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Monday, June 20, 2016

New Resource to Help End Homelessness in Kingsport


We are so excited to announce that Eastman Credit Union has donated us a HOUSE.

Yes, you read that correctly; We got a house.

We are so thankful, and honored that they see our mission and goals .

The house is located on Steadman Street in Kingsport. We intend to turn this home into an emergency homeless shelter like no other in Kingsport.

Open Doors Kingsport is on Facebook. Make sure to stay tuned over the next few days for a chance to name this home, and a chance to possibly win a gift certificate!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

‘It’s the highlight of their school year’

New Vision Youth celebrate underclassman prom


Community contributor

KINGSPORT — Who says a prom has to be during the school year?
Members of Kingsport’s New Vision Youth say, “Not so fast.” Their recent prom was a rousing success, even though school has already let out for the summer!

For 15 years now, the New Vision Youth headed by Johnnie Mae Swagerty, has been giving the youth of Kingsport the same kind of prom that upper classmen get at area high schools, except this one is summer-friendly.
Swagerty and her New Vision Youth parents and chaperones hold two separate proms on the same day, one for children ages 4 through 12, and another one for older students, ages 13 through 17.

“Many of the kids don’t get to go to proms,” Swagerty said. “They don’t get to experience the feeling of going to prom, dressing up and showing off to their friends. Even in their casual clothes, they can come here and have a good time, eat some good food, dance to the music and above all, have fun.
“For many of them, it’s the highlight of their school year.”

The New Vision Youth prom had its humble beginnings in 2001 in the cafeteria of the Head Start facility in the old V.O. Dobbins Community Center, the old Douglass High School. As the event caught on, the next one was held in the old Boys and Girls Club in the former Riverview Apartments on Booker Street. From there, it moved to the banquet room at the Elks Lodge and the old 229 Club on Lincoln Street (now Martin Luther King Drive). Then for several years it moved back and forth between the Kingsport Renaissance Center and the Civic Auditorium.

This year, it was held in a formally decorated Douglass Community Room in the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex.

“The spirit of the prom has followed us wherever we’d held it,” Swagerty said. “We do it from the heart, and the graduates who have attended over the years still talk about how much fun they had.”

The highlight of each and every prom is the crowning of the royalty. In the smaller children category, 12-year-old Isiah Dukes, a sixth-grader at John Sevier Middle School, was chosen prince of the prom. Seven-year-old Anna Fields, a second-grader at Central Heights Elementary, was selected princess.

Among the older students, 14-year-old Ayona Barlow, a ninth-grader at Dobyns-Bennett, was crowned queen of the 2016 New Vision Youth Prom. The honor of king of the prom went to 14-yearold Jaquan Thomas, also a ninth-grader at D-B.

There were other winners, too. Kids who found a card under their chairs were given gift cards to a local restaurant. ... Others were picked as winners in the dance competitions. Everyone was judged on how much fun they were having, how courteous they were to their friends, and how mannerly they interacted with others. That’s a strict requirement with Swagerty.

“This year, we had 25 kids in the younger category and 12 among the older children, and they were well-behaved,” said Swagerty. “As a group, we insist on that. They are taught that to be in the New Vision Youth group, they have to respect each other and treat their friends the way they would want to be treated. Respect is something they can take with them the rest of their lives.”

As the New Vision Youth prom seemingly gets bigger every year, Swagerty and the parents who support the program welcome new participants.

“Whether it’s 40 kids, a dozen, even one or two kids ... in this program, we will always have a prom for them.”


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Reunion of the Ages Announcement and Recent Gospel Songfest Event


The Reunion of the Ages get-together is rapidly approaching!

The mission of the Reunion of the Ages is to preserve, hnor and delebrate the history and the heritage of former black educational institutions in the Morristown-Hamblen County area, in conjunction with present and future needs of the community.

The event will be held on July 28-31, 2016. Registration and more information are available at the event website:

The host hotel is the Mainstay Suites, 410 Pine Mountain Road, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee 37863. Phone number 1-888-428-8350.


Contact Walter Evans, 423-586-3957 or Talmar Bryan, 423-736-8482 if you have questions.

Recently, the Reunion of the Ages held its annual Gospel Songfest at the Jefferson Middle School in Jefferson City, Tennessee.

Below are pictures and videos of some of the featured songs at the musical concert.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Douglass School Commencement (Final)


Congratulations to my good friends and former school mates at Douglass High School in Kingsport, TN. Today, the class of 1966 celebrates our 50th graduation anniversary.

-- Don Hickman

Editor's Note:  This was the last commencement at Douglass High School, Kingsport.  The school closed for integration shortly after this commencement in June, 1966.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

New Vision Youth to hold 15th Youth Prom

KINGSPORT — New Vision Youth will hold its 15th annual Youth Prom, Saturday in the V.O. Dobbins Center Douglass Room, at 301 Louis St.

The prom for children ages 4 to 12 will be held from 4-6:30 p.m., and the prom for teens ages 13 to 18 will be held from 7-10 p.m.

The free, chaperoned event is open to all children in the Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia area.
New Vision Youth’s Johnnie Mae Swagerty said attendees don’t need to wear formal prom attire, “Sunday best will be fine.” A prince and princess will be crowned in the 4-12 age category, and the winners will receive a pink sash and trophy.
A king and queen will be crowned in the 13-18 age category, with the winners receiving a purple sash and trophy.

Music will be provided by DJ Smiles, free refreshments will be served and photographs will be made.

Individuals who would like to donate cookies, chips or Capri Sun for the event can bring those items to the V.O. Dobbins Center this week between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The event is being sponsored by New Vision Youth in partnership with South Central Kingsport Community Development, the Kingsport Parks and Recreation Department and Bays Mountain Park.

For more information about the event, contact Swagerty at (423) 429-7553.