Knoxville’s virtual ‘Cup of Hope’ to aid domestic violence victims

By: David Ibata

The Salvation Army in Knoxville, Tennessee, was all set for its seventh annual “Cup of Hope” luncheon to raise funds to support the Joy D. Baker Center’s work with victims of domestic violence. The coronavirus, though, had other plans.

As with fundraisers everywhere this fall, Knoxville opted to go virtual – but not just on a single day. It is enlisting people to be hosts of small groups, inviting friends and family to their homes and businesses any day Oct. 4-11.

“Because of COVID-19, we had to get creative in how to provide a way for the event’s loyal following to participate, while adhering to the constraints and unpredictability of venue, changing social distancing requirements, and people’s discomfort gathering in a large group,” said Noreen Norton, development director for The Salvation Army Knoxville Area Command.

Domestic violence is a problem greater than many realize, impacting one in four individuals in their lifetimes. Besides providing meals and shelter, the Joy D. Baker Center offers specialized counseling, life skills classes and job placement. Currently, 28 women and children are staying there.

“The Salvation Army in Knoxville offers hope to families in crisis,” said Major Sarah Nelson, area commander. “The Joy D. Baker Center provides a safe place for families to regain their confidence, set healthy goals for the future and ultimately move forward from a painful past. In a word, it’s all about restoration.”

The original purpose of the Cup of Hope luncheon was to honor women who had gone through the program and recognize the significant challenges they had overcome, Norton said. “It didn’t take long for those attending to want to help, and it became a wonderful fundraising event.”

Last year, 175 people turned out. This year, the format is a hybrid: small groups; or if so desired, individuals, can view a Cup of Hope video in their own homes without social interaction. “In all cases, we provide a package of materials, a thank-you gift for the host, and a link to the event video,” Norton said.

The video, produced by Eli Silva and his crew at G-Labs, explains the severity of the domestic violence problem and the work of the Joy D. Baker Center, and it concludes with a mother-daughter testimony of restoration – and a call for support.

Last year’s Cup of Hope raised just under $40,000 and netted $31,000. It’s difficult to say what this year’s gatherings might generate, but the Knoxville Command has set a target of 20 small groups throughout the city with 100 to 200 total participants.

“We would be thrilled to meet last year’s revenue and will thank God for his provision, no matter how great or small that may be,” Norton said.