Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, right, and his wife Allison, center, were among the honorees at Child & Family Tennessee’s 2011 Founding Families Awards Luncheon May 12. WATE-6 news anchor Gene Patterson, left, served as the luncheon’s emcee. (Photo by J.J. Kindred)
By J.J. KINDRED
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, University of Tennessee Athletic Director Mike Hamilton and the St. John’s Cathedral were among the honorees during Child & Family Tennessee’s 2011 Founding Families Awards Luncheon May 12 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
The event recognizes people in the community who have contributed to Child & Family Tennessee’s success, and made a difference in the lives of children through foster care or adoption, community leadership or inspiration.
County and city officials, some who serve on Child & Family Tennessee’s Board of Directors or have made significant contributions, were in attendance. WATE-6 news anchor Gene Patterson served as the master of ceremonies.
Burchett and his wife, Allison, adopted a five-year-old foster son, and said they were honored to be recognized for their efforts.
“I think it’s wonderful that we were able to come out with the folks who work with Child & Family. They’re the ones who really deserve recognition,” Allison Burchett said. “It always is a challenge. If we can manage to find the time to balance a mayoral run and election and soccer games, anyone can.
“Tim and I don’t have any children of our own of course, and the child needed placement, so it wasn’t even a question as far as we’re concerned,” she added.
Hamilton and his wife, Beth, adopted three children from Ethopia, in addition to their own two children.
“We’ve been blessed to have five wonderful children and given a platform to talk about adoption,” Hamilton said. “To be recognized for some of that is really humbling. Our adoption was about family and creating our own family, without ever being recognized for it.
“(The adoption process) was difficult in the sense that it was time consuming, but I think no one would question the outcome is very much worth what you go through to get there,” Hamilton continued. “It gives you time to think about philosophy; it gives you time to think about your own history and why you’re going through the process and why you’re choosing to adopt.”
Hamilton added that it took a lot of divine intervention to balance raising a family and performing his duties as athletic director.
“It involves a great God who has blessed us and allowed us to do that and having a great wife walking alongside of me,” Hamilton said. “We do it in partnership together and there are days we are certainly dysfunctional, but we try to give our children the best life we can, just like other parents.”
The Rev. Thom Rasnick, sub-dean of St. John’s Cathedral, accepted the award on his congregation’s behalf and said he felt truly honored. The Rev. John C. Ross could not attend.
The church operates an orphanage, where its children are active church members, and is active in many community outreach projects.
“We are truly blessed to be here today,” Rasnick said. “This award is an example of how being there for a child can change your life and the lives of those around you.”
Russ Jensen, director of the city of Knoxville’s 311 Center and a member of the Child & Family Tennessee’s Board of Directors, praised the efforts of the recipients.
“You got somebody who is the county mayor or in the state legislature or what have you, and you have someone like Allison, and they manage to find the time to be foster parents,” Jensen said. “Imagine what other folks could do. It’s a classic example of nobody’s too busy and nobody’s too big. As long as you’ve got love in your heart and you got room in your house, you can be a foster parent. It’s the same thing with Mike Hamilton.
“I’ve known Mayor Burchett since I moved to Knoxville in ‘99 and he’s been supportive in everything I’ve done,” Jensen continued. “These people have never been too busy to take time and do the right thing.”