Heartland Services began in Newport, TN in 1976 as Douglas Cooperative, Inc., the name reflecting the three counties surrounding Douglas Lake. By 1978, our day centers were serving individuals in Cocke, Jefferson and Sevier Counties. In the next 2 years a men’s and then a women’s group home were opened. By 1980, the agency was supporting people with disabilities to live more independently in their own apartments. In 1981, the Blount County center was incorporated into the agency. In 1984, supported living homes were opened in Jefferson City, Maryville and Newport. In 1985, two pre-school programs began serving children deemed “at risk,” providing an enhanced learning environment along with typically developing children.
In 1986 the agency’s day centers created employment training programs that helped individuals earn money while learning valuable work skills. Over the next several years, the school-to-work transition program was developed and expanded with overwhelming success. By the 1990s and into the 2000s, community participation, volunteering and competitive employment became the norm. The agency began providing ECF/CHOICES services in 2015. Two years later the agency changed its name to Heartland Services, to better reflect our array of services and our mission. Fundraising has been an important part of our operation. Over the years, our fundraisers have included an annual horse show, a mini-golf tournament hosted by Ripley’s, Heels & Wheels Duathlon in conjunction with Knoxville Leadership Foundation, Smoky Mountain Celebration, United Way Dragon Boat Races on Douglas Lake, proceeds from meals sold by area restaurants, and many other fundraisers. We are grateful for the outpouring of support from so many businesses and members of our community.