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Blount County Unsung Heroes

Story by Emily Robertson with submitted photography

Lilli Teeter Brown
Director, Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center

For Lilli Teeter Brown, growing up as the oldest of seven children, her mother and father were her mentors. Her father served as a high school science teacher and coached football and basketball. He and her mother taught core values that would guide Brown throughout her life.

“My father taught us to always be true to ourselves and others,” Brown says. “My mother was very caring. She was always willing to help people and found the good in everyone. She taught my siblings and I to do the same.”

Her parents were also very active in the community in Alcoa, and now Brown is following in their footsteps as Director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.

“Our mission is to enhance the quality of life in our community by providing diverse recreation and healthy lifestyle opportunities for all ages,” Brown says.

From workout classes to cooking classes, the community center has a bit of something for everyone, and it also serves as a meeting space for anything from after school programs to blood drives. The center employs seven others in addition to Brown, four program assistants and three custodians. Even with a small staff, Brown is proud of the work they are able to accomplish for the community.

“It gives me pleasure serving the community and having programs for all ages from youth to seniors,” Brown says.

Cindy Chandler
Program Director, Isaiah 117 House

As a former teacher, Cindy Chandler has always had a heart for taking care of children and making sure they succeed in life. When she retired from her career in education, she continued her dedication to young people and growing awareness for foster care as Program Coordinator for Isaiah 117 House in Blount County.

Isaiah 117 House provides physical and emotional support for children in a safe and loving home while they wait for a foster care placement. While the organization only has two paid staff, Isaiah 117 House has an executive board that helps support the organization, along with an extremely supportive crew of volunteers and lots of community support.

“We are truly blessed to have a community that walks alongside us as we change the way foster care begins. The best part about my job with Isaiah 117 is loving on the broken and showing them love and dignity when they are a guest in our home.”

Chandler credits so much of how she leads the organization to exceptional mentors she had while she was still in education.

“Kevin Myers and Carol Anne Scarlett were my administrators before I retired from teaching,” Chandler says. “Their leadership has played a big role in how I support our volunteers and caseworkers, and how we build relationships within our organization.”

While Chandler is originally from Shelby, North Carolina, she has called Tennessee home since 1990. She’s been married to her husband, Gary, for 35 years. The couple have two adult daughters and son-in-laws, Elizabeth and Caley West and Kristen and Hayden Cox, and three grandchildren, Cooper, Riley and Boone.

Shannon Dow
Senior Director of Blount County Services, The McNabb Center

A heart for helping local residents to find the mental health care they need is what drives Shannon Dow each day in her work. After moving to East Tennessee from her home in New Orleans, Louisiana, following Hurricane Katrina, Shannon Dow completed her Masters degree in Social Work at the University of Tennessee. Now she serves as Senior Director of Blount Count Services with the McNabb Center, helping provide mental health, substance use and social and victim services to the residents of Blount County.

“In my role at the McNabb Center, I am part of a team that allows me to actively contribute to positive change and make a tangible difference in the lives of the people we serve within the community,” Dow says.

Dow is especially passionate about the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health work group she leads that is working on a service delivery plan to effectively prevent, identify, assess and treat emotional and behavioral disorders in children birth to age five.

Dow says that she has had amazing friends and professional mentors that have helped her in so many aspects of her life, but her own mom is truly her hero.

My mom’s resilience, compassion and selflessness make her someone I truly look up to,” Dow says. “She loved unconditionally and saw the good in everything and everyone around her. I strive every day to be like her.”

And, she lives out the example set by her mom each day by working hard to help the local people of Blount County.

“My wish for Blount County is that all residents have access to quality mental health care that supports the overall well-being of all people so they can have positive experiences throughout life with relationships, school, work and personal growth,” Dow says.

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