Building Partner Profile: From a broken heart to heart connection

Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center at St. Andrews is a community of activists, artists and people of faith. This is the first in a regular series of blogs highlighting the various building partners who are part of our community.


Heart Connection

By Beth Foster, Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center Director

Tonita Jenkin’s baby was born with a broken heart that doctors said would never mend.

But, Tonita and her son, Jordan, received a miracle. Eighteen years later, she wants to give to those whose miracle may not have been as complete as the one Jordan received. And that’s the reason she opened Heart Connection Adult Day Care Center in the Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center.

It was a perfect pregnancy. There was no indication that anything was wrong. But, the moment Jordan was born, everything changed. The new mom and baby were on their way to Vanderbilt University Hospital when Jordan was just two days old.

Jordan was born with complex congenital heart defect, corrected transposition of the great arteries, pulmonary stenosis, and ventricular septal defect.

His heart was broken.

Today, a recent high school graduate, Jordan is a strong and healthy young man. But, that’s not the case for many adults who have undergone conditions similar to Jordan’s medical issues. More and more babies with conditions like Jordan’s are surviving, but may never be able to enjoy complete independence.

“These kids need a place they can go,” Tonita said, and that’s the Heart Connection that was created out Jordan’s mended heart.

Tonita has many years experience in care giving for adults who need assistance with daily living, beginning her career caring for clients in their homes in 2000. During the years that have passed since then, she dreamed of opening a center – the kind of center she imagined Jordan would need. “Having been so blessed that he doesn’t need it, I still want to provide it to those who do need it,” Tonita said.

The mission of Heart Connection is: “to be the most loving, safe, secure and nurturing environment for clients who have been identified by family members and/or health care professionals as needing a social environment, consistent supervision, and assistance performing their activities of daily living.”

Adults who come to the center have the opportunity to interact with peers. This is important, Tonita said, because so often they have been isolated socially. The colors of the center are brilliant purples, reds and golds. “I want them to feel like royalty,” Tonita said of the décor.

Heart Connection is for adults ages 18 and older who need assistance with daily activities, such as preparing their food, feeding themselves, going to the restroom – or who simply need supervision. A continental breakfast is served, a hot home-cooked lunch and an afternoon snack.

Programs at Heart Connection are individualized but include:

  • Mental stimulation through games such as bingo, dominoes, scrabble and more.
  • Arts and crafts.
  • Knitting/sewing.
  • Indoor golfing.
  • Wii Contests.
  • Karaoke.
  • Pet Therapy.
  • Pool and foosball.
  • And much more!

The center is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, with evening hours and weekends available by request. For more information about Heart Connection Adult Day Care Center, call 423.305.0487 or email


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