Who We Are
We worked together at the Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences (CSAS) in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Ann-Marie was the school librarian and Niki was the English/Theater/Journalism teacher. The library and Niki’s classroom were side by side, but we really didn’t speak until one day just before winter break 2016. Ann-Marie was working with a program called On My Own Two Feet & Wheels and was leaving The Chatt Foundation. Outside she found Niki and her Advisory class on 11th Street distributing care packages.
We realized right then that we had a lot of talking to do.
We started in 2017 with outreach on the streets all over Hamilton County, but especially downtown. We would offer shoes, water, ice, socks, blankets and when we were lucky, someone we knew and had seen our Facebook post and would drop off a tent for someone we’d met on the street.
Niki’s background is in film and TV, so in 2019 we decided to get together an Independent Study with some of our students and create a documentary on homelessness. It was an incredible experience. The film was screened at the 2019 Chattanooga Film Festival. It’s called A Drop in the Bucket.
A Drop in the Bucket really opened our eyes to the lack of housing not only in Chattanooga, but globally. We wanted to do more.
We have nine kids between the two of us, and when we started Help Right Here in 2019, we were both single moms. How much more could we really do? What we realized was that we had a workforce. We drug them everywhere delivering firewood or water. Whatever. They helped put up every tent on the opening day of the 12th & Peeples encampment. They’ve been a huge support for us as we’ve grown.
We formed our 501c3 in 2019 when we took a class hosted by Causeway in Chattanooga. That class was just amazing. We met incredible people and watched as so many people’s passions come to life over those nine weeks.
The pandemic, of course, was crazy but what happened over Covid with the homeless organizations in town was incredible. We rallied together and created a homeless art group called Artists in Transition. They have recently become their own non-profit so they may continue to grow art on 11th Street and in the camps.
In 2021 we received a grant that allowed us the opportunity to travel to Seattle, Washington and meet with organizations there. We saw sanctioned encampments, transitional Villages and permanent, supportive housing.
Shortly after we came back from Seattle, the City of Chattanooga decided to give an encampment a try here. We were thrilled!
It’s been a whirlwind (to put it mildly), but we couldn’t be happier with how the encampment has gone, but also with our trajectory as a non-profit. As of August 2023, we are both working full-time for Help Right Here. With the encampment slated for closing early 2024, we are working full-steam ahead toward helping to create a transitional Village of small shelters in Hamilton County.
Help Right Here Board of Directors
Brie Stewart, J. D.
Ms. Stewart is a Spears, Moore, Rebman & Williams, PC, attorney and shareholder who has practiced in Chattanooga for 14 years. 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, B. A.
Business Administration National Public Affairs Specialist, Social Security Administration
Mr. Moore has served 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.
Jameson Miller, CPA, CISA, CISSP, CCSFP, CHQP
Jameson Miller is a Partner and has been with Mauldin & Jenkins since graduation from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. For nearly 17 years, Jameson has provided information technology audits, loan review, internal and external audit services to public and private organizations throughout the Southeast. Jameson’s experience includes audits of general controls, application controls, and cybersecurity risk management programs. He has extensive experience with Sarbanes Oxley, System and Organization Controls (“SOC”) Examinations, National Automated Clearinghouse Association (“NACHA”) Operating Rules and Guidelines Compliance, and the Gramm Leach Bliley Act (“GLBA”). His technical expertise includes performing penetration testing of information systems using both technical and social engineering techniques.
Jameson maintains current and relevant information technology and financial accounting continuing professional education credits including the AICPA’s Cybersecurity Advisory Services and Blockchain for Accounting and Finance certificates. Jameson is a technology/cybersecurity speaker for several industry relevant conferences. Jameson is a member of the AICPA, the Tennessee Society of Certified Public Accountants (“TSCPA”), ISACA, and ISC2. Jameson is a licensed CPA with the State of Tennessee, a CISA through ISACA, a CISSP through ISC2, a Certified Cybersecurity Framework Practitioner (“CCSFP”) and Certified HITRUST Quality Professional (“CHQP”) through the HITRUST Alliance.
Jameson is an avid outdoor enthusiast and enjoys volunteering as the Board Chair and Treasurer of the Cumberland Trails Conference, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, whose mission is to serve and advocate for the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Park as a scenic foot trail, and to conserve natural resources and promote rational development within the counties surrounding it.
As Executive Director/CEO of the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition from 2004 to 2007, I worked with community agencies to secure funding and develop collaborative networks to help people experiencing homelessness. My work as executive director transitioned into working for three years as Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield’s homelessness consultant until 2010. In that capacity, I brought together community organizations to revise the region’s Blueprint to End Homelessness, I participated in speaking engagements and media interviews, and I organized Chattanooga’s first Project Homeless Connect (PHC) event in 2008 and chaired eight subsequent PHC events through 2018. In 2021, I co-authored a research paper on food and housing security of students attending North Carolina State University. From 2019 to 2022, I hosted a radio program on WUTC that often included interviews to highlight the issue of homelessness (either from an experiential perspective or a support perspective).
Babs Gresko, MSW
Ms. Gresko has 47 years’ experience in case management and other supports for underserved people. She has been a case manager employed with the Homeless Healthcare Center for nearly a decade.
Help Right Here Staff
Ann-Marie Fitzsimmons, B. S. Information Sciences and Niki Keck, M. Ed
Co-Founders and Executive Directors of Help Right Here
As a team, the Directors have extensively researched best practices and models of sheltering the unsheltered, and are preparing to vet the establishment of permanent supportive housing nearby.
They are skilled at resource mining and procurement, collaborative innovation, and program development. Their previous careers as charter school educators have prepared them to respond effectively to a full range of people, conditions, and situations.
They believe in second chances.
Artists in Transition Program Manager, Resident Assistant
Mr. Rankin was a local cook and bartender before falling into homelessness for five years. He and Ann-Marie met when he was in an encampment behind Howard High School. She recruited him and together they started Artists in Transition, a homeless art program. Now he is paid to help around the Sanctioned Encampment and explore art therapy opportunities for its residents.
Mr. Rankin is a visual artist specializing in paint and copper arts. He is one of the founders of the Artists in Transition program. Plans are underway for artist recruitment, online art sales, pop-up art shows, and artist workshops.
Mr. Kaufmann is a native Texan, where he worked at Harmony House, a homeless services nonprofit. Lonnie was one of the first 12th and Peeples graduates. He was the Sanctioned Encampment’s fourth resident. His persistent alcoholism led to his housing loss and almost to his exit from the Encampment. When the Directors told him that he had to “get straight or get out,” he entered treatment and has remained sober.
Both Resident Assistants assist with new resident intake, general Encampment management, and facility and grounds maintenance.
Mr. Rankin and Mr. Kaufmann are members of the Downtown Outreach Alliance.
Through the Alliance, The Homeless Coalition, and others, they are developing a Certified Peer Specialist certification to provide peer outreach support that promotes socialization, recovery, wellness, self-Advocacy and community living skills for unsheltered Chattanoogans.
Our hope is that this certification program will spread to other parts of the state where homelessness is a chronic issue.