Our History

Service to others, a vital component of the Christian faith, was embraced at a local level in Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) churches for many years through church-based Dorcas Societies.

Dorcas volunteers gathered regularly to mend donated clothing. They would then either use the clothing to minister to local needs or package it for shipment to places stricken by war, famine, or natural disaster.

For an extended period of time, the Collegedale SDA Church (located in Collegedale, Tennessee) maintained an active Dorcas Society that operated from the oldest building on the Southern Adventist University campus. This small society would eventually become the Samaritan Center we know today.

As time progressed, new approaches to helping local people in crisis were explored, efforts that could unite and magnify the endeavors of multiple churches. In 1981, five area SDA churches decided to combine their church-based community service programs in a centralized location. Construction of a building, located on Old Lee Highway in Ooltewah, Tennessee, began in 1983.

Prominent local businessmen Bill Hulsey, Chick Fleming, Harry Hulsey, and several others were pivotal in guiding this process. Kitty King, the leader of the Collegedale Church’s Dorcas Society, also did much to further the cause. Finally, Adventist Community Services (ACS, later to be renamed the Samaritan Center) opened its doors to the public on October 22, 1986.

After nine years, ACS programs and services were prospering so heavily that they overflowed out of the present building and into a series of storage trailers. When the space occupied by a Red Food store in Ooltewah became available, ACS moved to the new location in 1996. The new facility was renamed the Samaritan Center to honor the many community Samaritans who make it possible for the Center to assist people in need by sharing time, money, and donations.

The Samaritan Center employs case workers to determine who is in need of how much assistance, helping people based on their financial situations, not their religious affiliations. The supplies that the Center uses to help others are sometimes purchased with donated funds, sometimes shared by people in the community, and other times collected in drives by area churches, schools, businesses, and other organizations.

The Samaritan Center operates in the spirit of the inn in the biblical story of the Good Samaritan. It is a community resource where individuals and families from more than 70 area agencies, businesses, civic organizations, schools, and churches of all denominations come together to minister to people in crisis.

Board of Directors

The Samaritan Center is grateful for those who generously lend their time, support, advice, and talents to this ministry as board members:

 

CHAIRMAN: Benjamin R. Wygal, PhD – Assistant to the President, Southern Adventist University

 

VICE CHAIRMAN: J. Franklin Farrow – Chief Operating Officer, Independent Healthcare Properties, LLC

 

TREASURER: Julie Hyde, Ph.D., C.P.A. – Professor of Business and Management, Southern Adventist University

 

SECRETARY: Tony Dahlberg – Executive Director, the Samaritan Center

 

Kurt Allen – Vice President for Finance, Georgia Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

 

Herbert E. Coolidge – Retired professor and businessman

 

Kris Eckenroth – Pastor of Discipleship and Community, Collegedale Seventh-day Adventist Church

 

Danny Garcia – C.E.O., Deron LLC / CA-TN

 

Bruce Jacobs – General Manager, Collegedale Adventist Book Center

 

Peter Kulakov – Senior Pastor, Ooltewah Seventh-day Adventist Church

 

Kitty McGhinnis

 

Sonia Wrate – Assistant Professor of Community Nursing, Southern Adventist University

 

We appreciate our board members!

Staff

Erin Barthle

Assistant to the Executive Director

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Dale Cady

Receptionist

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Tony Dahlberg

Executive Director

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Keith Heming

Director of Operations

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Bethany Hills

Volunteer Coordinator

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Debra Johnson

Operations Manager

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Lisa Parker

Network Administrator

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Amber Sarno

Communication Specialist

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Eddie Schwisow

Communication Director

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Sharon Smith-Hensley

Social Services Director

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Debbie Wright

Volunteer & Operations Support

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Seventh-day Adventists Believe…

Though religious beliefs play no role in the Samaritan Center’s provision of services, our ministry was founded on Seventh-day Adventist principles and is affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Some of the key beliefs of the Adventist Church include the following:

The Bible is the word of God.
God has a plan for our lives.
Jesus is the Son of God.
God cares about the quality of our lives.
God wants to spend time with us.

A complete listing of the Seventh-day Adventist beliefs may be found on the Church Website.

Annual Report

Our mission is to meet the basic physical, spiritual, and social needs of people in our area, using the ministry of Jesus as our model.

To learn more about how we were honored to serve in 2016, view the complete 2016 Annual Report here.