By Julia Wood

Hispanic children, young people, and families gathered from Carter, Johnson, Unicoi, and Washington Counties in Northeast Tennessee, Central Appalachia, July 24 to celebrate school support, COVID-19 vaccinations, and even a co-ed soccer team.

St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Elizabethton, hosted over 100 children and family members on the Parish’s beautiful West Lawn. Bishop Brian Cole of the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee led events with members from St. Thomas and Covenant Presbyterian, Johnson City, and others of the Tri-Cities Latinx Partnership.  The Partnership began at St. Thomas in January 2017 to welcome Latin neighbors, 7,000 persons strong in the four-county area.

Father Timothy Scott Holder of St. Thomas said the event was one of the most important in the history of the parish. “Today we stand with our LatinX families who give so much to our communities and our lives.”

The event included $100 school gift cards, rainbow school satchels, and 20-pound bags of nutritious food from Second Harvest, Blountville.  Also, health care professionals administered Covid-19 vaccinations. Other participants included ETSU medical, health, Spanish and Appalachian scholars, and the area’s first co-ed soccer team.

Father Holder said the event, “filled hearts, souls, stomachs, hopes, and dreams of some 40 volunteers who gathered to support the children and their families.”