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Our Wonderful Staff

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Reico Hopewell, Founder/Executive Director

 Reico Hopewell, a native of Knoxville, TN, is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Mend House Sober Living Community for individuals. The Mend House opened in 2015 and is a newly determined 501c3 charitable organization. The Mend House is focused on mending lives via education, employment, accountability, mentoring and spiritual guidance. The Mend House has decreased the recidivism and relapse rates for many of its residents and has supported the health and economics of the Knoxville community.

Mr. Hopewell is also the founder and owner of Hopewell A&D Counseling LLC, a private practice in which he facilitates alcohol and drug counseling for individuals, groups, families, DCS, DHS, DOT, the FAA and judicial system.

Mr. Hopewell is the founder and CEO of Hopewell Helping Hands Inc. HHH was created for the purpose of offering an opportunity for employment for those who may have a less than perfect background. HHH is dedicated to empowering its employees to serve customers who need minor repairs and upgrades to their homes or business.

Mr. Hopewell has 12 years of clinical experience and holds an Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor license from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health. Additionally, he holds a National Certified Addictions Counselor certification from the National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals and a Substance Abuse Professional certification from The Association of Addictions Professionals. He holds a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist certification from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. In addition, he holds a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor from the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium.

Mr. Hopewell’s faith in God and passion to help others has earned him the “Community Champion Award” presented by the Metro Drug Coalition and the Overcomer Believers Church’s “OBC Heroes” award.

He has served as Vice Chairman and Chairman for the Metro Drug Coalition and is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the E.M. Jellinek Center. He recently graduated from Leadership Knoxville’s Class of 2021. Additionally, Mr. Hopewell is also a board member for the Trinity Health Foundation of East Tennessee, the Boys and Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley and the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee.


Walter Simpson, Assistant Director

I’m originally from Newport Tennessee. I transitioned to Knoxville, TN in July 2016 to the Mend House Sober Living  Community. In February of 2017, I began working for the Mend House as the community manager assisting the property manager and helped holding residents to community guidelines. As of 2018, I became the property manager of the Mend House and am currently the assistant director.  Also while training for my license to become a certified alcoholic and drug counselor. 


As a graduate of the Fourth Judicial Drug Court, I have personal experience attempting to change my life around. I was given all the necessary tools readily available to help me succeed. It was through my own journey and having the proper support that I decided I wanted others to achieve so much more than what they were accustomed to. I wanted to arm myself with the knowledge, support network, and genuine love that was given to me along my journey. 


Today because of the support given to me, I am a proud father, son, brother, uncle, and grandson.


Matthew Lynn, Support Staff

My name is Matthew Lynn, and I am from Paragould, Arkansas. I came to the Mend House Sober living community in June 2017. I was 40 years old, broken and desperate for a new way to live. And thanks to Reico and Walter, I have found such a life: a life with purpose and meaning, better than I could’ve ever imagined. 

I know I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work for the people who saved my life, and show them this new life that was given to me. I do not take my responsibility to these men, lightly. I make sure these men have a safe environment, are able to make meetings and other various appointments, and always have an ear that’ll listen. I am currently studying for my license to become a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor, As well as maintaining my own personal sobriety.


Lucas Cradic, Support Staff

My name is Lucas Cradic and I am from Kingsport, Tennessee. One of the very first people I met on my journey of recover was Reico Hopewell in 2011. I have had the opportunity to be a part of the Mend House at every level. I was a resident of the Mend House off and on for multiple years from 2017 through 2021. I am so thankful for Reico, Walter, Matthew and The Mend House for standing by me during my troubles as well as my triumphs. It is because of Reico and The Mend House that I have decided to help others and to study to become a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor. 


Having gone through my personal battles with addiction and recovery, today I can better serve men that are seeking help at The Mend House. I am grateful for a job that brings meaning and purpose to my life, that pushes me to grow in my recovery and also allows me to be a part of men’s lives to help guide them in their journey to recovery. I believe that everything that I went through has a purpose and has made me the man that God has planned for me to be today. I am so grateful and thankful for the opportunity to be of service to The Mend House and to the Knoxville community. Today because of a loving God, family, fellowship, and friends I am able to be a father and a productive man in society.

 Board of Directors

Matt Kittrell, Chairman


Matt Kittrell is the Director & Leader of CGI’s IT and Business Consulting Services Delivery Center in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee. Prior to joining CGI, Matt was with IBM & Concentrix for over 20 years, where he built a successful career in management consulting by delivering best-in-class IT and business solutions for a broad portfolio of Fortune 500 clients. Matt holds Bachelor of Economics and Master of Business Administration degrees from the University of Tennessee’s Haslam College of Business. He currently holds a seat on the Steering Committee for the GIVE/KC3 (Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education/Knox County Careers Collaborative) Grant and through his role with CGI has been involved in a number of initiatives to deliver STEM education and programming to under-served youth. Matt, a native East Tennessean, resides in Knoxville with his wife, Ellie, and three sons. His personal recovery journey spans 10+ years during which he has been active and a leader in 12 step-based recovery ministries.

Heidi Shafer Shuler, Vice-Chairman,


Heidi Shafer Shuler is a Knoxville native. She graduated from Wake Forest University with a degree in Elementary Education. She taught for eight years at Rocky Hill, and presently teaches preschool at West Hills Baptist.


Heidi has a heart for helping those that need it the most. She is a volunteer at Joni and Friends. She is a member of Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church, where she teaches Sunday school and serves at Serenity Shelter. She’s married to Chris Shuler and has two children, Christopher (21) and Blakely (18).

Blake Venable, Treasurer


Blake Venable is an accountant, small business owner, and mental health advocate. He is the owner of Blake’s Bookkeeping and Business Branding of whom manages the finances and marketing for over 80 companies, including 7 nonprofits. He is also the co-owner of CMJ Painting LLC which is located in Maryville, TN. Blake enjoys utilizing his business and financial expertise to help individuals put their business ideas into action. In addition to his passion for working with small businesses, Blake is passionate about helping people recover from substance use. As someone with over 11 years in recovery, he utilizes his personal experience to empower others to make personal lifestyle changes that put them on the path to healing.

Shanna Browning, Secretary

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Shanna Browning has been in the financial industry for over 28 years, and currently works as a portfolio manager and community outreach specialist for First Century Bank. Outside of her work in industry finance, Shanna also teaches a financial wellness class at the University of Tennessee
each semester.


Shanna is also an incredibly involved community volunteer. She is the immediate past president and current board member of Dogwood Arts, board member and campaign cabinet member for United Way of Greater Knoxville, the co-chair for Festival on Market Square, the volunteer
coordinator for the Big Kahuna Wing Fest, on the volunteer committee for Southern Skies Music Festival, and a volunteer for numerous other non-profits in her spare time.

Heather Reyda, Board Member

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Heather Reyda was raised in Knoxville, TN having graduated from Bearden High School and attending The University of Tennessee.

Lt. Reyda began her career in Corrections with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office in October 1993. She was promoted to Corporal in 1997. In 1998, she attended the Knox County Sheriff’s Office Basic Police Academy and was elected by her peers as Class President. In 1999, Lt. Reyda was transferred to the Patrol division, earning Patrol Officer of the Month twice, and was promoted to Patrol Sergeant in 2004. In 2007, she was transferred to the Major Crimes Unit where she investigated all major crimes against people, including but not limited to, homicide, rape, kidnapping, and assault, and earning Detective of the Month on four occasions. She remained in Major Crimes until the end of 2017 when she was promoted to Lieutenant in Juvenile Investigations. In 2018, Lt. Reyda became a part of the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Traffic Area (AHIDTA) Drug Related Death Task Force, where she is currently assigned and investigates drug related deaths.

To date, Lt. Reyda has been assigned over 5000 cases stemming from major crimes and drug related deaths.

Marcus Hall, Board Member

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Marcus Hall was born in Knoxville, TN on June 1st, 1970. He learned how to sew through a vocational program at Austin East High, however he transferred and graduated from Central High School in 1989. After receiving his license from The Knoxville Institute of Hair Design in 1991, he owned and operated a hair salon in East Knoxville until 2004. He went on to use his entrepreneurial and sewing skills to open "Marc Nelson Denim," a small-batch craft denim brand centered on the experience of each customer. Marcus is a proud father of two daughters: Kharma and Indigo, 18 and 4 years old, respectively. Passionate for helping people look and be the best "themselves" they can be, Marcus Hall aims to restore and retain our community's staple properties a part of our history.  

Charles Bible, Board Member


Charles Thomas "Charley" Bible is vice president of business development at KaTom Restaurant Supply and has been in executive leadership at the company through its rise from a minor player to No. 6 in its industry in sales volume.


Charley began working at the company, which was founded by his parents in their home garage in Russellville, while he was still a student at Morristown East High School. After graduating at the top of his class, he attended Furman University and Georgia State University, earning a bachelor's degree with high honors in business administration and finance from the latter.

As he planned his first professional moves, he was recruited by some of KaTom's manufacturing partners but ultimately opted to take on creating an adaptive culture at the family business. As lean coordinator, he reinvented processes and systems, equipping the company for the meteoric growth it experienced in the last couple decades.

Aly Taylor, Board Member


Aly Taylor has worked in substance use prevention and recovery space for 10 years and continues to serve as a change agent in communities across East Tennessee. Originally from Los Angeles, CA, Aly graduated with a Master of Public Health degree and relocated to Knoxville for an opportunity as Project Director with Metro Drug Coalition where she led community outreach efforts that focused on the necessity of  primary prevention in reducing substance misuse. 


Aly continued her career path as Senior Operations Manager with Mindoula that provided collaborative recovery care to pregnant women that are substance exposed. Covering the East TN region, she learned that some of the largest barriers for health and recovery care was housing and transportation. Walking by faith, Aly launched Make A Way Transport and has provided over 3500 rides to healthcare and treatment facilities in Middle and East Tennessee. Aly is a member of Faith Promise Church Farragut and a proud mother of two boys Kayden (13) and Landon (7). 


Pinky Ross, Board Member

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Pinky Ross was born and raised in Knoxville, TN the third of six children born to amazing parents. She is a graduate of Austin East High School, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and a Minor in Child and Family Studies. Pinky is a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator and she is also currently enrolled at Johnson University to obtain her Masters in Leadership and Ethics.

Pinky’s desire to serve led her to begin her career as a Registered Nurse 22 years ago with Covenant Health where she continues her career currently serving as a Nursing Home Administrator for Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center. Pinky is a member of Overcoming Believers Church, a Licensed Minister at Overcoming Believers Church and has served as the Media Director for Overcoming Believers Church for over ten years. She has served as the Back Stage Manager for the Girl Talk Annual Gala for 5 years and has served with Rev/12 Publications since 2000.

Pinky is married to Brandon Ross and they have two adult children and three grandchildren. “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for so many.” Matthew 10:28

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