Big BBQ Bash returns with delicious competition

The Helen Ross McNabb Foundation is excited to bring the Big BBQ Bash back to Founder’s Square in historic downtown Maryville on June 25 and 26. The professional barbeque cook-off fundraiser was established as a legacy project by the Leadership Blount Class of 2007 and this marks its seventh year as a Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) sanctioned competition.

Since its inception, the Big BBQ Bash has raised more than $200,000 and all proceeds from the 2021 competition will benefit the McNabb Center’s military services.

KCBS sanctions barbecue and grilling contests across the U.S. and advocates barbecue as America’s cuisine. Additionally, KCBS has a vast Certified Barbecue Judging program. KCBS is the largest association of barbecue lovers in the world. 

The Big BBQ Bash draws more than 30 teams from across the country to compete for $10,000 in cash and prizes, and of course, bragging rights. Categories include pulled pork, ribs, brisket and chicken. Former governor Bill Haslam proclaimed the Big BBQ Bash as a state championship, making the competition a qualifier for the American Royal Barbecue Cook-Off and Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue.

Teams can choose to sell their award-winning barbecue or save it all for the competition. If teams elect to sell, barbecue will be available for purchase on Friday evening and midday Saturday. 

To register a barbecue team or for sponsorship information, please visit the event website, or contact Lindsay Hughes at (865) 329-9031 or

The Big BBQ Bash is a part of Summer on Broadway, a two-day festival with food and activities for the whole family. Admission is free to the public and more information about Summer on Broadway can be found at

The McNabb Center is the region’s leading nonprofit provider of mental health, substance use, social and victim services. By focusing on an individual’s “Well Mind, Well Being,” we provide a quality and compassionate approach to care from infancy through adulthood. Since 1948, the Center has proudly served individuals with the most needs and fewest resources. Today, the McNabb Center delivers support tomore than 30,000 people throughout East Tennessee each year. For more information, visit or call 1-800-255-9711.

Helen Ross McNabb Foundation launches campaign to increase substance use treatment in Knoxville

(Knoxville, Tenn.) The Helen Ross McNabb Foundation is excited to launch a $2.35 million capital campaign that will bring additional much-needed substance use treatment beds to the Knoxville area. 

“This is an important initiative for our community,” said Ted Flickinger and Richard Maples, campaign co-chairs. “By increasing capacity and providing greater access to affordable care, we can save lives in the community.”

The demand for access to affordable, medically monitored detox and residential substance use treatment continues to grow in Knoxville. In 2020, Knox County saw more than 370 suspected drug overdose deaths, which was a nearly 30 percent increase from the prior year.

The Foundation’s capital campaign will expand and refresh the McNabb Center’s CenterPointe program, which offers residential addiction and detox treatment services. In FY2020, CenterPointe served nearly 1,500 individuals; however, there is a constant waitlist for treatment and the need far surpasses the Center’s current capacity.

The Helen Ross McNabb Foundation has raised $2 million toward it’s $2.35 million goal. The project is supported by contributions from The University of Tennessee Medical Center, The Boyd Foundation, Knox County and numerous community donors. 

To contribute to the CenterPointe expansion campaign, visit and select “CenterPointe Facility Expansion.”

“We are thankful for the McNabb Center and its commitment to serving individuals who suffer from addiction. The Helen Ross McNabb Foundation’s CenterPointe project provides additional access to address this critical challenge in our community. Together, we can provide a path to recovery and a happier and more productive life.” – The Boyd Foundation

“As the numbers continue to rise for those in our community facing substance use disorders, the need is tremendous for additional treatment options and to provide affordable, accessible care,” said Joe Landsman, president and CEO of The University of Tennessee Medical Center. “At The University of Tennessee Medical Center, we’re proud to join the Helen Ross McNabb Foundation in focusing on the expansion of services for individuals in our community who struggle with addiction.”

About Helen Ross McNabb Foundation

Since its founding in 1972, the Helen Ross McNabb Foundation has worked diligently to support the work of the McNabb Center. In addition to providing leadership and direction, the Foundation’s staff and volunteer board actively raises, holds and invests funds on behalf of the Center. Funds raised by the Foundation over the past nearly 50 years have contributed greatly toward the stability and growth of the Center. For more information, visit or call 865-541-6684.

Helen Ross McNabb Foundation hosts fourth Scenic City Sporting Clays Tournament to “Pull!” for a Good Cause

(CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.) The Helen Ross McNabb Foundation invites the community to support the 2021 Scenic City Sporting Clays Tournament on Friday, April 16, at Benton Sporting Clays in Charleston, Tenn. 

The tournament, which still has team and sponsorship opportunities available, marks the fourth fundraising event specifically focused on supporting mental health, substance use and social services provided by the McNabb Center in the Greater Chattanooga Area. 

“We are pleased to continue to expand available services in the Greater Chattanooga Area,” said Jerry Vagnier, McNabb Center president and CEO. “The Scenic City Sporting Clays Tournament will allow the Center to serve more people and contribute to the continued growth of the McNabb Center’s services in the region.”

This year’s tournament features a 9 a.m. flight and 1 p.m. flight. The cost for a four-person team is $600 and includes lunch, door prizes, a goody bag, an event shirt and the use of a golf cart. Prizes will be awarded to the three highest scoring teams in each flight using the Lewis Handicapping System. Team opportunities are currently available for both flights.

The Scenic City Sporting Clays Tournament is sponsored by Vulcan Materials and Grain Craft.

For more information about team and sponsorship opportunities, please call Martin Hussey at (423) 290-6499 or visit

The McNabb Center is the region’s leading nonprofit provider of mental health, substance use, social and victim services. By focusing on an individual’s “Well Mind, Well Being,” we provide a quality and compassionate approach to care from infancy through adulthood. Since 1948, the Center has proudly served individuals with the most needs and fewest resources. Today, the McNabb Center delivers support to more than 30,000 people throughout East Tennessee each year. For more information, visit or call 1-800-255-9711.

McNabb Center celebrates groundbreaking on Mineral Springs Manor

(KNOXVILLE, Tenn.) The McNabb Center celebrated the groundbreaking of Mineral Springs Manor today. Mineral Springs Manor is a 50-unit rental housing complex, providing much-needed low-income housing to senior citizens in the Knoxville area. 

This unique housing program will offer independent living to seniors experiencing issues with the aging process. It can offer supportive services that help seniors retain their independence and maintain their safety. 

This nearly $8 million project is possible because of the financial support of Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation, the Helen Ross McNabb Foundation, the City of Knoxville, Knox County, Federal Home Loan Bank-Cincinnati, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency and numerous private donors.

“Knoxville is in need of housing options for low-income senior citizens,” said Jerry Vagnier, McNabb Center president and CEO. “We are excited to begin construction on this project and work to address that need in our community.”

The McNabb Center is the region’s leading nonprofit provider of mental health, substance use, social and victim services. By focusing on an individual’s “Well Mind, Well Being,” we provide a quality and compassionate approach to care from infancy through adulthood. Since 1948, the Center has proudly served individuals with the most needs and fewest resources. Today, the McNabb Center delivers support to more than 30,000 people throughout East Tennessee each year. For more information, visit or call 1-800-255-9711.

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McNabb Center’s Dear Santa program seeking donations

Each year the McNabb Center provides more than 2,300 children and families with holiday gifts and experiences through its Dear Santa program, presented by Discovery, Inc. 

Last year, of those 2,300 children more than 1,000 received Christmas gifts from a wish list as part of the Dear Santa Program. Children in need, who are clients of the McNabb Center, and their siblings, have the opportunity to fill out their wish list for Santa. The lists include toys as well as basic needs. Community individuals, businesses and civic organizations then have the ability to shop for a specific child or family.  

“We are seeing a greater need this holiday season,” said Rebecca McKnight, McNabb Center’s public relations and communications coordinator. “Many of the children and families we serve have been impacted by COVID-19, and many of the families we serve have the greatest needs and fewest resources.”

As of early November, the Dear Santa Program has more than 150 children ages birth through 18 years old still in need of a sponsor. The McNabb Center is working to fill lists daily and is seeking to match all children with a sponsor by Friday, Nov. 20. 

“We rely heavily on the generosity of our community and the spirit of giving,” said McKnight. “These donated gifts help us serve as many children as possible and help the children and families we serve experience the joy of the holiday season.”

Gifts for sponsored wish lists need to be delivered to the McNabb Center Tuesday, Dec. 2 – Friday, Dec. 4. Further drop-off information will be provided to sponsors when they sign up. For information about the Dear Santa program and how to sponsor a child, visit

If you cannot sponsor a child, but still wish to contribute, visit For any additional information, please contact Rebecca McKnight at (865) 329-9176 or

Welcome to the new Foundation website

We are excited to share the new Helen Ross McNabb Foundation website. The McNabb Foundation has grown tremendously since its creation in 1972 and 2019 was a banner year thanks to you all. The Foundation has enjoyed its most successful year to date as it embarked on several ambitious campaigns to meet community needs. Special events set records in both attendance and funds raised and, most importantly, we met new friends to support our cause.

The Foundation campaigns included East Tennessee Military Services, Mineral Springs Manor senior housing and Hamblen County Recovery Housing. Each campaign sought to meet a gap in the continuum of services offered by the Center. 

Three years ago the Foundation raised funds to provide outpatient mental health and substance use treatment to veterans, active-duty military and/or their immediate family members. During this time approximately 400 individuals were served, families were preserved and others were reconciled. We have served veterans with highly trained military veteran mental health professionals; a formula for success that we want to perpetuate for years to come for those who have served our country. 

Our Mineral Springs Manor senior housing campaign was also a tremendous success and will result in the development of 50, one-bedroom, affordable, permanent supportive housing rental units for low-income seniors in Knox County. This $6 million project is a record fundraising campaign for the Foundation.

In Morristown, our very successful Jail to Work program, helping women with criminal involvement and substance use issues, identified safe, affordable, sober housing as a need. Our volunteers rallied to raise funds for a 4-unit, 20-bed apartment development that is now providing critical housing to these women. The positive results are unprecedented with 86% success (getting jobs, paying debts and not returning to jail). Investing in their lives is good for their families and the community.

The special events, including the Spirit Award Dinner, Scenic City Sporting Clays, Big BBQ Bash, Bob Kesling & Bert Bertelkamp Golf Tournament, Russell Biven Clayfest, Knoxville Challenger tennis tournament, the Beth Haynes 12 Days Auction and Dear Santa program, were all wildly successful. The ability to share our story through these events and raise needed funds is priceless.

The Helen Ross McNabb Foundation appreciates the importance of providing care for children who have faced traumatic experiences. The Foundation has supported a Therapeutic Preschool program in Knoxville since 2017 and anticipates completing a fundraising campaign in 2020 to provide a similar service in Chattanooga. A tremendous amount of education and training around Adverse Childhood Experiences has been completed and our staff have the expertise to treat children who have had bad childhood experiences.

These amazing fundraising initiatives and events are only possible because of our volunteers, supporters and donors. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for sharing your time, energy and resources to improve the lives of the people we serve.

Recap 2020 Spring/Summer Events

Bob Kesling and Bert Bertelkamp Golf Tournament 

The seventh annual Bob Kesling and Bert Bertelkamp Golf Tournament held on Monday, July 27, 2020 at Holston Hills Country Club was a great success. Approximately 140 players joined the competition to raise funds for nearly 30,000 children, adults and families in East Tennessee experiencing mental illness, addiction and social challenges. This year’s fundraiser was a huge success and raised more than $85,000 for the Center. 

“This is a great day of golf and a wonderful way to positively impact our community.” – Bob Kesling

Russell Biven Summer Clayfest Tournament

Nearly 300 shooters came out for the 2020 Russell Biven Summer Clayfest Tournament.

The event was held August 7 and 8 at Chilhowee Sportsman’s Club in Maryville and is presented by Cherokee Distributing in memory of Herb Ogle. This year’s tournament exceeded its target and raised over $78,000. WBIR’s Russell Biven hosts the tournament to benefit mental health, addiction and social services provided by Helen Ross McNabb Center in East Tennessee. Russell spent each day speaking with participants and partaking in the day’s activities. 

Dear Santa Christmas in July Toy Drive

Due to COVID-19, the 2020 Christmas in July Toy Drive was adapted to an online format. Participants were encouraged to shop the Center’s Amazon Wishlist and to schedule physical donation dropoffs. This year’s Christmas in July Toy Drive collected 120 items to be used towards the Dear Santa program. 

For more than 20 years, the Center has provided holiday gifts for approximately 2,300 children and adolescents up to 18 years of age through the Dear Santa program. Child clients in need, and their siblings, receive donated gifts from community sponsors. Because many of the children have limited resources, several wish lists consist of basic items like clothing, a winter coat, new shoes and, of course, their Christmas wish for Santa.  

The Christmas in July Toy Drive presented by Discovery, Inc. aims to address this need for children during the holiday season. 

COVID-19 Grant Funding

Across Helen Ross McNabb Center, programs have seen an increased need for personal protective equipment, telehealth supplies and other items to ensure mental health, addiction, social and victim services can continue uninterrupted during the global pandemic. Throughout these trying times, Helen Ross McNabb Center’s mission remains constant; “improving the lives of the people we serve.”

The Center has been able to continue providing quality and compassionate care to clients with the help of a number of generous contributions in the form of COVID relief grants and community donations. 

The Center received nearly $530,000 in COVID-19 funding from a variety of organizations like United Way, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS), Trinity Health Foundation of East Tennessee and the Federal Communications Commission. These dollars off set the cost of equipment for telehealth, allowed for new outreach and funded new clinical services in response to COVID-19. It was an amazing response to help those affected by the pandemic at a local level. 

TDMHSAS COVID relief grant

TDMHSAS provided COVID-19 specific funding to support  the state’s existing crisis services continuum, Behavioral Health Safety Net, and substance abuse treatment and recovery services.  

“While the physical symptoms of the COVID-19 pandemic are visible almost immediately, this outbreak is going to have long-lasting behavioral health impacts that will rise to the surface and need attention in the coming months,” said TDMHSAS Commissioner Marie Williams, LCSW. “This grant will allow the department to expand its services to best respond to the growing needs of Tennesseans.” 

FCC COVID relief grant

On April 2, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission established the COVID-19 Telehealth Program to help make telehealth services readily available to clients who are unable to be seen in person. 

Helen Ross McNabb Center was awarded $249,773 to provide computers, laptops, and other connected devices to provide mental health, addiction, social and victim services via telehealth at 17 sites throughout East Tennessee during the COVID-19 pandemic.                       

United Way Grant 

United Way Worldwide established the COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund on March 17, 2020 to support communities impacted by COVID-19.

Helen Ross McNabb Center has received nearly $70,000 in relief funds from United Way to be used toward telehealth services, the Firm Foundations program, which provides street outreach to assist homeless individuals and families, and personal protective equipment across Knox, Blount and Anderson Counties. 

Trinity Health Foundation Grant 

Trinity Health Foundation of East Tennessee funded urgent needs faced by the Center during the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization provided two $15,000 grants for the Center to use for personal protective equipment, which is essential to the Center’s ability to continuing to serve the community while keeping staff and clients safe. 

Community donations 

As the need for personal protective equipment and other necessary supplies grew so did community support. Helen Ross McNabb Center received an outpouring of community donations in the form of time, physical donations and monetary contributions.

Local businesses, including Mollenhour Gross, Pilot Flying J and Old Forge Distillery provided face masks, sanitizer and other personal protective equipment. Without these generous gifts, our facilities would be unable to continue “improving the lives of the people we serve.”

Amazon Wish List

Helen Ross McNabb Center remains open, continuing to help those with the most need and fewest resources in this time of uncertainty. Like many healthcare organizations, we are facing a shortage of supplies and need your help.

We have created an Amazon Wish List, which includes personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and other essential items for the Center to continue serving individuals in need.

To contribute to our Amazon Wish List, visit