Hometown Heroes: Raising a Voice gives vulnerable women in the Knoxville community a voice, paving a way forward with hope and support
It’s one thing to see struggle and pain, it’s quite another to fight against it. Knoxvillians Will and Katie Boggs fight daily for women who have faced trafficking, exploitation, substance abuse, homelessness, and domestic abuse. And they do so through the organization they founded back in 2015 called Raising a Voice. Utilizing the Magnolia Women’s Center in East Knoxville, Will, Katie, and their team help meet the needs of the women they serve and work with them to take tangible steps that allow them to move forward.
“We really focus on building a strong community amongst the women that we serve, so that they can grieve and mourn together,” Will says, “but being able to celebrate when women enter into housing, or head to sobriety, or get into rehab, or take positive steps moving forward with jobs, those are great ways that we get to rally around them from a case management perspective.”
The concept of Raising a Voice was born when Will and Katie traveled over the course of a year to 150 anti-trafficking organizations in over 20 countries. This led them to open establishments starting in Kenya and Argentina. In 2018 they began in Knoxville and then Rwanda in 2020.
“We really just felt compelled to not only act on a global level, but act on a local level,” Will says, “some of the same challenges we’re addressing overseas are right in our backyard, or here in the United States as a whole and wanted to make sure that we weren’t turning a blind eye to the needs locally.”
“We take an approach not just towards changing one life, but our goal is to impact entire communities. “ Will Boggs
The name, Raising a Voice, came about because, as Boggs puts it, “all people have stories, all people have lives, and we all face challenges. And when we’re in relationship with some of these women, and we’re in proximity to them, we’re allowed to learn and through relationship we’re allowed to hear their stories. Then we can use our voices and help raise their voice.”
Raising a Voice focuses on three core beliefs which is for their non-profit to be sustainable, relational, and radical. One way that showcases this is their two coffee shops located in Knoxville: Likewise Coffee, and Cultivate + Flowers coffee. The proceeds of these two establishments fill as a sustainable resource for Raising a Voice.
Boggs shared his interest in business and how the non-profit has been able to intertwine that into their ministry. “I think our encouragement to people in general is to find what they’re passionate about,” Will says. “There’s a lot of ways to make an impact in the world. So find what you’re passionate about and then find ways that that passion can make a positive impact in our city- in our world as a whole. “
To learn more about the non-profit or how to get involved check out their website: www.raisingavoice.org