Long-time volunteer Lady Ladd and Resident Advocate Ms. Bertha serve up Ms. Ladd famous chef salad. Photo by Vivian Shipe

By Vivian Shipe

KNOXVILLE, TN — The surprise gift came at the end of the Christmas Party for the seniors who live at the Residences at Five Points. It came in the form of a wish come true. Like gifts wrapped in several boxes and layers with each gift more beautiful than the previous one, so was this one.

The unwrapping began with the first gift of a Christmas at Five Points party. As promised, the community came together again and gave the residents, who had been isolated since May, the second party they promised when they came together at Thanksgiving. This time there was so much food, that like the fishes and the loaves in the bible story of Jesus and his disciples feeding the people; instead of two meals, one hot and one cold, there was enough to give those who wanted them, four meals. 

The gift of music returned to the lobby as local DJ Patrick Durham also returned and played the sounds from every decade and once again there was dancing in the lobby and even upstairs as the music flowed upward to the third floor.

Along with the massive amounts of food and drink came a great gift and tradition from Lady Ladd who has taken care of the seniors for seven years. As they came down to get their meals – the seniors were surprised and delighted to see her dishing up her famous chef salad for them as she had done in years past.

Parents dropped off their teens to help, people once again brought tables and cloths and decorations to fix up the lobby. There was a Christmas tree donated and volunteers from the age of 15 and up stopped by to help deliver the food, share a smile and a laugh, and once again, they went door to door, checking on every resident to make sure they were okay.

Before the final gift was revealed, the residents had received all that they could store and yet, still, there was more food. Officer Gordon Gwathney or Officer “G”, with the Knoxville Police Department who watches over the seniors and was at the party volunteered to take the overflow to the houseless and hungry on the streets.

As he and several other volunteers loaded his patrol car with meals, soft drinks, fruits, and ice-cold milk, the residents and those who had fought so hard to get the room open again, learned that a new director had been selected for the locked community room and it would be re-opening the first week of January on a part time basis to meet the needs of the seniors who want their bible study and meeting space back. It also means they will have help with lease recertification and a trusted listening ear for problems and someone to do well checks on them.

This news was the icing on the cake for the residents. The week before, on the order of the CEO, the no visitors’ restrictions were removed and the security issues that had been occurring on the property were promptly addressed by Chief Thomas. In addition, the office now under new management, will be open several hours a day for residents to speak to someone face-to-face about issues instead of having to call for an appointment. CEO Ben Bentley of KCDC who met with Vivian Shipe with I AM The Voice of the Voiceless about these issues, has said he will address the need for a police officer liaison for the property as was requested by the former director of the community room before he retired.

For the residents at Five Points, it was a true gift indeed. The joy and relief showed in thier faces as they moved about the party.

2022 is looking good already.