertoma Center’s mission is to provide programs and services that will empower adults with intellectual disabilities to achieve their fullest potential and develop vital skills to become active participants in our communities. Their program includes: job placement and coaching, pre-employment training, art therapy, cooking and nutrition, current event discussion, horticulture therapy, daily living skill development, and more. Residential rehabilitation and supported living programs are also offered at the Sertoma Center.

Smoky Mountain Service Dogs

Smoky Mountain Service Dogs enhances the physical and psychological quality of life for wounded Veterans by providing custom-trained mobility assistance service dogs (at no cost to the Veteran). Producing a Smoky Mountain Service Dog requires approximately 1500 to 1800 hours of training, supervised by the organization’s trainers/consultants. Dogs can help wounded Veterans with everything from carrying groceries and fetching wheelchairs to opening doors and dialing 911 in case of an emergency using a “K-9 push-button rescue phone.” Industry cost to train one service dog is estimated to be $20,000 to $25,000.

Sunshine Ambassadors

Sunshine Ambassadors uses their knowledge of individuals with disabilities and some of the mental and physical challenges that some students face to develop choreography techniques that keep in mind balance, focus, sensory, processing, cognitive, and other issues that may delay or hinder a student from regular dance class moves. Their program is designed to serve non-typical students, or those with some sort of disability. Many have Down Syndrome, CP, Epilepsy, or Autism, just to name a few. Students range in age from three to 46. Classes are held each week in various locations in Farragut, Powell, Maryville, Morristown, Dandridge, Lafollette, Maryville, and Fountain City. The program’s goal is to “Enrich the lives of Individuals with Disabilities through Dance.”

Youth Outreach STEM (YO! STEM)

Youth Outreach in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math is a program dedicated to exposing students from underserved communities to the growing STEM world through hands on activities. Some of their projects include 3D design and printing, robotics, coding, and various chemistry projects just to name a few.

For additional information, including the check presentation schedule, please contact Jessica Emert at

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