March is a Month for Fresh Starts

The beginning of spring can be a good time to start anew! If you’ve set a goal for yourself in the past and have fallen short of that goal, the start of spring can be your reason for a fresh start!

A Twisted Success!

Creative Compassion teamed up with the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) and City Fire to host a very unique event on February 25th. With a sponsorship from Crossville Leisure Services, we hosted a movie night at the historic Palace Theatre in downtown Crossville that featured the movie Twister! The movie is based on a group of storm chasers in pursuit of solving the many mysteries surrounding tornadoes.

The movie was shown on the final day of severe weather awareness week. The main purpose was to bring attention to severe weather awareness and remind folks of what they need to do to prepare for the spring storm season. The peak of severe weather season comes in March, April, and May.

Cumberland County EMA Director Travis Cole was on hand to answer any questions folks had for him. He was joined by City Fire and Creative Compassion’s own Deputy Director and local meteorologist Mark Baldwin.

The movie was a roaring success! The theatre was almost filled to capacity and the concessions broke a record for the Palace! I guess there’s something about twisters that makes a movie-goer hungry!

Tickets were only $5 and the Palace had a concessions special called the F-5 that got a movie-goer candy, popcorn, and a drink for only $5.

Money from ticket sales will be used to buy weather radios for low-income folks. A form is available through Creative Compassion for anyone who would like to apply for one of those radios.

The weather radio most recommended by meteorologists is the Midland NOAA Weather Radio. That company graciously sent us five free weather radios to add to the ones that we’ll be able to purchase from tickets sales from the movie.

The movie was so successful that about three dozen weather radios will be given out to those who apply and qualify!

If you or someone you know are low-income and would like to apply for a weather radio, please visit and look for the “weather radio campaign application.”

The movie began with welcoming remarks from EMA, City Fire, and Creative’s Meteorologist Mark. (Photo: Sarah Halcott)

Ask Creative!

Creative asked board member and Upper Cumberland Federal Credit Union president Denise Cooper to share some advice for our readers who may be considering repairing or remodeling their current home or considering the purchase of a new home. Denise has some sound advice that we would be wise to follow!

Repairs or Remodeling: “Always check with friends, family, local social media groups, and co-workers for referrals and recommendations before committing to a repair company. Always get a detailed written contract for the price and quality of materials for repairs. This can save a lot of heartache in the future if there are disagreements in the quality of work or material.”

Buying a home: “Work with a lender to find out how much you qualify for a monthly loan payment.  Just because you qualify does not mean you want to spend that much every month for a loan payment, insurance, maintenance, and taxes. Consider saving that monthly amount for 6 to 12 months before making a purchase. This will acclimate you to not having that cash available for other needs and wants. At the end of that time you will have more funds for the down payment or for furniture and/or appliances.”  

If you have a question that you would like us to answer just let us know! Send those questions to!

Creative Compassion Cares

In the month of February, Creative met the needs of four applicants for our RUPA program! Those four households had a total of nine residents. The RUPA program assists local residents who need a helping hand with rent, mortgage, or utility bill assistance.

A partnership with Cumberland Fellowship, St Alphonsus, and Good Samaritans allows us to help even more people. We are so very proud of this partnership and the work our partners are doing for our community!

At least one of those individuals was a local Veteran who had fallen behind on a utility bill. Creative was able to assist them in getting their water turned back on and caught up on that utility bill.

A Patriotic 5K for the Veterans

Money from this 5K will go toward helping local Veterans avoid homelessness. Proceeds from this race will allow Creative to help with home repairs and other housing assistance that intends to keep Veterans comfortable and safe in their homes.

The soaring cost of rental deposits can also be a barrier to housing, especially for low-income Veterans, and we aim to help with that with funds from this chip-timed race. We owe our Veterans more than we can ever repay, but we can help them when they need a hand. Thank you for wanting to be a part of Creative Compassion’s mission!  

This race will be a unique red, white, and blue color walk/run! So, be prepared to leave the race looking quite patriotic! We’ll have snacks, music, and more! Come on out and join us. It’s sure to be a good time for a great cause!

Please help us spread the word! Registration is underway for the first ever Creative Compassion Stars and Stripes Color 5K to benefit Veterans! That registration can be found at

Creative Volunteer Opportunities

If you would like to volunteer to help out with the Stars & Stripes Color Run 5K, just reach out to Mark at We have several opportunities that we can share with you if you are interested!

Creative Honors

This month Creative would like to honor the emergency services and Volunteer Electric folks across the plateau. They all worked tirelessly on Friday, March 3, when strong winds swept across the plateau. Numerous trees and powerlines were downed, and some structures were even damaged. We are grateful to those who devote their lives to keeping us safe. We’re also grateful to all the linemen who worked so hard to restore electricity across the region in the aftermath of those winds.

From the bottom of our hearts, we say thank you!

Creative Kitchen Tip 

Are you looking for a new way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the family? Try creating a fun St Patrick’s charcuterie board! With St. Patty’s Day coming on a Friday, it’s a good excuse to create a sweet charcuterie board of all sorts of festive treats. Be sure to make it green and encourage the kids to help you figure out what to put on the board. Half the fun can be seeing what you create as a family!

Creative’s Recipe of the Month

If you’re looking for an Irish recipe to enjoy on St. Patrick’s Day, look no further than Creative’s festival recipe of the month! Serve this dish to friends and loved ones and even share with them this bit of history from the Farmer’s Almanac. “The word “colcannon” derives from the Gaelic term cal ceannann, which means “white-headed cabbage. In Ireland, during the 17th and 18th centuries, potatoes, cabbage, and leeks were considered foods of the common man. So it makes perfect sense that one of the country’s most popular dishes would combine these ingredients. It’s not uncommon to find a colcannon recipe printed on the back of a bag of potatoes in Ireland.”

Irish Colcannon


6 to 8 potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 cup chopped green onions

4 cups chopped cabbage or kale (could use a combination of both)

1 stick butter or 8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 cup evaporated milk (could use regular but the evaporated is richer)


Combine cubed potatoes, chopped cabbage and green onions in a large pot on top of the stove.  Cover with water, bring to a low boil and cook 15 to 20 minutes until potatoes are done.  Remove from stove and drain.  Add the butter, salt, pepper and milk.  Mash until like mashed potatoes.  I just use a hand potato masher.  Spoon into a casserole dish and serve. Can sprinkle on some green onion tops. Makes 8 – 10 servings.  Enjoy!

Note:  You could add bacon, chives, a little garlic powder or even nutmeg to this dish. This Irish colcannon can be reheated in the oven or microwave.

Recipe compliments of

Colcannon Song

Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?

Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I’m to cry.
Oh, wasn’t it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.

Creative Around the Community

Creative Compassion’s Meteorologist Mark visited Uplands on the final day of February to talk weather and wine! The event was well attended. Creative Compassion’s director Sarah Halcott was quite busy at the Creative table, with folks wanting to know more about our nonprofit. We are very grateful for the warm reception we felt there and hope to be invited back soon!

Earlier in the month, Creative supplied the Fletcher House assisted living folks at Uplands with Valentine’s candy, flowers, and a card wishing them the very best Valentine’s Day. Those were all displayed in the common meeting room and the smiles on the residents’ faces just made our day here at Creative!  

On the 15th, Creative’s Deputy Director Mark Baldwin spoke with the new Leadership Cumberland class at the Chamber about his work at Creative and to give his perspective on what it means to be a leader. Mark appreciates the welcome he received and looks forward to being invited back to future Leadership classes!

A Creative Funny


February is the Month of Love

“And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love,” I Corinthians 13:13.

We can lose sight of our faith, and we can lose sight of hope, but we can never lose the love of God.

Twister Returns!

Creative is getting, well, creative about home safety during severe weather! One of our missions is to help people be safe in their home. Weather radios can give life-saving advanced warning of the approach of dangerous storms. The radios are especially effective at night when people might be sleeping when severe weather strikes.

The peak of severe weather season in the U.S. is in March, April, and May. It is worth noting that for those of us in the South, severe weather can occur any month of the year.

Meteorologists advise having multiple ways of getting severe weather information, with one of those ways being a weather radio. They also suggest having a reliable weather app to notify you by your phone when rough storms are approaching.

The last week of February is severe weather awareness week here in Tennessee. The final day of that week is Saturday, February 25th, and that’s when we’ll be showing Twister at the historic Palace Theatre in downtown Crossville. Tickets are only $5! Money raised will go toward buying weather radios for low-income folks in our community.

The Palace will have a special on movie treats, as well! Movie-goers can get the meal deal of nachos, hotdog, or taquitos plus drink for $5 and/or the Twister deal of candy, popcorn and drink for $5.

Come out and join us and see cows (or was it the same one?) fly across the big screen for the first time since the movie debuted in 1996! Get your tickets today on the Palace Theatre website at

Home tip of the Month 

Are you anxious for spring and beautiful spring flowers? Pick up some fresh-cut flowers the next time you’re at the store! You should be able to find some good deals on some fresh-cut flowers, especially after Valentine’s Day. Put a fresh bouquet on the table to enjoy!

Creative Compassion Cares

Creative has been busy helping folks in our community! For starters, our home repair program helped two households with much-needed work. Both households involved senior citizens who needed handicap-accessible bathrooms. This work will help keep those folks safe in their home!

The rent/mortgage and utility payment assistance program, RUPA, continues to do great things for the people in our Upper Cumberland community. The month of January ended with 10 households receiving assistance for bills they couldn’t pay. Since the RUPA program restarted in December, a total of 18 households have received assistance.

To qualify for RUPA, an individual fills out a simple application. After that application is completed and the need is confirmed, assistance is rendered swiftly to help get them back on track with their payments. Applicants must wait 18 months to reapply for assistance, creating a program that is a hand up to those who need it.

A partnership with St. Alphonsus, Cumberland Fellowship, and Good Samaritans allows us to help even more folks, especially when the amount of assistance needed is significant (ie. rent or mortgage assistance).

The RUPA program operates on donations, with 100% of those donations going into the program. If you feel moved to give and want to support this program, please find the donate button on our website or send your gift to Creative Compassion, 20 Penny Lane, Crossville, TN, 38555. Please specify “RUPA” on your gift. Thank you!

Creative Volunteer Opportunities


There is a need for volunteers for the showing of Twister at the Palace Theatre in Crossville on February 25. That movie begins at 7:00 and volunteers would need to arrive by 6:00. Volunteers can assist by guiding people to their seats, advising where the restrooms and concessions are located, as well as greeting movie-goers as they arrive!

Stars & Stripes 5K

The Stars and Stripes 5K in May will require help from volunteers. Some of the volunteer opportunities will include:

Handing out shirts before the race.

Handing out medals at the finish line.

Making sure the refreshment table stays stocked.

Distributing powder for the color run.

If you are interested in volunteering, just reach out to Mark at!

Creative Honors

This month we honor Treva Wilson. Treva worked as a seamstress and was a faithful member of Rinnie Freewill Baptist Church. She was also a 50-year Member of the Order of The Eastern Star in Clarkrange, Tennessee – Mary Chapter 11. The members of the Order of the Eastern Star are dedicated men and women who sincerely reflect the spirit of fraternal love and the desire to work together for good by giving their time to meaningful projects that benefit mankind.

Treva’s family will think fondly of the memories of a friend, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother.

Ninety-three years of life well-lived.

Treva Lowe Wilson

November 17, 1928 – October 11, 2022

Creative Kitchen Tip 

After chopping food, use the dull end of a knife to scrape the contents from the work surface.
Ingredients like onions are often chopped, then scraped into a bowl or cooking vessel. Always flip the blade over to use the end opposite of the sharpened blade for scraping. Otherwise, the blade will dull considerably, making it less efficient and more likely to slip when chopping or slicing. (credit: Food Network)

Creative’s Recipe of the Month

The Saxons claimed February was “cake month” and I think they were on to something! In this month’s newsletter I have a cake recipe that can be savored any month of the year! The best part is that it contains no expensive eggs! Well, the chocolate part is pretty dang awesome, too…..

Crazy Cake


3 cups flour

2 cups white sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups cold water


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a 9×13-inch ungreased baking dish; form 3 wells in flour mixture. Pour oil into the first well, vinegar into the second, and vanilla into the third. Pour cold water over all and stir well with a fork.

3. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Frost with your favorite icing.

4. Enjoy!

(Recipe from

Creative Around the Community

Creative is planning the first 5K to benefit the agency! The race is planned for Saturday, May 13th, at 8:00 a.m. at the Community Complex. The area is also known as the Fair Grounds. The Stars & Stripes 5K will benefit Creative’s mission to help Veterans in our community with necessary home repairs. This includes building handicap ramps into a home.

The race will take place on the weekend in May set aside to honor the families of Veterans. It’s a time to remember the sacrifices made by the families for a friend or loved one who has or is serving.

Come out and show your support! We’ll have some cool shirts for you to wear and a cool medal at the finish line! We’ll see you there!

If you’re interested in sponsoring just reach out to Mark at or call Creative at 456-6654. We sure would appreciate it!

Another Way to Give

Thanks to a generous donation in December, Creative is now set up with Benevity! For those who are unfamiliar with Benevity, they are a service designed for donations mainly through workplace giving. With 20 million supporters, more than 10 billion dollars worth of donations have resulted from this service!

If you would like to connect your workplace to Benevity and ultimately to Creative, just reach out to Deputy Director Mark at We would love to see your workplace support our work in our community here in the Upper Cumberlands!

A Creative Funny

January is the Month for New Beginnings

May your troubles be less, and your blessings be more. And nothing but happiness come through your door. ~ Irish Blessing

A Special Party at the Palace 

Creative had a very special Christmas party at the Palace Theatre in downtown Crossville in December. Members of the Bigfoot committee, Creative staff and board members attended the party.

There was lots of food, fun, and fellowship. Sarah Halcott, Executive Director for Creative, prepared a beautiful charcuterie board of delicious delights for us to enjoy. A friend of Creative’s, Pam Brackett, made a delicious white chocolate peppermint cheesecake for us to enjoy. We did not leave the party hungry!

Pam’s cheesecake was as delicious as it was beautiful!

The most special part of the evening came when Creative was presented with the check from funds raised at the 2022 Upper Cumberland Bigfoot Festival! That festival raised $7,500 for Creative and will be put into our rent/mortgage and utility assistance program (RUPA).

In addition to the check presented to Creative, the Bigfoot Festival also presented the check to the Cumberland County Animal Shelter from money raised from the Bigfoot 5K Glow Run the night before the festival. Money from that unique 5K totaled $500 and was very much appreciated by the Animal Shelter.

Creative was delighted to have our Founder, Mike Smathers, and his wife, Judy, join us for the party. An event always becomes more special when they attend! We were also thrilled to see Mike win a custom-made quilt during the door prize giveaways! That quilt was made by our Executive Director Sarah Halcott.

The weather outside was rather frightful that evening, with rain absolutely pouring down, but we didn’t let that dampen our spirits at all.

Home tip of the Month 

Organize your board games before they are needed. suggests making sure each game has all the pieces you need and that all the cards are in the card deck. Then, when winter storms knock out the lights, you’ll be all set to go with the board games and playing cards. Haven’t played a certain game in a while? Consider giving it away to someone who might enjoy it more.

Creative Compassion Cares

The rent/mortgage and utility assistance (RUPA) program restarted in December, after a three-month hiatus. Eight households were helped in the month of December and just in time for the holidays! The RUPA program now services five counties in our service area, including Cumberland, Fentress, White, Putnam, and Overton.

Creative’s home repair program helped two households in December. One family received a water heater replacement and the other received HVAC repair. Creative is thankful for the Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Project Hometown Help grant for making that assistance possible!  

We are also excited to announce the progress of our latest home build! This house has received its long-awaited drywall and is ready for interior paint.  We look forward to sharing the home’s progress to final home sale.  Creative helps homebuyers obtain affordable mortgage financing.  The homebuyers can then use their mortgage to build a modest home with Creative or purchase a home on the market using a realtor of their choice.  Be on the lookout for a couple of specs homes we are starting in the coming months!

Volunteer Opportunities

If you would like to be a volunteer with Creative just keep checking back here for opportunities! Those will be announced here each time an opportunity comes up. You can also email Deputy Director Mark at to be placed on an email list that can keep you informed of opportunities.

Money Saving Tip

Would you like to save a little bit of money this year with little effort? Try the 52-Week Challenge! Simply save $1 the first week of January, then add a dollar the second week, for a savings of only $2 the second week. Each week, just add a dollar to the savings. By week four you’ll be saving $4 and so on. By the end of the year, you will have saved $1,378!

Meet the Creative Crew

For this month’s newsletter I am proud to introduce our Chief Financial Officer Janie Burgess. Before coming to Creative, Janie worked in the medical field in administration for 33 years.  In 2009, she embarked on a very different career path that led to her being hired at Creative Compassion as the accounts payable clerk. In only two short years Janie was promoted to Executive Director! Six years later she stepped down as executive director to partially retire and take the sole position of accounts payable clerk. 

“My heart is with the nonprofit world for housing, as there are so many people that must settle for substandard housing, and they deserve better. I pride myself on working for such a good organization that not only speaks for itself in its various efforts concerning housing but continues to take the concerns of our community’s needs to heart!”

Janie has faithfully attended Homestead Methodist Church since she was two years old. It’s also the church where she married the love of her life, Royce. They will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on the third of March this year.

One of Janie’s hobbies is tending to her Orchids. One can be seen in the foreground of the picture below here at the office. Her favorite color is the white Orchid. It only seems appropriate that white orchids represent a pure and humble faith, something Janie’s shows us every day.

Creative Honors

With the new year, we’re starting a new section for the newsletter for those who would like to give to Creative in honor of someone they have lost. Your gift will go to help someone in need and will be in honor of your loved one. Both the gift amount and/or the name of the giver may remain anonymous if they so choose. Our first honoree is Lisa Lane.

Lisa was a remarkable mother, wife, and friend and her absence is felt with each passing day. A special education teacher for more than 30 years, Lisa also touched the lives of countless students and fellow teachers. She spent much of that career in Morgan County, where she moved from Indiana after completing her studies at Ball State. It was after making this adventurous move that she met her future husband of 33 years, Albert. Her loving spirit helped so many people in need over the span of her life. It’s been said that most people collect things during the course of their life. Lisa had a reputation for collecting people.

Lisa devoted her life to Christ and was a member of Lancing Presbyterian Church for over 30 years.

Of all the tributes on Lisa’s Facebook page after she passed, one in particular testifies to the Lisa so many of us knew and loved so much. “You will always be an inspiration to me, you believed in me when I couldn’t keep up with the other kids, you fought for me and with me when I wanted to give up. You never got frustrated or gave up on me when I just couldn’t master what should have been simple tasks…. Without you I wouldn’t have made the life I have today, I am a better person due to the impact you left on me.”

All of us who knew Lisa are better people because of her.

Lisa Lowery Lane

March 21, 1958 ~ September 26, 2021

To donate in Lisa’s honor, just visit our “donation” link on our homepage or send a check to 20 Penny Lane, Crossville, TN, 38555. Please make a note that the donation is in Lisa’s honor. Thank you!

Creative Kitchen Tip 

It’s the new year and that means it’s time to clean out those kitchen drawers, right? The drawers you use the most tend to also collect crumbs the most. While you have everything out of those drawers for cleaning, assess their use. When was the last time you used that cherry pitter or garlic press? Do you have two of something? Consider finding another place to keep the things you rarely use or even donate them to someone who will use them.

This will leave you with clean and less cluttered drawers. A win-win, for sure!

Creative’s Recipe of the Month

Soup and January just seem to go together so well. Try this potato soup the next time you crave something warm and filling on a cold winter’s day.

Easy Creamy Old Fashioned Potato Soup

The Vegetables

4 cups diced Russet potatoes, 2 large potatoes, about 2 pounds

1 cup diced carrots, about 2 large

1 clove garlic, mashed and diced

3 cups water

1 tablespoon Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base, chicken or turkey flavor is great

1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley, or 1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon kosher salt

The Sauce

1/2 cup butter, one stick

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

4 cups milk, whole milk is best


Preparing the Vegetables

1. Boil the veggies. Peel the potatoes (2 large potatoes, about 2 lbs) and dice them into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in a stock pot or 3-quart pot. If you have not quite 4 cups of potatoes, or more like 5 cups, don’t sweat it.

2. Peel the carrots and dice them about the same size as the potatoes. Add to the pot.

3. Smash and mince 1 clove of garlic and add to the pot.

4. Add 3 cups of water to the potatoes and carrots. The water should be just barely covering the vegetables, so add a little more (or less) to make sure they are just barely covered. (We are not draining these potatoes; this water will be part of the soup.)

5. Add a heaping tablespoon of Better Than Bouillon Base. The Roasted Chicken flavor or Turkey base is often preferred. If you don’t have Better than Bouillon, you can use a couple teaspoons of bouillon granules or cubes. Those are much saltier than the paste so be careful.

6. Chop about 1/4 cup fresh parsley or use 1 tablespoon dried parsley. Add it to the pot.

7. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium to keep it at a steady simmer. Vent the lid (tilt it so that steam can escape.) Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes and carrots are very tender. You should be able to smash one with a fork easily. Remove from heat.

8. Use a potato masher and roughly mash the mixture to your desired texture. You can leave it very chunky by not mashing at all, or if you want an ultra smooth soup you can use an immersion blender.

Make the white sauce 

1. Meanwhile, in a 2-quart pot or larger, melt 1/2 cup butter over medium heat. Once it is melted, add 1/2 cup flour and use a whisk to stir it together into a paste. Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook this mixture for 1-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

2. Slowly add the 4 cups of milk, 1 cup at a time. Use the whisk to incorporate the milk into the roux (roux=butter/flour mixture) every time you add more. See photos. It should take a few minutes to add all the milk.* If you dump it in all at once, you will have flour chunks in your soup.

3. Once all the milk is added, keep stirring often so the bottom doesn’t scorch. Your heat should still be on medium. Wait until the mixture has come to a boil (consistent bubbles rising from the center) and then let boil for 1 minute, stirring. Remove from heat.

Note: If you are in a rush, add the 4 cups of milk to a glass measuring cup and microwave for a couple minutes until it is warm, then add to the flour. This will help your white sauce come together faster.

4. Pour the white sauce into the pot with the potatoes, using a spatula to scrape all that goodness in. Stir the mixture together.

5. Serve warm and garnish with extra chopped parsley, shredded cheddar cheese, and chopped green onions. Better yet, let each person garnish as they please! (

Recipe from

Creative Around the Community

The month began with an exciting opportunity for Deputy Director Mark Baldwin. The Fairfield Glade Rotary Club elected Mark to the position of “Publicity”. Mark attends weekly meetings with that club and enjoys the volunteer spirit of that rotary. “It is an honor to be elected to a position within this wonderful community organization.”

Creative had their December board meeting in the middle of December, which consisted of business and pleasure. A holiday lunch consisting of ham, broccoli, and potatoes was enjoyed by all who attended. A delicious homemade pumpkin roll was enjoyed for dessert.

On the 21st, we had our staff party to celebrate our coming Christmas vacation. That vacation began December 22 and ended January 2nd. We had a wonderful lunch of ham, mac-n-cheese, hashbrown casserole, and cake for dessert.

From left to right: Sarah Halcott, Jessica Schubert, Tony Schubert, Janie Burgess, and Mark Baldwin

Amazon Smile

An easy way to contribute to Creative Compassion is through Amazon smile. Just go to Smile. and log in as you would if you were going to shop. Then, select Creative Compassion as your charity and get to shopping! It costs you nothing and Creative gets a 5% donation from Amazon with each order you place. It really adds up over time!

For instructions on setting up Amazon Smile on your desktop or app, just visit Money raised this way will stay right here in our community to help our neighbors!

A Creative Funny

December is the Month of Reflection

“It seems like everything sleeps in winter, but it’s really a time of renewal and reflection,” Elizabeth Camden.

Reflecting on an Incredible Year

The Christmas season is upon us and, like so many others, Creative often takes a moment in this season to reflect on the past year. We hope that everyone can take a moment during this special holiday season to count their blessings.

The year started with an addition to our Creative crew, Mark Baldwin, who has been refining our marketing strategies with great success. Mark and the Creative crew have been busy visiting Rotaries, festivals, and numerous other community events throughout this year.

We also started the year with a new program called RUPA. That program helps locals with rent/mortgage and/or utility bill payment assistance (RUPA) when facing financial emergencies. A generous grant from the United Fund helped kickstart that program.

A recipient of RUPA funding sent a note saying, “This will get me over the hump of winter. I’ve struggled so hard since January. I don’t know how I would have done it without you.”

RUPA brought about a wonderful alliance with Cumberland Fellowship Church, Good Samaritans, and St. Alphonsus that has allowed us to help even more people. In fact, we have been able to help 50 families with the RUPA program and it’s only the program’s first year! Those individuals include the elderly, Veterans, and young families who faced some sort of unexpected financial hardship.  

For the first time in Creative’s history, a local author donated a portion of the proceeds of their book to Creative! Rita Reali requested the money from her spring book sales be put into RUPA. Sales from Second Chances, Rita’s latest novel, added hundreds of dollars to our RUPA program. We are forever grateful to Rita and are so thankful for her servant’s heart.  

Rita signs books for patrons.

A new and unique fundraiser was organized for Creative this year with Stonehaus Winery. Our deptuy director is also a meteorologist and he conducted a seminar about weather and wine. The event was well-recieved and we raised money for our RUPA program! In fact, Fletcher House at Uplands has now requested the class be hosted at their location, as well, in the spring!

Weather & Wine at Stonehaus was well attended in May.

Creative received the largest Carol Peterson grant in our nonprofit’s history this year! That has allowed us to help five families with much needed but unaffordable home repairs. Helping folks stay safe and comfortable in their home is one of the more gratifying aspects of our work. Without a local banking partner we wouldn’t be able to receive funds from this grant. We thank Highland Federal Savings & Loan for helping us apply for & receive the Carol Peterson funds from the Federal Loan Bank of Cincinnati.

A home ramp makes access to a home safe.

We also received the largest HOME grant in our nonprofit’s history this year! That $640,000 grant is reserved for our home building program and will allow us to provide homes for several families in our area. This incredible grant is a clear signal of the strong reputation Creative has built over the past 30 years.

A grant from the Home Depot Foundation and Housing Assistance Council enabled us to help more Veterans this year. Creative is always a proud supporter of our local Veterans. Since 2019, we have been able to help nine Veteran families in our community through this grant.

A Veteran recieves a new HVAC from Creative

In November, Creative was able to close on our 185th home! Founded on the idea of providing homes for folks who may not think that dream is achievable, Creative Compassion is proud to have homeowners come from various walks of life, though they all have one thing in common; they achieved the American dream of homeownership.

The new homeowner was gifted a homemade blanket and pictures of the construction of her home.
The beautiful new home.

Finally, this year brought the first festival to ever benefit Creative Compassion! The Upper Cumberland Bigfoot Festival was created in 2021 to benefit nonprofits or charities. This year the festival benefited Creative. It was a great success, with more than 9,000 festivalgoers attending the family-friendly festival in October. Money from the festival will be presented to Creative at the December Christmas party. That festival’s main sponsor was Upper Cumberland Federal Credit Union and we sure are grateful for their support! The festival will return in October of 2023.

Creative has certainly been blessed this year and we thank God for those blessings. We would also be remiss not to mention the abundance of support that we’ve received from the community. That support truly is astonishing!

Nonprofit work can be very challenging but if the goal is to help our neighbors, then we’re doing something right. Hebrews 13:16 reminds us to do good and to share, because such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Generous donations will help us do even more for our community! Over the years, we have benefited hundreds of local families, including seniors, Veterans, and families just needing a helping hand. Our mission will continue until all our neighbors are taken care of. We make sure that 100% of our donations go toward our mission to help those in need.

A monthly newsletter was started in March, which is the first of its kind for Creative. The newsletter shares each month’s accomplishments, as well as home repair advice, money saving tips, recipes, and more. It’s quite an interesting and informative read! Just look for the link to that newsletter on our website. Following that newsletter will get you the latest updates sent straight to your email inbox!

On behalf of all of us at Creative, we wish you and yours the merriest of Christmases and the happiest & healthiest New Year ahead!

Amazon Smile

A very simple way to contribute to Creative Compassion is through Amazon smile. Just go to Smile. and log in as you would if you were going to shop. Then, select Creative Compassion as your charity and get to shopping! It costs you nothing and Creative gets a 5% donation from Amazon with each order you place. It really adds up over time!

For instructions on setting up Amazon Smile on your desktop or app, just visit Money raised this way will stay right here in our community to help our neighbors!

Home tip of the week 

While many of us certainly look forward to the holidays and all the joy they can bring, we must also be aware that there are Grinches among us who look to steal some of that joy. American Home Shield recommends keeping a radio or TV on to make the home appear to be occupied. They also recommend keeping indoor and outdoor lights on a timer and not displaying gifts in front a window. If you’re going to be gone for the holidays get a neighbor to check your mail. Finally, never hide the door key someplace obvious. Burglars know to look under the door mat, under flower pots, and over the door. Doing a few simple things can help keep your home safe from those holiday-stealing Grinches!

https://bc.ctvnews via Crime Stoppers

Creative Compassion Cares

Creative Compassion has received a $5,000 grant from The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and $6,750 from your local Cumberland County United Fund! These funds will be used to support our RUPA program in 2023, and will directly help us to provide at least 60 families with housing and utility payment assistance that we have not helped previously.  Other local donations from churches, businesses, and individuals will help this program reach even more people in financial need!

The Community Foundation awarded more than $2.8 million in grants to 435 nonprofit organizations as part of the 2022 annual grantmaking process.

The RUPA program began in 2022.  It was put in place by Creative’s local Board of Directors and initially funded by Cumberland County United Fund and our agency.  We are happy to have helped 50 families with these funds.  However, the need is great and we ran out of funds in August of 2022.  With the rising costs of household necessities, groceries, fluctuating gas prices, and other factors, we anticipate the need of those in financial distress will increase in 2023.  Please consider donating to our program by exploring our website:

The Community Foundation awards discretionary grants annually from their unrestricted and field-of-interest funds through an open application process to Middle Tennessee nonprofit organizations addressing community needs and benefiting the well-being of citizens through valuable programs and innovative services. The Foundation connects generosity with the need to build a stronger community for the future. To learn more, please visit .

To learn more about the work your local United Fund is doing in Cumberland County, please visit

Finally, don’t forget to stop by First National Bank of Crossville and check out our Creative Compassion Christmas tree! We are in spot number 11, which is to the left of the entrance facing south. Go inside and check out all the beautfiul trees. It’s free! And don’t forget to vote for Creative’s tree!

Money Saving Tip 

According to, we can all save money on holiday decorations by making note of the holiday decorations that need to be replaced as you take them down this year, rather than waiting and dealing with those matters next year (and hoping you remember what needed replacing!). Take advantage of post-holiday sales in January to replace that set of lights that didn’t work, that electric candle that stopped working two days before Christmas, and so on. Make note now of what you wish you would have had this year and then get those items during the post-holiday sales. Those sales can save you at least 50%!

Take pictures of your holiday decorations before you take them down and either save the pictures or share them on social media. That can save you time next year when you look back on those pictures to see where you had your decorations the year before. That can save you time and allow you to mix things up from year to year just in case you don’t want the same arrangement of decorations from one year to the next.


Creative Christmas Kitchen Tip

Keep Christmas meals simple and you’ll be less stressed. Also, when making fewer dishes there’s less room for error. An entrée, two or three sides, and a dessert (or two!) is perfectly fine. If your table is full of picky eaters or guests with dietary restrictions, do your best to accommodate them, but don’t be afraid to ask them to bring a dish to pass. No one should expect you to make three different versions of the same dish. 

Also, have some easy-to-prepare drinks on hand, such as warm apple cider, hot tea or cocoa. They’ll be perfect for sipping before, during, and even after dinner. Have some Christmas cookies (store-bought is fine!) to have alongside those beverages and you’ll be a hit!

Getty images

Creative’s Recipe of the Month

This simple casserole is for those of you who don’t have a lot of time but want to bring something delicious to Christmas dinner. This casserole is sure to please!

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

Serves 8

1.5 pounds russet potatoes

4 tablespoons butter (softened)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

10 slices crumbled bacon

1 cup sour cream

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 green onions sliced


Preheat oven to 350°. Cut baked potatoes into 1-inch. cubes. Place half in a greased 13×9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the salt, pepper and bacon. Top with half of the sour cream and cheeses. Repeat layers.

Bake, uncovered, 20-25 minutes or until cheeses are melted. Sprinkle with onions.

Creative Around the Community

Creative has once again been out and about in the community! November offered many wonderful opportunities for our nonprofit to be recognized.

On the 10th of the month, Creative was invited to join the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) for their breakfast for Veterans. Creative was honored to attend. We were also thankful to be given an opportunity to share the services that we offer for Veterans. We’re always grateful for our Veterans and welcome them to come to us for any home assistance need they may have.

Veterans who attended the TCAT breakfast. Creative’s Deputy Director is pictured second from the left.

Later that afternoon, Creative took part in the United Fund fair at Fletcher House for assisted living in Pleasant Hill. Several residents stopped by to learn more about Creative. A quilt similar to the ones we give many of our new homeowners was with our display, and visitors were quite impressed with that.

Saturday, November 12, brought the closing ceremonies of the Field of Honor at Garrison Park in Crossville. The 520 American flags that had been so beautifully standing for more than a week had to be rolled up and put away at the close of that day’s ceremonies. Creative was honored to volunteer for that task. We especially thank the Tansi Exchange Club for putting together that wonderful event!

Left photo by Jean Smith, while the black and white photo is by Jenna Brownfield.

The Chamber of Commerce annual membership gala was November 17. The event was held at Homestead 32 in the Homestead community. More than 200 Chamber members attended, including Creative Compassion. It was a wonderul evening of networking, awesome food, and friendship.

A Creative Funny

November is the Month of Thankfulness

“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.”
—Anthony Robbins

Thankful for a Successful Bigfoot Festival 

The main sponsor for this year’s festival was Upper Cumberland Federal Credit Union

Creative is thankful for a successful Bigfoot festival that took place in October! The unique festival benefits a local nonprofit, and this year Creative was chosen! Approximately 9,200 festivalgoers attended the event.

The festival is the first of its kind on the plateau. The idea was dreamt up by festival organizer Mark Baldwin, who also serves as Deputy Director of Creative Compassion. The first festival was originally planned for the fall of 2020, but covid concerns caused a one-year delay. Many would say it was worth the wait!

The first Bigfoot festival benefited the United Fund of Cumberland County. That organization supports three dozen local nonprofits. The first festival raised $5,000 for that wonderful organization. Creative is a partner agency of United Fund.

The Bigfoot festival features all kinds of family-friendly entertainment. Great music fills the air, the smells of the various food trucks make mouths water, and Bigfoot himself walks amongst the festivalgoers for memorable photo ops.

Photo Crossville Chronicle

A variety of vendors lined the festival route at the Cumberland County Fairgrounds. Many had Bigfoot-themed items, while others had various crafts, homemade food items, and clothing. The Bigfoot festival prides itself on having a wide variety of vendors with something for everyone.

New to this year’s festival was a Bigfoot 5K glow run the evening before the festival. More than 70 runners bravely ran a trail from the Community Complex to the Obed River Park in the dark. Runners were equipped with flashlights, headlamps, and glowsticks. Just as runners let their guard down during mid-course, Bigfoot helped get their hearts racing again. All runners said they had a wonderful time and can’t wait to do that again next year. Proceeds from this 5K benefited the Cumberland County Animal Shelter.

Volunteers from the Cumberland County High School and Stone Memorial High School Beta clubs helped make the race a huge success!

Also new to this year’s festival was a mullet contest! That contest proved to be wildly popular and so much fun. This contest will definitely be returning next year!

Photo Crossville Chronicle

A favorite from last year’s festival was back again this year. The Bigfoot calling contest was a huge success last year and an even bigger success this year. Those brave enough to take the stage and give the call their best shot sent laughter and awes through the grandstands.

As with last year, this year’s festival featured a kid’s zone filled with all kinds of activities for the young and young at heart. The combination of fall break for the local schools and kids getting into the festival for free made for a very popular kids’ zone.

Celebrities from Mountain Monsters came to the festival to sign autographs and converse with fans. Ben Hansen was also there from the show Fact or Faked. Other Bigfoot experts joined the celebrities to offer colorful tales from their hunts of the elusive creature of the woods. Lines were long for much of the day to see these interesting characters.

Those willing to pay for VIP tickets enjoyed a wonderful evening of entertainment at the Palace Theatre in downtown Crossville the evening before the festival. This event was popular last year and the same was true for this year. VIP folks had an evening of food, interesting conversation, and lots of fun! VIP folks left with special goody bags and lots of memories!

The money raised from the festival will be presented to Creative at a very special Christmas party and end-of-year celebration at the historic Palace Theatre in downtown Crossville in December. A check to the Cumberland County Animal Shelter will also be presented from money raised at the Bigfoot 5K.

While there are many sponsors that we’re very grateful for, Upper Cumberland Federal Credit Union was the headline sponsor. Please be sure and thank them when you see them!

Planning is already underway for the third annual Bigfoot festival coming October 21, 2023. Mark those calendars and we look forward to seeing you there!

Home tip of the week 

According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving Day is the number one day for home cooking fires. Make sure you’re safe with turkey deep fryers, check fire detector batteries, and make sure the fire extinguisher is up to date and that everyone knows how to use it correctly.

If a fire does break out on the stove, never use salt, water, or flour to put the fire out. Those substances can cause the fire to spread. For oven fires, turn off the oven,and keep the door closed. Call 911 if needed.

National Fire Protection Association

Creative Compassion Cares

This month, Creative is thankful for all those we’ve been able to help this year. The new Rent/mortgage, utility assistance program (RUPA) has helped 50 families this year! These families faced financial emergencies that left them unable to pay necessary bills.

Thanks to a start-up grant from the United Fund, donations, and a partnership with St. Alphonsus, Cumberland Fellowship, and the Good Samaritans RUPA money was able to go even farther. We hope to help even more people next year!

We’re also thankful that we secured more Carol Peterson grants than we’ve ever been able to secure this year, along with the largest HOME grant in our agency’s history.

Finally, we’re thankful for the first festival to ever benefit Creative. The Upper Cumberland Bigfoot festival was a success and we are so grateful for that.

Look for a full year-end review of Creative’s activities this year in next month’s newsletter!

We’ve a lot to be thankful for at Creative this year and we thank each and every person who has had a hand in our success!

Money Saving Tip 

That Thanksgiving grocery list is looking more expensive than ever this year with inflation running so high. Look for ways to save money on that list by using coupons. Not a fan of cutting those coupons out of the paper? You’re in luck! There are many apps that help you save without you having to cut out a single coupon! According to Investopedia, the following apps are some you may find very handy! Keep in mind that some grocery stores also have their own apps that can help you save money.

Best Overall:Dosh

Best for Groceries:Ibotta

Best for Automatic Savings:Honey ( I use this one and I highly recommend it!)

Best for Price Comparisons:Capital One Shopping

Best for Rewards:Rakuten

Best for Printable

Meet the Creative Crew

Mark Baldwin joined the Creative crew on January first, after serving on the Creative Board of Directors for two years. As Deputy Director, Mark is involved with lots of community outreach programs to help get word out about all the services available with Creative. Mark’s elected position as county commissioner made him a good candidate for the outreach skills needed for the deputy position.

Mark first became familiar with Creative when a fellow co-worker invited him to be on the board. The co-worker had been the recipient of a Creative Compassion home and wanted to give back by serving on the board. After a couple of meetings, Mark was excited to join the team.

Mark is a meteorologist by degree and enjoys keeping his weather website updated daily. His far-reaching influence on social media allows him to easily add material about Creative from time to time.

“I was impressed with Creative from the start. Once I started to learn more about their history and mission, I wanted to tell others what I had learned. I’ve been so inspired by the mission of our RUPA program that began in January. Helping others is what it’s all about! I am so thankful to be a part of the staff now and can’t wait to see what Creative does next!”

Creative Kitchen Tip 

Dispose of any leftovers in the fridge to make room for fresher food, especially at the holidays. While a packed freezer can keep food colder, food packed too closely in the fridge can inhibit airflow and cause uneven cooling within the fridge.

Food experts recommend cleaning out the fridge two weeks before Thanksgiving. That gives you room to store food items both before and after the big feast. Keep in mind that frozen turkeys may need a few days to thaw in the fridge. Thaw that turkey in a container to avoid cross contamination.

If your fridge gets crowded, consider using labels to allow fast and easy identification of food items in containers. There’s nothing worse than craving that last bit of pumpkin pie but you can’t figure out what container it’s in!

Creative’s Recipe of the Month

We all have a holiday favorite food and mine has always been my Granny Lorene’s pumpkin pie! I always looked for this holiday favorite on the table! Now, enjoying a piece of that pie not only makes my taste buds very happy, but also conjures up wonderful memories of a grandma who loved us all so very much.

Granny’s Lorene’s Pumpkin Pie


3 eggs

1 1/2 cups of cream

1 1/2 cups of pumpkin

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla


Combine all ingredients and carefully mix with a spoon (don’t whip) and pour into unbaked pie crust. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes and then at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Top with cool whip if you dare to take those taste buds to higher level. Enjoy!

Creative Around the Community

October was filled with Bigfoot festival preparations. However, Creative did make an appearance at the Allardt Pumpkin festival! The Creative booth was visited by folks from near and far, giving us the opportunity to tell even more folks about our wonderful organization.

A Creative Funny

July is National Grilling Month

When Columbus landed at Hispanola in 1492, he observed Natives cooking meat over an open flame, using green wood to ensure that the food didn’t burn. They called it barbacoa. By 1540, explorer Hernando de Soto observed the Indians of the Chicksaw tribe near Tupelo, Mississippi using the same cooking method to cook pork. Barbequing was spreading through the Americas!

Today, barbequing is one of the most common American activities for the summer. Not only is grilling a fun way to prepare a healthy meal, it’s also a good opportunity to spend time outside. Make sure to take time to enjoy both the outdoors and your time with family and friends this summer!

Photo credit:

A Big Sponsor for a Bigfoot Festival  

Creative was elated to learn that Upper Cumberland Federal Credit Union will be the main sponsor for this year’s Upper Cumberland Bigfoot Festival! That festival will benefit Creative Compassion’s mission to help those in need in our area. Last year’s inaugural festival brought in about 8,000 festival-goers.

This year’s festival will feature celebrities from the show Mountain Monsters, as well as former FBI agent-turned-actor Ben Hansen! Music by the Obed River Band will fill the air, as well as music by an up-and-coming artist out of Georgia named Kaleb Garrett. The festival will feature more than 100 vendors and a big kids area under the big white tent. Be sure and mark your calendar for a family-friendly festival filled with good stories, good food, and great company!

Home tip of the week 

Hang at least one mirror in every room. According to, mirrors can make a space feel brighter because they bounce light around the room. Hang the mirror on the same wall as the window or, better yet, perpendicular to the window. Keep in mind that placing a mirror on a wall opposite from a window can actually bounce the light right back out the window!

Photo credit:

Creative Compassion Cares

We are so very proud to announce that 100% of our Carol M. Petersen Housing Fund applicants recieved funding this year! This grant is from the federal home loan bank of Cincinnati. Six households applied and all six were granted funding. This is the largest number of applicants that Creative has submitted at one time.

“Through the Carol M. Peterson Housing Fund (CMPHF), the FHLB provides grants up to $7,500 per homeowner to fund accessibility and emergency repairs for low-income special needs and elderly homeowners. The fund is named in honor of the former FHLB executive who spearheaded FHLB’s affordable housing and community investment initiatives for more than two decades,” Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati.

Our new program to help families facing financial emergencies continues to help families in our community. As of today, Creative has been able to assist 29 local families with various needs. Those needs consist of utility bills, rent, or mortgage assistance. This program was initiated by a generous $5,000 grant from the United Fund of Cumberland County. That money has been exhausted and now the program is supported by donations to Creative.

We continue to enjoy a partership with St. Alphonsus, Cumberland Fellowship, and Good Samaritans! Whenever an individual comes to us with a need that is too great for us to meet, we can reach out to the other three organizations and pool our resources to meet the need.

Applicants need only access our website or stop by our office to fill out the necessary paperwork. The money then goes either straight to the utility company or to the holder of the lease or mortgage. Donors can feel certain that their money is put to good use in this program. To support Creative’s mission to help those facing financial emergencies, please consider giving on our website at or by mail or office visit at 20 Penny Lane, Crossville, TN, 38555. There are many in need in our area and every donation can make a big difference in someone’s life.

Money Saving Tip 

Landscape with transplanted plants. If a friend, family member, or neighbor has a plant you love, ask if you can have some seeds from the plant or even a trimming to start your own. Many plants can be (and usually should be) divided and spread apart. Ask if you can have one of those divisions for your own garden. This will save you money at the nursery, as well as provide a memory of who gifted you the beautiful plant for many years to come!

Photo credit:

Meet the Creative Crew

Denise Cooper has been a board member since 2019.  Denise was inspired to join the board after Creative’s Executive Director, Sarah Halcott, presented information to the Upper Cumberland Federal Credit Union staff about the purpose of Creative Compassion.  Sarah’s passion for Creative inspired everyone in the room as she spoke of how Creative helps those with lower incomes, the elderly, the disabled, and veterans get into a new home or to make repairs on their existing home.  To this day, Denise still sees that same focus that Sarah and the other board members have in serving the community. 

Everyone at Creative is thankful that Sarah’s talk inspired Denise to take action. In the spirit of the Upper Cumberland Federal Credit Union, Sarah wanted to help the community that she loves so very much. Her professionalism and kindness inspire all of us to keep working hard to make our community an even better place to live.

Denise has worked for Upper Cumberland Federal Credit Union for over 40 years and enjoys living a simple life on a tiny farm in Cumberland County with goats, her dogs and a garden.

Kitchen Tip 

Mix up your favorite beverage and freeze it into ice cubes. Then, when you need ice for that drink you can add ice cubes that are already your drink in frozen form. This keeps “regular” ice cubes from watering down your drink.

This tends to be an idea most used with Kool-Aid, especially for the kids. Wrap a piece of Saran wrap around the tray and punch popsicle sticks into each tray. The Saran wrap helps keep the popsicle sticks in place. After the cubes are frozen everyone can enjoy a delicious frozen treat!

Creative’s Recipe of the Month

Nothing says summer like grilling out! Try this recipe for some delicious grilled vegetables. A mouth watering recipe that’s also healthy. What a win!


3 (12-inch) wooden or metal skewers

1 pt. cherry tomatoes

1 pound fresh asparagus 

4 small zucchini or yellow squash (about 1 lb.), cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices

2 small sweet potatoes (about 1/2 lb.), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch wedges

5 sweet mini bell peppers, halved

1 (8-oz.) container fresh mushrooms

1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb.), cut into 1/2-inch slices

2 small bunches green onions

Olive oil

Salt and black pepper

Veggie Vinaigrette


Step 1 Soak wooden skewers in water 30 minutes. (Omit if using metal skewers.)

Step 2 Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat. Thread tomatoes 1 inch apart onto skewers. Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus.

Step 3 Brush zucchini, next 5 ingredients, tomatoes, and asparagus with olive oil; sprinkle with desired amount of salt and black pepper.

Step 4 Grill sweet potatoes, covered with grill lid, 6 minutes on each side or until tender. At the same time, grill zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, and eggplant 4 to 6 minutes on each side or until crisp-tender. Grill green onions, asparagus, and tomatoes 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until tender and grill marks appear. Remove from grill, and brush with vinaigrette. Arrange on a serving platter. Serve with remaining vinaigrette.

Just in case you need a simple vinaigrette recipe, try this one from The Food Network!


1/4 cup white, red or aged sherry vinegar

2 to 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 small clove garlic, minced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


Set a medium bowl on a kitchen towel shaped like an “O” (this helps keep the bowl steady while whisking). Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, garlic, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of pepper in the bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking continuously until the mixture is combined and blended well. Use right away, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

Creative Around the Community

Some of you may have heard Creative’s public service announcement (PSA) on the radio last month. The PSA airtime was offered to Creative for free by StoneCom radio stations in Cookeville, TN to announce our grant to help veterans who need home repairs. We are very grateful for that opportunity.

Earlier in the month, Creative’s Deputy Director Mark Baldwin spoke with the Cumberland County Master Gardeners group monthly meeting at the Communty Complex. Mark spoke to the group about the effects of weather and climate on gardening but he also had the opportunity to speak about Creative’s mission. In the weeks that followed, donations came in from the group that helped with our program to help folks facing financial emergencies.

The Lifelong Learning program at Roane State Community College invited Mark to come speak on preparing a home for adverse weather. Mark also had the chance to speak about Creative, which led to a $500 donation from a student in the class!

Creative set up once again at Friday at the Crossroads in Downtown Crossville in June. We were impressed by the number of folks who stopped by our booth and learned about Creative and our mission. There was a great attendance, the weather was perfect, and the atmosphere was lively and fun-loving! We can’t wait for Friday at the Crossroads to retun in August!

Another interesting fundraising event this month involved local authour Rita Reali. For the past three months, Rita has been offereing a portion of her book sales to Creative. In June, Rita hosted a book reveal party and asked Creative’s Deputy Director Mark Baldwin to emcee the event. Rita once again offered a portion of book sales from her new book to Creative. We even had donations from the audience! It was a wonderful event and everyone had the best time.

Chronicle story on sponsorship

A Creative Funny

June is National Homeownership Month

In 1995, National Homeownership Week began as a strategy of President William Clinton’s administration to increase homeownership across the nation. In 2002, President George W. Bush expanded the observance to the entire month of June.

National Homeownership Month in June shines a spotlight on supporting the American Dream of homeownership. It’s also a time to recognize the organizations that help individuals and families to achieve their goals.

Weather & Wine Fundraiser

The first Weather & Wine class was a huge success! There were beautiful Charcuterie boards of delicious food, there was lots to learn, and good company to share it all with! Wine tasting was offered to those who were interested, along with a history lesson of Stonehaus Winery.

Money was raised for Creative’s program to help those facing financial emergencies and that is the most important part of all. Money raised at this event will help ease the burden of folks in our community who are facing tough times.

If you missed this class don’t despair! We’ll definitely be doing this one again in the fall!

Home tip of the week 

Sometimes it’s necessary to make marks on the wall when hanging pictures. Marking the edges of where the pictures should go makes that task a lot easier! Use white chalk the next time you need to make those marks. The chalk will work well to outline borders and it easily wipes off the wall afterward!

Creative Compassion Cares

Creative has now helped 26 families with rent, mortgage and utility assistance! We have prevented evictions, some of which would have involved children, helped folks keep the lights on, the water running, and more! This wonderful new program by Creative is making a very positive difference in our community.

We are so grateful for the donations to our program. The first week of June has already seen more than $500 worth of donations to the program! In addition, our partnership with St. Alphonsus, Cumberland Fellowship, and Good Samaritans allows each of us to help even more people facing financial emergencies.

If you would like to give to this program just find the donate button on our website. You can also mail checks to 20 Penny Lane, Crossville, TN, 38555. We’ll put your money to use in a way that could change someone’s life.

Money Saving Tip

Consider a barter system among your friends and family to save money! For instance, maybe you are the one they call when they need a squeaky door fixed. You can then call on them for a similar favor as needed. Everyone can help each other in some way, with no money changing hands. Make a list of each other’s talents and see how well it works!

Meet the Creative Crew

This month’s spotlight is on Sarah Halcott, the Executive Director of Creative Compassion. Sarah had this to say about her experience here at Creative:

“I did not even know Creative existed until 2015 when I needed to complete a job placement program sponsored by the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency.  I’m a Crossville native & love the Plateau!  Those 10 weeks turned into a full-time job!  I’ve always said I want to work for the best, and I truly think Creative fits that standard.  We may not have the best facility, but we have the closest staff and greatest volunteers on our Board who care about helping people where we can.  We may not be the most well-known, but we have managed millions of dollars in federal & state grants and brought needed funds to our local area since 1992.” 

Sarah leads by an example that reminds many of us of a lady in the Bible named Ruth. Like Ruth, Sarah leads with kindness and servant leadership. Those of us who know Sarah know her to be a quiet person (well, most of the time. (ha!)) but one need not make a lot of noise to use kindness to change the world, just as the story of Ruth shows us all.

Sarah shared a quote by Achim Nowak that she thinks fondly of. She noted that it describes our nonprofit perfectly, but I think it also does a wonderful job of describing Sarah’s character. The quote reads, “Lead with quiet authority.  Confidence does not shout.”  

Sarah Halcott

Kitchen Tip 

Forget to bring the eggs to room temperature? No worries! Just set them in some very warm water (not hot!) for about 5-10 minutes. Problem solved!

Creative’s Recipe of the Month

Blackberry Icebox Cake

The perfect dessert for those hot summer days when the oven is best left off!

2 pints blackberries, divided

½ cup blackberry jam

1 lemon

2 cups chilled heavy cream

¼ cup powdered sugar

Pinch of kosher salt

8 oz. vanilla wafers, divided


Step 1 Measure out 2 cups blackberries from two pints. Slice berries in half lengthwise and transfer to a medium bowl. (Save remaining berries for decorating later.)

Step 2 Add 1/2 cup blackberry jam to bowl with berries. Using a citrus juicer, juice one lemon over berry mixture. Let sit 10 minutes.

Step 3 Using an electric mixer, beat 2 cups heavy cream in a large bowl, starting on low speed and icnreasing to high, until soft peaks form.

Step 4 Beat in 1/4 cup powdered sugar and pinch of salt just to combine.

Step 5 Line a medium bowl (6-cup capacity) with a plastic wrap, pressing into bottom and up sides and leaving plenty of overhang. Line the bottom of bowl with a layer of vanilla wafers.

Step 6 Spoon about 1/4 cup berry mixture over wafers. Scoop 1 1/2 cups whipped cream into a small bowl; cover and save in fridge for later. Spread 1/2 cup of the remaining whipped cream evenly over wafer and berry layers. Repeat layers with wafers (breaking to fit as needed–no one will know), blackberry mixture, and whipped cream, using more for each layer as the bowl gets wider, until you run out of all the components.

Step 7 Bring up plastic overhang to cover and chill at least 24 hours.

Step 8 Unwrap plastic from top of cake and place a large cake stand or platter firmly over it. Flip over and lift bowl away; peel away plastic wrap. (Ta-da!)

Step 9 Using a whisk, beat reserved whipped cream back to soft peaks, then usa spoon to dollop cream all over cake and spread around evenly.

Step 10 Cut reserved berries in half lengthwise and arrange them on top.

Step 11 Slice cake into 8 pieces to serve.

Step 12 Do Ahead: Cake can be assembled 2 days ahead and can also be unfolded and covered in cream 1 hour ahead; either way, keep in the fridge until the last minute.

Creative Around the Community

Earlier in the spring, our Deputy Director, Mark Baldwin, was invited to speak to the Jamestown rotary about Creative and what our organization does. On the 10th of May, Mark visited the group they were very interested in the work we do. They even invited Mark to come back and speak again! They were wonderful hosts and Mark can’t wait to visit them again.

The month ended with Mark attending a Legislative Conference in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This gave Mark the opportunity to let other legislators from across the state know what we do and why our work is so very important.

A Creative Funny

How do electricians get confused?

They get their wires crossed. 🙂

May 2022 Newsletter

May is National Military Month

There are more military related observances during the month of May than any other month. This makes May the ideal month for recognizing our service men and women. Among those observances are Armed Forces Day (May 21) and Memorial Day (May 30). We thank all those who have served!

All gave some, some gave all.

Veteran’s Assistance

Creative Compassion’s Veteran’s Assistance program was started in 2019. This program has proudly helped eight veterans in the Upper Cumberlands with various home repairs and improvements. We thank the Home Depot Foundation, in partnership with the Housing Assistance Council (HAC), for the funding of this grant.

Pictured below is a fellow Army Veteran who benefited from a new heating and air conditioning unit thanks to money from this program. The new unit is energy efficient, which will save him money in the years to come.

If you or anyone you know is a veteran and is in need of a home repair please send them to Creative! Funds are available for distribution and we would like to see the money put to good use for an American hero. We have more info on our website or you can give us a call at (931) 456-6654.

A Bigfoot Festival to Benefit Creative 

It’s a festival unlike any other and this year it benefits Creative Compassion! The inaugural Upper Cumberland Bigfoot Festival was held last year and was a raging success. This year’s festival is expected to draw an even bigger crowd!

The festival begins Saturday, October 15th, at 9:00 a.m. and wraps up at 6:00 p.m. that evening. Jeff and Willie from Mountain Monsters will be there, as well as Ben Hansen from Fact or Faked. Other Bigfoot experts coming include Thom Shay and Charlie Raymond. You just never know who you might run into at this eccentric festival!

New to this year’s festival is a Bigfoot 5K Glow Run the evening before the festival! That is already proving to be very popular and folks are already signing up! That race will feature live music and too much fun. Glow sticks will light up the runners as they run to the Obed River and back at the Fairgrounds. Runners will be timed by chips in their bibs and an awards ceremony will follow the race! That race will begin at 8:00 p.m.

To learn even more about this incredible festival, just visit!

Home tip of the week 

Pull your refrigerator away from the wall at least once a year and vacuum the dust off the condenser coils. This helps your refrigerator continue to work efficiently and extends its life. Add this to your spring cleaning list and enjoy a more efficient fridge the rest of the year!

Creative Compassion Cares

Creative has now helped 19 families with either rent, mortgage or utility assistance since this new program began in January. These are families who came to us and were struggling due to a financial emergency. The grant for this program was made possible by the United Fund of Cumberland County, though that money will soon be exhausted. Fundraising events, such as the Weather and Wine class, as well as generous donations from the community, will provide additional funding for other families to receive help going forward.

The importance of this program is emphasized in the following quote from a gentleman we recently helped.

“This will get me over the hump of winter.  January, February, and March [heating] bills were so hard.  I’ve struggled so hard since January.  I don’t know how I would have done it without you.”

If you would like to give to this program, just find the donate button on this page or reach out to our agency.

Money Saving Tip 

Treat yourself! Just be sure to use your treat as an opportunity to save. Match the cost of your nonessential indulgences in savings. For example, if you splurge on a strawberry ice cream cone (or three!) while out running errands, put the same amount into your savings account. Before you know it, you’ll have a sweet amount of savings in that account!

Meet the Creative Crew!

Beginning with this month’s newsletter, you will meet each and every one of the staff and board members that keep things running smoothly here at Creative Compassion! For this month, I would like to introduce you to Kim Jordan. Kim has been on the Creative Compassion Board of Directors since 2014.  She has held the Secretary/Treasurer position, Vice President position, and currently sits as the Board President for 2022.

“Since I became a mom I always tried to give back, volunteered, coaching t-ball, basketball, and soccer. I moved to Crossville from Massachusetts and started volunteering and helping with the kid’s school sports. In that time, I applied for a home through Creative Compassion and I got approved! I was so happy and proud of myself! After I moved in, I got a call from a board member from Creative Compassion asking me to be a board member… I was a little nervous to say the least, but I wanted something else to do (since the kids have grown up), so I decided to give it a try. I wanted to be able to help another family and have them feel as happy and proud as I was with myself. It’s been 7 1/2 years now and I love it, and I continue to love helping hardworking families achieve their goals.”

We are so very proud of Kim and all that she has accomplished. Her contagious smile is always nice to see at our board meetings. Just keep in mind that there’s one word you can’t say around Kim, as I’ve learned the hard way many times. Don’t say the “snow” word and no one gets hurt! Kim will be quick to point out that she moved here from Massachusetts “to get away from that nonsense.” (ha!)

Thank you for all that you do, Kim!

Kim Jordan, President of the Creative Compassion Board of Directors

Kitchen Tip 

Since May is the month we start tasting those delicious strawberries, it seems appropriate to share a strawberry-related kitchen tip! To wash those beautiful berries just place them in a colander and gently rinse them under cool water before removing the stems. If the stem is removed before the wash, the water will have a greater affect on the texture and flavor of the strawberries. We sure don’t want to risk losing any of that sweet and delicious strawberry flavor!

Creative’s Recipe of the Month

Strawberries begin to ripen in Tennessee just as the weather is really warming up! This means you just might get a craving for a delicious strawberry milkshake. Check out this tasty recipe by Mary Gormandy White!


Makes approximately three, 12-ounce servings

  • 1 pound of fresh strawberries
  • 1 pint of vanilla or strawberry ice cream
  • 1/2 cup of milk (your choice of whole, 2 percent, or skim)


  1. Hull the strawberries and cut them in half.
  2. Place all ingredients in a blender.
  3. Process until smooth (approximately 45 – 60 seconds).
  4. Test before serving, adding additional time if needed for desired smoothness or adding more milk to adjust consistency.


There are plenty ways to vary this basic recipe for a strawberry milkshake. Consider:

  • If you like your shakes thinner, add a bit more milk or even a few splashes of water.
  • If the initial concoction is a bit too thin, add more ice cream or a few ice cubes and blend for 10 – 15 seconds longer.
  • Blend in a few teaspoons of sugar or other sweetener (stevia, Splenda, etc.) if you like an even sweeter milkshake.
  • For a silkier texture, blend in a small amount of strawberry or vanilla yogurt. Start with 2 tablespoons, adding more as needed to get to the texture you prefer.
  • Use frozen strawberries instead of fresh.
  • Enhance the fruit flavor by blending in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of another fruit that pairs well with strawberry, such as other types of berries, kiwi, or banana.
  • Reduce carb count by using Hood Calorie Countdown Whole Dairy Beverage instead of milk and a reduced carb ice cream such as Breyers CarbSmart.

Serving Suggestions

Serving suggestions to consider include:

  • Garnish the side of the glass with a whole strawberry and a sprig of mint. Cut a slit in the strawberry to set it on the rim of the glass.
  • Top off the shake with a generous portion of whipped cream.
  • Add a few sliced chopped or sliced strawberries to the top.
  • Drizzle chocolate sauce on top of the shake.
  • Fill the glass halfway up, drop in some chopped strawberries, then fill to the top.
  • Invest in a set of classic soda fountain shoppe glasses if you plan to serve milkshakes often.
  • Be sure to include a straw.

A Strawberry Festival to Remember

The city of Portland, Tennessee, is located about 45 miles north of Nashville and hosts one of the biggest strawberry festivals in the region on May 13-14! Just take I-40 to Lebanon and then hit Highway 109. That stretch of beautiful highway will take you right to Portland and to a lip-smacking good strawberry festival! For more information, please visit the festival’s website at

Weather & Wine

Everything is coming together for the Weather & Wine class coming up on May 13th! Attendees will be treated to refreshments and fun and informative class by Meteorologist Mark! Few other industries are as impacted by weather and climate as the grape and wine industry. Changes in the past have influenced wines of today, and changes to come in the future will influence the wines of the future. It’s all very intriguing!

This creative fundraiser will benefit Creative Compassion and our mission to help folks with rent, mortgage, or utility assistance due to financial emergencies. The program has helped 19 families so far this year and many more will need our help by year’s end.

So, get your tickets today and support a very worthy cause while enjoying a very cool class! Tickets can be purchased for $25 at The class is filling up fast, so get your tickets today!

Creative Around the Community

Creative’s booth at the Master Gardener Flower, Lawn, & Garden Show last month was a hit! So many of you stopped by to chat and learn more about our organization. We had our new promotional car air fresheners to give away, free candy, as well as opportunities to register to win a baby sasquatch or yeti! It was all so much fun and we very much enjoyed talking with everyone who stopped by!

Creative Compassion car air freshener
The Creative booth at the Flower, Lawn, & Garden Show

Roane State’s Open House was Monday, April 25th and we had such a blast there! So many folks stopped by and get their picture with the rarely-seen big man himself! And yes, Bigfoot is seen here clutching a baby sasquatch.

Bigfoot at the Roane State Open House

Creative’s Deputy Director, Mark Baldwin, was invited to speak with the Fairfield Rotary Club for their final April meeting. Mark spoke Creative’s mission and how this nonprofit has helped and will continue to help the community for many years to come! Mark was thankful for such a welcoming audience and a very warm reception!

Deputy Director Mark Baldwin speaks to the Fairfield Rotary Club about Creative Compassion.

A Creative Funny

Q: What did one strawberry say to the other strawberry?

A: If you weren’t so sweet, we wouldn’t be in this jam!

April 2022 Newsletter

April is the National Month of Hope.

We celebrate the power of hope–the belief that things will work out, especially when it seems otherwise. 

Image by

 Bookin’ a Fundraiser

Creative Compassion’s first fundraising event of 2022 was held at the Art Circle Public Library in downtown Crossville on March 5. Local author Rita Reali is currently writing a series of books that takes us into the intriguing lives of the Sheldons. The series highlights the human condition and takes readers on a journey filled with tests of love, loss, betrayal, hope, and faith.

Rita states that the biggest complaint she receives from the books are from people who begin reading the book just before bedtime. The page-turning series keeps readers up through the night. Rita’s advice is to start the books when you have a few hours to indulge in reading!

Rita’s book series that takes us on a wild ride with the Sheldons!

Rita has generously offered a portion of her book sales to go to Creative. That fundraising campaign began on March 5 and ends June 5. When you buy a book you support both a great local author and great local cause. To purchase a book(s), please contact Rita directly

Creative is very grateful for Rita and her generous contribution to our organization. Be sure and give her a big thank you the next time you see her around!

Rita converses with a visitor during the book signing.

If you would rather meet Rita in person and get your very own autographed copy of one of her books, just meet us at Grinder House Coffee on Saturday, April 30 from 11:00 – 1:00! Grinder House is located at 73 North Main Street in Downtown Crossville. Stop by to chat while you enjoy one of Grinder House’s delicious coffees or desserts. They also have a wonderful lunch menu!

Grinder House Coffee House

A Creative Update

The new rent/mortgage and utility bill assistance program that began in January continues to help folks in our local community. Since January, Creative has now been able to help 14 families in need of assistance! Keep in mind that while Creative’s mission is to help mainly low-income individuals, this particular program is intended to help anyone who has encountered financial difficulty. If you or anyone you know needs assistance, please reach out to us today! The application for that assistance can be found at

A Busy March!

Creative has been busy getting the word out about our nonprofit! On the third of the month, Deputy Director Mark Baldwin was invited to speak with the Crossville Noon Rotary Club about Creative Compassion and explain what the organization does for the community. A big thank you to that Rotary Club!

On the fifth of the month, the Art Circle Public Library hosted the book signing that you read about at the start of this newsletter. Creative is so thankful for the Library’s sponsorship of that event and we are grateful to Rita Reali for being so generous with both her time and money.

On the 22nd, Mark had the pleasure of sitting down with Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-TN) at his Nashville office. It’s always nice to put in a good word about Creative with Mr. Sexton and to know that he appreciates us being here and what we do for the community.

On the morning of the 29th, Mark had the great pleasure of speaking with the Cookeville Breakfast Rotary Club. They wanted to know all about Creative Compassion and the Bigfoot Festival coming in October that will support Creative! Mark says it’s always nice to start the day with good and friendly people! For more information about the Bigfoot Festival, please visit that website at Look for a story on this festival in an upcoming newsletter!

Creative is so thankful for the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) for hosting our organization for Frito Bandito Day on the 29th. More than 80 students, faculty, and staff were served! It was a wonderful event and we are so thankful for that opportunity. We can’t wait to be invited back!

Home tip of the week 

Are you tired of the dread of using a hammer to drive a nail? If you’re anything like me, you’ve suffered the blow of a misguided hammer on more than one occasion! Next time, try using a comb to hold the nail in place. The comb should hold the nail in place and keep your fingers safe from that next swing of the hammer!

Creative Compassion Cares

Creative hired a Deputy Director this year who is also a local meteorologist. Many of you may know Mark from his website, Part of Mark’s responsibilities involve coming up with unique fundraiser ideas. One of those ideas was inspired by the parent of one of the kids in Mark’s monthly class for kids at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT). She proposed a class for adults to learn about the impacts of weather and climate on the wine industry.

After looking into that topic, Mark decided there was definitely an interesting class to be had on this subject! That idea has turned into a fundraiser for Creative Compassion. Thanks to a sponsorship by Stonehaus Winery, that class will become a reality on Friday, May 13th at 5:00 pm! We hope you will join us for refreshments and a very interesting seminar on the impacts of weather and climate on wines and the grapes they rely on.

The class is limited to the first 40 who sign up, so be sure and secure your spot today! To learn more and to register for the seminar just visit

Money Saving Tip 

With gardening season upon us, it might be time to consider a vegetable garden, especially if you’ve never had one before. Seasoned gardeners know all about that delicious taste of a fresh-from-the-garden veggie and the pride that comes from harvesting those veggies from your very own garden. Those same veggies can also save you a lot of money. Even with increasing prices of seeds and fertilizers, growing your own vegetables can still be a cost-effective thing to do, not to mention the health benefits! According to, the seven most cost-effective vegetables to grow are lettuce, broccoli, green beans, carrots, green peppers, cherry tomatoes, and tomatoes. My mouth is watering already!

For some added beauty to your garden, don’t be afraid to mix some flowers in with your veggies. In fact, many gardeners are convinced that Marigolds ward off pests like tomato hornworms and rabbits!

Photo – Rosie Yeomans Sparsholt

Kitchen Tip 

This month’s kitchen tip is more about gratitude. With real-estate it’s always about location, location, location. In the kitchen, it’s all about gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. Whether you thank God for your food before, during, or after a meal or whether you simply remember to thank the chef, always remember to be grateful for what you have to eat. And, of course, let’s not forget to be grateful for the ones we get to share our meal with, even if it’s just ourselves.

Creative’s Recipe of the Month

This month’s recipe features a Raspberry Poke Cake that our very own Janie Burgess prepared for one of our Creative Compassion board meetings. The cake was a delicious success! This retro Raspberry Jell-O Poke Cake is a potluck favorite. It’s made with raspberry-flavored Jell-O, but you can use any flavor.

Raspberry Poke Cake

Photo by @starryrose

Prep Time: 10 mins Cook Time: 30 mins Chill Time: 3 hrs


  • 15.25 oz box white cake mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil


  • 8 oz container Cool Whip thawed


  • 3.3 oz box raspberry Jell-O
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ¾ cup cold water


  • Raspberries optional
  • Sprinkles optional

STEP ONE:  First, make the cake and bake in a 9×13-inch pan. Let the cake cool completely after baking.

STEP TWO: Next, prepare the Jell-O. Then, poke holes all over the cake with a wooden spoon handle.

STEP THREE: Using a measuring spoon, add the Jell-O to the holes. Chill the cake for at least three hours.

STEP FOUR: Finally, spread cool whip over the top and garnish with raspberries and sprinkles. 

A Creative Funny

I wanted to buy some literature on DIY shelving. Sounds easy, but try going into a book store and asking if they have “any books on shelves”. (credit:

istock by Getty image
“If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday,” Isaiah 58:10

March 2022 Newsletter

 “If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday,” Isaiah 58:10.

A Very Gracious Offering 

Local author Rita Reali recently reached out to Creative Compassion with a very enticing offer. She offered a portion of her book sales to benefit Creative Compassion’s mission!

Rita told Creative that she decided to support our organization because she wants to see Creative succeed. “We need organizations like yours in our area,” Rita said. “I’ve always heard, ‘You can’t go through life with a catcher’s mitts on both hands: you’ve got to be able to throw something back’ This is my way of giving back to a cause I believe in.”

Rita is the author of a book series that takes a reader on an adventure with the Sheldons. While the books are written in such a way that they don’t need to be read in the order in which they were written, Rita suggests readers might enjoy the series more if they read the books in order.

The four-book series by Rita Reali.

Rita is a two-time international award-winning novelist and is a professional editor and proofreader. She’s also a national award-winning journalist and an award-winning essayist, parody songwriter, photographer and visual artist.

The onetime radio announcer and news director – “bitten by the radio bug” at an early age – weaves elements of the broadcast world and its miscellaneous quirky personalities into her novels. A native and longtime resident of Connecticut, Rita now lives atop the picturesque Cumberland Plateau in rural Tennessee, with her husband, cat and an assortment of fictional characters who keep life interesting.

You can meet Rita at the Art Circle Public Library on Saturday, March 5 from 12:30-3:30 for a book signing. The library has generously offered their beautiful Community Room for the occasion.

So, make plans to come visit us at the library on March 5. We would love to see you there! The books sell for $15 each, with the fourth book in the series selling for $20. Cash, check, and credit card are accepted.

Creative will provide light refreshments. In the book Second Chances, readers learn that Gary Sheldon’s favorite cookie is the Cinnamon-Walnut cookie. Rita has hinted that those may make make an appearance at the book signing! We hope to see you there!

Rita attends a book reading and signing in the summer of 2021.

Home tip of the week 

Use those plastic bread bag ties to label power cords! Just place the plastic tie on the cord and then label it with a sharpie. You’ll be helping out the environment by recycling and you’ll know which cord goes with each appliance. No more unplugging the wrong thing! A win, win for sure!

Creative Compassion Cares

The new rent and utility assistance program is off to a wonderful start! Since the program began on January first, Creative has helped 11 households with either rent or utility bill assistance. Those who qualified for assistance had experienced unexpected financial emergencies. To apply for assistance, just go to the “services” tab on our webpage at


The rent and utility assistance was funded by a grant from the United Fund of Cumberland County. Creative is very grateful for this generous grant that will help so many families.

Later this spring, Creative will once again be participating in the Carol M. Peterson Housing Fund grant. This grant is for low-income households that have special needs and/or are 60 years of age or older and inhabiting the residence. In the past, Creative has helped homeowners replace roofs, water heaters, plumbing, HVAC units, leaking exterior doors, etc. 

Special needs criteria includes physical, mental, or developmental needs. It also includes those who are co-occurring disabled, physically/emotionally abused, chemically dependent, aging out of foster care/orphanage or other residential facilities.

The low-income status will be determined from the application filed with Creative.

At least one applicant must have ownership in the home needing the repairs and they must live at the home needing the repairs (i.e. meaning their name must be on the deed).  Applicants can have a lien or mortgage on the home; it does not need to be owned “free & clear.” That home address must be in Cumberland, Fentress, White, Overton, or Putnam counties.

Applications are available by request via email, mail, or pick up at our office. If you have any questions, please call our office at 931-456-6654 and ask to speak with Jessica!

Money Saving Tip 

Change your HVAC filter every month during the heating months. Change it every month if your unit also uses the filter for air conditioning. Keeping that filter changed creates less stress on your unit and can save you as much as $60 a year! A clean filter also increases the lifespan on your unit. 

Bonus tip…take a sharpie and write the date you changed the filter in the white space around the filter. Then, you’ll always know when you changed it out last. 

Few things are worse than trying to clean up the mess from the egg that got away! I know this has never happened to you seasoned chefs, but if an egg should happen to slip away from you and splat on the floor, just sprinkle lots of salt on it. No more chasing that broken egg all across the floor!

Creative’s Recipe of the Month

With St. Patrick’s Day coming on the 17th, Creative figured you all would like a “green” recipe for the occasion. This delicious cake might just help you have the best St. Patrick’s Day yet!

Pistachio Pudding Cake

Prep Time: 10 mins Cook Time: 40 mins Cool: 1 hr

What you’ll need:

  • 15.25 ounce box white cake mix
  • 3.4 ounce box pistachio instant pudding (powder)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup 7up soda
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract , optional
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar , for dusting

What you’ll need to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10 or 12-inch fluted Bundt pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cake mix, instant pudding powder, eggs, 7up soda, vegetable oil, and almond extract (if using); beat with an electric mixer or whisk vigorously for 2 minutes, until combined. Fold in the pistachios.
  3. Pour evenly into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes, then run a dull knife along the edges to loosen. Then allow to cool completely.
  5. Turn cake out onto a wire rack or plate; dust with powdered sugar.
  6. Slice and serve!

A Creative Funny

Please don’t come to my garage sale if you’ve ever let me borrow something. —@Mjkspeaks (Reader’s Digest)

February 2022 Newsletter

 “If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday,” Isaiah 58:10.


A new chapter in Creative Compassion’s 30-year history has begun! With the hiring of a new Deputy Director, Mark Baldwin, things are changing at Creative and we can’t wait to see what this new chapter brings for our non-profit!

Many of you may know Mark from his weather forecasts on social media and his website MeteorologistMark. The good news for his more than 20,000 followers is that his work with local weather will continue!

Mark served on the Board of Directors for Creative before applying for and being hired into this new role with Creative. He looks forward to working with Creative on fundraising ideas, as well as community outreach that educates the public on what Creative is and how we can help our communities.

One of Mark’s first projects is this monthly newsletter, which is a first for Creative! Mark’s background in journalism, along with his love of writing, makes him well suited for this endeavor. His skills and love for his community made him a shoo-in for a Deputy Director. We can’t wait to see what he does for Creative!

In the beginning…

Creative Compassion began with a sermon from the book of Isaiah. The verse that formed the heart of that sermon is the one you see titling this letter. That message of compassion resonated in the hearts of Mike and Judy Smathers and led them to create Creative. Thirty years later, we continue our work of serving our communities through the love of Christ.

Since our founding in 1989, Creative has helped more than 700 people with various housing needs, including making it possible for low-income individuals to become home owners. Creative also takes pride in helping local individuals with home repairs, as well as rent and utility assistance.

HOME Grant

Creative Compassion is celebrating the largest HOME grant in the agency’s history! The $640,000 HOME grant will make it possible for Creative to provide even more housing for local low-income families. The grant is a clear signal of the strong reputation Creative has built over the past 30 years.

The HOME grant is the largest Federal block grant to state and local governments designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income households. Were it not for Creative Compassion, this money would have gone somewhere else, costing our own region this much-needed money.

Home tip of the week 

Did you know that you can use crayons to fill in nail holes on the wall? Just find a crayon that matches (or closely matches) the wall paint and use the crayon to fill in the hole. This works great on white walls with a white crayon!

Just don’t let the kids see you do this. You may end up with more crayon on the wall than you bargained for!  


A New Creative Compassion Program

Photo credit:

Creative has been busy reviewing applications for the brand new home utility and rental assistance program that began this month. Winter has been harsh and that means utility bills are high. For those who were struggling before the winter hit, the added stress of higher utility bills has quickly become a burden.

That’s where Creative Compassion steps in. After filling out an application that proves the need, applicants are then considered for financial assistance. Money never goes directly into the hands of recipients. Rather, it is sent to the utility company that is needing to be paid.

If rental assistance is sought, that need is also confirmed through an application process. If granted, the money then goes directly to the landlord.

All financial needs must be proven by the applicant. An applicant can only receive funds once every 18 months.

Assistance from this grant is made possible by funding provided by the United Fund of Cumberland County.

“After a hard year of financial difficulties resulting from events out of my control, my spouse… had an affair and left our home. I had to continue to pay for all our financial responsibilities…. After (some time) I had reached a point where I had fallen behind and just couldn’t keep up the financial burden any longer. My savings were depleted, and I could no longer pay for the financial responsibilities of two individuals on my salary alone. This assistance helped me get back on track and kept me from falling further behind. It was a true blessing.” – Cumberland County Family needing help with utilities.

Money Saving Tip 

Clean your lightbulbs. Dirty lightbulbs may emit as much as 30% less energy, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Cleaning those bulbs will make the room brighter, making it less necessary for other lights to be used. So, something as simple as just cleaning off the bulbs could put some extra cash in your wallet! That’s always a good thing!

Photo credit: Amazon via

Kitchen Tip

Do you get tired of buying bananas, only to throw several of them out because you didn’t use them before they went bad? Well, don’t be so quick to throw them out! Just peal them, slice them up, and place them in a freezer bag and freeze them. They’ll keep for several more weeks and will work perfectly in banana bread or smoothies! In fact, I use frozen banana slices quite often for my blueberry smoothies. Packed with potassium, antioxidants, and Vitamin C, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more delicious and nutritious treat!

Creative’s Recipe of the Month

Delicious Banana Blueberry Smoothie


1 banana (frozen slices work great!)

2/3 cup Greek Vanilla Yogurt

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup blueberries


Mix all together in blender until smooth. Feel free to alter ingredients to taste.

Extra topping ideas

Nuts of choice, seeds of choice, protein powder, strawberries, or peaches. I also add a teaspoon of vanilla for flavor. Feel free to be creative with your own topping ideas!

DIY Bloopers

(Tim McGuire/Getty Images)

I once started demolishing a wall… before I knew what ‘load-bearing’ meant.

-Angela C. from Antioch, TN (Source:

We hope you’ve enjoyed our first newsletter! Stay tuned for the next letter coming in March!