Growth & Connection

Seeds & Bridges

Join like-minded brothers and sisters in serving the needs of our communities

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About Our Organization

Seeds & Bridges is Yassin’s new non-profit vision, named so because he says that seeds grow into thriving plants and bridges connect communities.

Yassin has continually sown seeds in his Falafel House as he has lifted his employees to rebuild lives after seasons of despair.

He has also built bridges with the community in the years he has been in Knoxville, being named Reader’s Digest “Nicest Place in America” and awarded the 2018 Rotary Peace Prize.

Yassin who came to the United States and Knoxville from Syria says, “I came here with nothing and so many people helped me. I want to help others and I want the community to keep repeating this after me.”

The Seeds and Bridges Approach

Yassin wants to expand how he has used his business acumen and love of fellowman into a community-wide service that allows like-minded people to work together to serve our brothers and sisters in need. He will be joined by a wonderful board of Directors that includes Nadeem Siddiqi, a local business developer, Adrienne Webster, CPA, Natalie Rice, PhD, Research Associate at UT, and Dirk Sampselle, JD, MBA.

Yassin has always served as a beacon of hope for those needing to restart their lives, from providing a job to helping them find a place to live. Donations to fund this project will help people needing to restart their lives from refugees to rehabilitated addicts and people who have served time.

Now Seeds & Bridges will expand his vision to serve the community by increasing this service to the homeless community.



Community First

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Our Vision For A Brighter Tomorrow

Starting with a new pop-up project and or a food truck that will employ those needing a job. Our goal is to teach them the skills so they can reach their own dreams and continue to give back to the community. The non-profit will work to feed those in need during everyday life and during times of emergency. We will also serve customers to provide income to the non-profit, so we don’t have to solely rely on donations.

Community support and donations will provide the ability for the pop-up and food truck to serve first responders and victims when local disasters occur and provide necessities like food and water when they are not easily accessible. There are many other projects in the vision of Seeds & Bridges that aren’t just food related. This will allow us to help even more people and explore new projects by hiring people in need and giving back to the community.

Eventually, Yassin sees his vision expanding internationally, but for now, his focus is on our community as his open doors have always shown love and compassion for those in need.

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Our Board

Yassin Terou

Yassin Terou



Mr. Yassin Terou arrived in 2010 from Damascus, Syria, and by the time he became a US citizen a decade later in 2020, never had any intention of leaving Syria. His family was there. Work. Friends. But war forced him to leave it all behind. He relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee, with a suitcase and a few hundred dollars. He spoke no English and knew no one in the United States.

Since then his kindness, enthusiasm, hard work, and generosity have earned him more awards and recognitions than most of us see in a lifetime.  In 2014, Yassin opened Yassin’s Falafel House in downtown Knoxville and dedicated the space to be welcoming to people of “all sizes, all colors, all ages, all sexes, all cultures, all religions, all types, all beliefs.”  He works tirelessly to help the Knoxville community, including many without permanent homes who suffer from hunger.  

In 2018, Yassin’s Falafel House was recognized by Reader’s Digest and ABC’s Good Morning America as the “Nicest Place in America.”  The same year his shop was also chosen as the Knoxville News Sentinel’s Best Middle Eastern Food, he opened a second shop, he received the 2018 Peace Award from Knoxville’s Rotary Club, and he was named the 2018 News Sentinel Person of the Year.  

Since then he has won the Pinnacle Award from the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, was named Knoxvillian of the Year in 2019, presided over the inauguration of Knoxville’s new mayor, and won more awards than there is room here to list.  He has also, though, through it all, maintained his generous spirit and tireless work ethic.  

He has fed children in need in Knoxville; fed hurricane victims with a pop-up kitchen in Nashville, and used his fame to help countless others in Knoxville and beyond. 

Dr. Natalie Rice

Dr. Natalie Rice



Dr. Natalie Rice, a native of Belarus, is a researcher at the CCI Research & Innovation Center at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her research is focused on the use of digital and social media disinformation, propaganda, and other information warfare techniques used by state actors targeting the U.S. and foreign audiences.

Natalie earned both her Master’s Degree and Ph.D. from UT. She has been interviewed by local and national media outlets, including CNN and a nationally syndicated radio show Background Briefings with Ian Masters.

Her passion for educating the public and sharing her knowledge has been highlighted through a series of public speaking engagements, including the League of Women Voters, Knoxville Bar Association, Knoxville’s Executive Women’s Association, Rotary Club, and the Howard Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.

For her efforts in sharing with the Knoxville community her knowledge of international affairs and issues related to modern-day disinformation and propaganda, she was selected as a finalist for the 2017 YWCA Tribute to Women award in the category “Arts and Education”.

Natalie lives in Knoxville with her husband Dean and two step-daughters. For several years, she and her husband Dean Rice have hosted Iftar Dinners at their home to promote intercultural and interfaith dialogue in the Knoxville community.

Adrienne Webster

Adrienne Webster



Adrienne Webster is a Knoxville native who obtained her BA from the University of Tennessee in 2000. After working in the downtown business community for 5 years, she opened her firm, AOW Tax & Accounting in 2008. Although she has clients city-wide, her firm has focused on the greater downtown community.

Adrienne is an advocate for the small business community and believes that all businesses should be given the resources to thrive, regardless of their ability to pay. She offers free business consultations to anyone who contacts her. Since 2016, she has volunteered her expertise by speaking twice a year in the Co-Starters Program at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center. She has also been a part of numerous Expert Sessions at the Makers City Summit. Most recently, Adrienne was the lead accountant for the “What’s The CARES” webinar series that helped small businesses navigate the CARES Act and PPP Loans.

Adrienne has always been active in the Knoxville Community and currently serves as Board President of Knox Heritage, the Treasurer of the Downtown Knoxville Alliance, the Treasurer of the Historic Fort Sanders Neighborhood Association and the Fort Sanders Community Development Corporation and is the treasurer and founding member of BreastStrokes Knoxville.

Nadeem Siddiqi

Nadeem Siddiqi

board member


Ustadh Nadeem Siddiqi grew up in Knoxville where he has lived since 1977. He graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Economics in 2002 and from Tayseer Seminary in 2016 in its first class.

He serves on the Board of Directors for the Muslim Community of Knoxville, Annoor Academy of Knoxville, Tayseer Seminary, and the Association of Muslim Chaplains. He serves as adjunct faculty for Tayseer Seminary where he teaches a course in community activism.

Ustadh Nadeem serves as a Muslim Chaplain in the local prisons and at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville for the Muslim Student Association. Ustadh Nadeem is a local investor and advisor to businesses ranging from healthcare, IT services, real estate, and hospitality industries.

Dirk Sampselle

Dirk Sampselle

board member


DIRK R. SAMPSELLE, ESQ. Managing Attorney

Dirk is a California attorney and internationally recognized authority on B Corporations and impact investing.

As a Drafting Author of the Benefit Corporation legislative memorandum, he was instrumental in the development of the Benefit Corporation legal entity now passed in over 30 American jurisdictions. His thought leadership and impact investment endeavors have been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Forbes, and Emory Law Journal.

Mr. Sampselle has served as General Counsel to several leading impact enterprises, including

    • Everytable, a Los Angeles-based venture-funded growth company focused on making healthy food affordable for all; and
    • PAMCO, a Washington D.C.-based investment firm including an SEC-registered Investment Advisor, a FINRA-registered Broker-Dealer, clean technology venture capital funds, ERISA pension fund separate accounts, a financial advisory consulting firm, and a variety of subsidiary investment vehicles.

Dirk earned his BA from the University of Florida and earned his JD and MBA as a Dean’s Scholar at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA, where he studied corporate governance under Myron Steele, the then-presiding Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court.

Dirk is also a dedicated husband to his wife Heather and dog-dad to a golden retriever puppy. Dirk serves as a Board member of the Frederick Community Action Agency, which is a public-private partnership that provides food, shelter, medical care, housing, and other forms of assistance to families and individuals who are low-income or homeless.


July 2011 – present

Dirk has authored articles for publications including the peer-reviewed Emory Law Journal, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and several professional trade publications.

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