A Brief History of Our Agency


Creative Compassion, Inc. (CCI) is a Tennessee 501(c) registered nonprofit agency.  We were created for the sole reason to bring better housing opportunities to local families.

“If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desires of the downtrodden, then shall your light rise in the darkness…” (Isaiah’s words, 58:10, The Bible).  This was the textual basis for Gene Smathers’ sermon titled “The Call to Creative Compassion” which gave CCI its name and its Biblical mission and foundation.

Our name was first a sermon title, then an idea, until finally we were founded as a social service ministry by Michael and Judy Smathers.

In October, 1989, they announced their resignation from pastor ship at Calvary Presbyterian Church of Big Lick, in order to pursue a dream of bringing physical healing to the Cumberland County community through housing opportunities.  This church has remained a faithful contributor to our mission today.

One month after the  announcement, CCI was incorporated.

It began as a rough road.  CCI was founded on nearly nothing – as our founder would say “not even a proverbial pot to pee in.”  CCI’s only program between 1989 – 1992 was an offering of technical assistance to other nonprofits.

Our first house began construction in September, 1992.  CCI was the first organization, private or public, to receive HOME funds administered through the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA), and our application was the top scoring application.  We have continued to utilize this program 31 years later.

From no money and no ficsal way to support our founder’s dream to today, CCI is proof that a God-inspired dream to show kindness and compassion to our fellow man will result in hard-earned success.

Most recently in 2020, CCI continued our housing missions by building 3 new homes for first-time homebuying families, helping 10 families pay for home repairs, helping 2 families pay rent and utilities.

CCI stepped out of its normal housing activities to help 17 public schools across Cumberland & Fentress County gain access to COVID-19 sanitation supplies, benefitting 10,000 students + teachers.

To you who are reading this, we hope you will explore our website further by reading about our past activities by visiting our Helping Families page by clicking here.