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King University Knoxville Nursing Students Serve ‘Under the Bridge’

BRISTOL, Tenn., May 9, 2017 – When you think of providing basic health care, you likely do not imagine an interstate bridge in downtown Knoxville. However, this is where nursing students from King University Knoxville recently volunteered through the Lost Sheep Ministry (LSM) to provide health care to a local homeless population.

“This service project is part of the Knoxville-based nursing student’s clinical hours in the BSN program,” said Terry Cooper, MSN, associate professor of Nursing at King. “On the evening we volunteered it was only 35 degrees. It was a humbling experience. The students and I discussed how we were able to leave and go home, while those [we were serving] were likely out for the night.”

King nursing students helped to provide medical assistance alongside regular community volunteer Bonnie Callen, RN. Care included taking blood pressures to checking glucose levels and distribution of basic medications.

The Lost Sheep Ministry reaches more than 200 people weekly under the interstate bridge in downtown Knoxville each Wednesday evening, rain or shine. The number of homeless, along with low/no income individuals has rapidly increased. LSM chose the location downtown because of proximity to Knoxville’s homeless service organizations, Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC) housing, and homeless neighbors who live outdoors in surrounding areas.

Other services provided under the bridge include a prayer and ministry service, dinner, clothing, and personal hygiene items, as well as twice-a-month dental services.

“One of the volunteers who was in charge of clothes donations said to me, ‘Thank you! We couldn’t do this without volunteers like you all.’ I realized how important it is to volunteer in your community, and the real impact it has on the people you serve. It was evident by the smiles on the faces of the people who were able to get clothes, food, and medicine that they wouldn’t get otherwise. Although she was right, this couldn’t be done without volunteers, the credit goes to the Lost Sheep Ministries who keep this up and running every week,” said Kayla Ramsey (’17).

Taylor Sawyers (’17) said, “It was a humbling but heartbreaking experience that I will never forget.”

“It was rewarding to feel you had assisted in some way,” said Cooper. “Experiential training makes a stronger, well-rounded more empathetic nurse. Completing training in a hospital setting is crucial; however, more and more the care is in the community. Having the experience of providing care in the community is an important skillset to have as a nurse. Students need to be aware of community resources to better provide for their patient’s needs.”

Cooper added, “I highly encourage everyone, especially nurses and nursing students, to volunteer their time with the Lost Sheep Ministry’s Under the Bridge program.”

More information on the Lost Sheep Ministry can be found at


King University is a Presbyterian-affiliated, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information on SCHEV certification, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.