Compassion with purpose

Every day, Patrick White prays that he can put himself out of business. Because he hopes that someday, there will be no need for Steps House. That people won’t have to recover from addiction and homelessness. Until then, however, Patrick and his wife, and the scores of people who work or volunteer with them, are ready with unconditional love.

Patrick White and Sandy White founded Steps House on November 21, 1991. Steps House began with two homes on Boggs Avenue in Knoxville, with 10 men being helped. A quarter-century later, Steps House has helped thousands of people. Today, it operates 38 homes with 140 beds. Many of the staff members and volunteers are people who started in the program and turned their lives around.

But there are always more people in trouble who need help.

A native of Knoxville, TN, Patrick enlisted in the United States Navy after graduating high school, at the end of the Vietnam War in 1972. His service helped him understand the problems many veterans face, and it motivated him to create a specialized program in Steps House to help veterans. As the nation moves toward a goal of eliminating veteran homelessness, Steps House is making a key contribution. In 1998, The Department of Veterans Affairs contracted the Steps House to provide service to homeless veterans. Forty of the beds at the Steps House are solely dedicated to homeless veterans.

And his personal battle with addiction until the 1980s helps him know what many residents are going through in a daily struggle. Patrick overcame his problem with the help of others. And he focused his life on passing on this service.

In 2005, Patrick White was given a lifetime achievement award for his dedication to the homeless population in Knoxville and the surrounding 19 counties. The Veterans Administration has also recognized Steps House with awards for its excellent work with homeless veterans.

In June of 2013, Patrick founded the Drunk Church Ministries, a Church dedicated to the recovering community of Knoxville. In November of 2014, he became an ordained minister and is now one of the pastors.

He is an avid trout fisherman and loves the outdoors.

And his daily prayer is that one day the Steps House services will no longer be necessary.

Rev. Patrick White & his wife Sandy
Rev. Patrick White & his wife Sandy