Who We Are

Ann Marie and Niki in the Seattle woods

Ann-Marie and Niki work at Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences (CSAS). Ann-Marie is the middle and high school librarian, and Niki is an English/Journalism/Theatre teacher. Soon after Niki started at CSAS she ran into Ann-Marie while doing outreach on 11th Street, the hub of all things homeless. Niki was there with a group of students passing out supplies to those in need and Ann-Marie was volunteering at the Community Kitchen with the On My Own 2 Feet and Wheels program, a homeless running and biking program. After that day, we knew our paths intersected for a reason, and as the saying goes, “Two are better than one.”

We started brainstorming how we could fill the gaps that we were seeing when it comes to servicing Chattanooga’s homeless community. We decided to develop a mobile service that would deliver survival support to the area’s camps, and we would supply: food, water, tents, tarps, solar lights, sleeping bags, firewood, toiletries, etc. About a year into our work, we began working with Causeway, a social justice idea incubator, who helped us focus our goals and vision. We started by visiting the camps and doing outreach on the streets. One of our missions has always been that we don’t want to ask people (the homeless) to come see us; we are intent and content to go to them; to forge relationships and instill in them that we see them as members of our community, not as unimportant problems to merely be dealt with. Our hope has always been that by offering these services to the most vulnerable citizens, empathy for and engagement with them will evolve from other sectors of the population.

During our first year as a 501c3, we partnered with the Homeless Healthcare Center, became a finalist for Causeway’s Changemaker of the Year 2019, made a short documentary about the homeless crisis in Chattanooga, and were nominated for the Call to Action award by the Red Cross. Help Right Here was picking up speed just as the homeless crisis and lack of affordable housing in Chattanooga were rapidly increasing.

Currently, the city of Chattanooga has one of the fastest increasing rent rates in the nation, and that, along with the closing of several low-income facilities, is creating a phenomenal spike in the number of homeless people. As long as rents soar and gentrification continues to happen in town, the homeless population will continue to increase. This crisis has opened our eyes, and our future goals have expanded.

Through our outreach and developing relationships with the underprivileged, we realized that we needed to do more to help our clients survive while on the streets and thrive when they get housing and get off the streets. As of now, we provide outreach on the streets, at camps, and help people who have received housing to get their places furnished. Additionally, during COVID, we started a program called Artists in Transition. Artists in Transition is a group of local homeless or recently homeless Chattanoogans along with local photographer, Amy McKay, and WanderLinger Art Gallery curator, Rik Hermann. They come together in the camps to paint, sketch, and photograph. Their art raises funds for the artists themselves. So far, Artists in Transition has had two art shows at WanderLinger with the next one set for October of this year.

While we are, for the most part, able to sustain our present needs through donations of goods and small monetary donations, our vision for the future will require much more support. First and foremost, this summer we want to provide a water station on 11th Street. This will provide accessible, clean water (#1 thing a homeless person needs every day) and aid in eliminating trash in the city. In the future, we want to have an office that holds all of our donations (our storage unit is full as well as our garages/attics and cars), continue to do outreach on the streets, camps, and supply those who have housing with furniture and basic needs. We also want to be able to provide job hunting, coaching, resume writing, interview skills, house calls to those who are moving into housing and off the streets, classes that offer people with a creative outlet and some income, and lastly, we want to start up and manage a restoration encampment for homeless people.

In order to fulfill our end goal of managing a restoration encampment, we would like to research first hand, organizations that have started homeless encampments and have been successful. Seattle and San Francisco have developed encampments that we are interested in modeling here in Chattanooga. Additionally, Los Angeles opened up their first government-run encampment in April 2021; we are also interested in seeing how this encampment is being run. We are able to provide food and part of our housing during these trips; however, we need help with airfare and car rental in order to make quick trips to the cities. While visiting, we plan on interviewing the directors and staff involved in the creation and management of the camps, as well as visit the camps and observe the daily routines. We hope that the information we receive will aid in our long-term vision and help us create a business model for Chattanooga’s first restoration encampment for the homeless population.

Our Board of Directors

Kathleen Pinson, MBA

President

She worked as a sales and marketing professional for several local Chattanooga media outlets for 15+ years, before moving into the global event industry. Her titles include Magazine Sales Director, Exhibitions Sales Manager, and Conference and Event Manager for some of the worlds largest event companies. Currently she is Vice President of Pinson Group International, a business brokerage firm in Chattanooga.

Babs Gresko, M.Ed.

Secretary

She has 47 years experience with the under-privileged. Most recently employed with the Homeless Healthcare Center for 8+ years as a Case Manager.

Brie Stewart

Treasurer

She is an attorney who has been practicing in Chattanooga for 14 years at Spears, Moore, Rebman & Williams, PC, where she is currently a shareholder. She has a varied practice which includes the formation and maintenance of for-profit and 501c3 corporations, including serving as general counsel for nonprofits and charities, providing human resources guidance, and representing for-profit and non-profit entities in various types of litigation. She also provides representation to clients in complex litigation matters. She is a member of the Chattanooga Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association, and the Tennessee Defense Lawyers Association. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Cumberland Trails Conference, a nonprofit organization responsible for building much of Tennessee’s Cumberland Trail.

Arnoldo Moore

He has been the National Public Affairs Specialist at the Social Security Administration for 26 years. He is responsible for maintaining work relationships with national organizations, special interest groups, and other government agencies for the purpose of presenting, explaining, and advocating Social Security’s views, positions and programs; and conversely, to solicit the views, positions, overall reaction to Social Security programs, policies, and initiatives of those organizations, groups and agencies. Prior to working as the National Public Affairs Specialist, he was a Social Insurance Specialist for 14 years and a Financial Advisor for 4+ years.

Dale Hall

He is the Community Kitchen Chaplain and has had multiple positions with various agencies working with the homeless and serving on multiple boards. 

Kathy Long

She is the Program Manager for the Maclellan Shelter for Families which is part of the Community Kitchen. She has been employed by them for 25+ years as a Case Manager for the homeless.

Aaron Yeargan

He was a marine in Afghanistan, worked as an EMT for several years, and was a police officer for 8 years with the Sheriff’s office. Currently, he is the Outreach Case Manager at the Homeless Healthcare Center.