Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Pam Smith, director of Partnership FCA/Deaf Services on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020.

Expressing a need can be difficult in hard times, especially when there is an existing communication barrier.

According to Pam Smith, director of Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing Services at the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults, the organization helps distribute $10,000 to $15,000 in Times Free Press Neediest Cases funding to families each year.

A portion of those donations goes to local deaf residents who have unique concerns and often communicate through American Sign Language when reaching out for assistance.

Earlier this year a local deaf woman and her family reached out to Smith's office and received a donation from Neediest Cases after her husband survived being in a hospital intensive care unit for almost two months after an abdominal aneurysm.

While her husband was out of work and she missed hours to help care for him, the Partnership helped the family restructure their budget, while the donation supplemented their reduced income to help pay that month's rent.

With countless stories like this, for Smith, a main goal is to help clients find stability, whether that be through securing transportation, a job, housing or food, and the Neediest Cases Fund is a vital piece of a larger puzzle of resources in the area.

(Donate to the Neediest Cases Fund here)

Other Ways to Donate

Note: Under the CARES Act, taxpayers who don't itemize deductions may take a deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions made in 2020 to charitable organizations.

Send the following information and a check to United Way of Greater Chattanooga. Please note that the donation is for Neediest Cases and mail to United Way, 630 Market St., Chattanooga, TN 37402.
Enclosed is a donation for $
Donor Acknowledgement options:
In honor of:
In memory of:

All donations will be acknowledged by mail and in the newspaper. Please state if you do not want us to publish a name in the list of contributors. Donations will be accepted through Dec. 31.

"As an agency, as a nonprofit in the city, we heavily rely on it," she said. "Without it, I don't know what we would do. It's such an important piece of the puzzle of what we know is out there. And we would not complete our client's puzzle without it."

And in her office, all workers are required to know ASL, in addition to providing resources such as video calls in their commitment with those with hearing concerns.

"Communication accessibility is not a barrier when they reach out to us," Smith said. "So they are typically freer to express their needs. When they call in to us, it's just easier to communicate."

The Neediest Cases Fund, fueled by donations from Times Free Press readers, was started in 1914 by Adolph Ochs, previous publisher of The New York Times and the Chattanooga Times.

The local fund is managed by the United Way of Greater Chattanooga and distributed to people in need who are referred by partner agencies, such as The Partnership.

Recipients are typically required to be employed to receive help from the fund, which fulfills basic needs such as housing, utilities and food for those who need one-time help to become self-sufficient.

Last year, readers donated $46,569.86 to the annual fund, a significant increase over the 2018 total of $41,827.70. So far, donations for 2020 are ahead of totals from the same time in 2019.

Read more stories about 2020 fund recipients at

Contact Tierra Hayes at

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Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Pam Smith, director of Partnership FCA/Deaf Services on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020.