In a part of Knoxville that most people may drive by exists the small community of Lonsdale. Full of rich history and diverse cultures, Lonsdale is a golden area for ministry to take place. Deep within Lonsdale is an organization that goes by the name of Thrive. Thrive is a collection of volunteers who gather together for one purpose: to equip others with the Word of God and help people grow spiritually. Thrive focuses on kids from ages of 7 to around 17 and helps them keep up on their grades and learn about who Jesus is.
Thrive has existed for 25 years, but only recently changed its name from Soar Youth Ministries to Thrive.
Clayton Wood, the executive director at Thrive, has been working for Thrive for 4 years now. He first heard about Thrive from a church leader. He was encouraged to volunteer for a while, and this is where the spark came in. After long periods of prayer, Wood finally signed on full-time at Thrive. God made the path clear, and Wood had an entirely new vision for what Thrive could be. Wood believed that kids could come to get to know Jesus in a safe environment with people who had a passion to help.
Since Wood has taken over, the program has doubled.
Thrive has over a hundred repetitive volunteers cycle through the program. The volunteer skills range from being a mentor to simply tutoring a group of middle schooler’s. Thrive goes through daily routines with the kids, such as leading devotionals, having a worship time, and praying. Thrive also has a dinner set-up for the kids during the evening times, to which the kids learn the real value of community and connection.
There are over 2,000 homes in Lonsdale, and the outreach need is beyond measure. Moreover, the need is not only financially, but spiritually as well.
Sarah Foster is a full-time worker at Thrive who started out as a high school volunteer. She started out doing summer interns through Lee University, and the Lord eventually opened up the doors for her to be able to work there.
“I felt like I already connected with Thrive when I started working,” Foster remarks. “It was natural for me.”
Foster says it is a joy for her to share the Word of God, and that she wants to build a friendship with the kids. For Foster, the discipleship is what brings her back every time.
For the K-15 event, there were over 15 Johnson students that drove out to Lonsdale to serve. Tasks ranged from putting down to carpet, mopping, painting, sweeping, attending the church grounds, and wiping down the walls.
No assignment was gone unnoticed when it came to helping at Thrive. The volunteers at Thrive wanted to give off a positive energy to the kids who came at night by providing a safe and clean environment for them to work in.
The K-15 helpers went from 11 in the morning till around 2 in the afternoon. They conversed with the workers there and made it clear that some of them were going to help at Thrive more regularly.
Lexi Overcash, Johnson student and SGA leader for the day, comments on how she got connected to Thrive by saying, “I heard about Thrive through one of my classes. I thought the ministry was awesome, and I wanted to
experience it first-hand.” When asked if she would return, Overcash answered by saying, “Absolutely.”
Dale Hathaway was also a volunteer for the day at Thrive. Hathaway was extremely interested in the program from the beginning. “I plan on getting involved full time here. I actually know a guy who runs the middle school program.” Hathaway was inspired to do more through Thrive, and he has a genuine interest in helping kids.
For more information on how to get involved in Thrive, go online to their website at welovelonsdale.com. You can also contact them by reaching this number: (865) 544-5881