About two years ago, Cash was experiencing health issues and was told he would likely have to have a liver transplant at some point in his life. It was at that point he made a decision about the impact he would have on others.
Cash explained that he began hearing of individuals in Garrard and neighboring counties in dire need, from elderly individuals without food, to children.
“I’m 6’3”, 210, and I’ve hit my knees a few times going in some of these homes,” he said. “I just couldn’t believe how people were living.”
He would post needs, no names, on Facebook, seeking help from those in his network. Within days, hours, sometimes minutes of posting those needs online, the needs would be met. The responses continued to grow, as Cash was getting contacted by those in charge of area food pantries, organizations, private citizens and local businesses in Garrard County.
“We live in one of the best communities we could ever live in. There’s not a group, organization or business that hasn’t helped in some way,” Cash said.
Eventually, he gained a reputation for his efforts to help others and was contacted by Gary Durham, president of the Garrard County Ministerial Association, to work with the Garrard County Food Pantry, which the association facilitates. The pantry is tax-exempt and tax-deductible and is located in the old Garrard Middle School. The fourth Thursday of the month is when individuals are able to visit the pantry. Cash became the director of the pantry, calling himself the “agitator and instigator” of the group dubbed the Angel Team,
The donations from people have stacked up, enabling about 175 children to be sponsored for Christmas. The connections began expanding beyond the county and state lines, too, insuring donations regionally from a hardware store in Harrodsburg and even as far away as Arizona, California and Utah.
Many times, the local items are brought to Cash in secret, either delivered to the pantry or to his home. One time, he explained, he had put out a plea for some bedroom furniture for a family. Later, when his wife went outside to leave for work, there were four full bedroom suits sitting in their yard, blocking her departure.
Another time, he explained, a family was in need of food. Due to restrictions with the commodity foods, volunteers were unable to give away the meat that was at the pantry, so Cash put out the plea on Facebook. Within 10 minutes, he said, there was someone knocking on the door with meat to take to the family, which was added to the other items already boxed up.
“I’m just a messenger. Those people you see next door, they’re the true heroes,” he said, referring to others working in the food pantry, prepping it for the Thursday distribution. Cash stressed that there are many heroes, including two of his good friends, Mark Hurte, director of the Central Kentucky Regional Humane Society, and Neal James, known for being Turtleman’s sidekick on the “Call of the Wildman” TV show.
Some members of the Angel Team also began doing more than just getting necessities for people. The team has done home repairs, fundraising efforts for local families and provided for about 50 seniors monthly, separate from the food pantry.
His willingness to help others has also landed Cash on several organizations and boards in Garrard County, including the Solid Waste Management Board, Garrard Rural Heritage Festival, Senior Citizens Advisory Board and the Local Emergency Planning Committee.
While it doesn’t always happen, many of the families Cash and his Angel Team have helped followed suit, by coming to help at the food pantry or volunteering for other work. That is something Cash said he enjoys seeing, as he encourages others to “pay it forward.”
Along with his many volunteer activities, Cash is also a photographer. While he said he has always loved photography, it wasn’t until his wife bought him a camera about three years ago that he really tried his hand at it.
“Once you pick up that lens, there’s no ugly, there’s no stress. For whatever reason, you see things differently than anyone else normally would,” he explained. “It’s just a different world.”
Using the second camera she got him, he won a Farm Bureau photography contest. That expanded, as he began shooting for the Garrard County Fairgrounds and has also submitted photos for the Garrard Central Record and The Advocate-Messenger. Cash is also a volunteer photographer for Christian Care Center.
His Facebook page is filled with the photos he’s taken, from the Heritage Festival to weddings, and everything in between. Part of the appeal, he said, connects to his love of people.
“I love going out into crowds and just catch people being people,” he said with a smile.
However, it extends beyond humans, to the natural world, too. One of his favorite places to photograph is Logan-Hubble Memorial Park, which sits off of U.S. 27 south of Lancaster.
Cash explained that it is common to see a variety of wildlife out there, including deer, turkey, foxes and various birds.
“You can be all stressed out, wound up, pick a camera up, go outside and forget about it,” Cash said.
Of course, he uses his rediscovered passion to help those in need. Cash chronicles the visits to homes in pictures, in order to maintain transparency with those who are donating.
Out of all of his involvement, Cash stresses he simply can’t believe some of what he has seen in the community. He credits some of the conditions to being matters of pride, individuals being unwilling to ask for help. In other cases, Cash said, some don’t believe anyone wants to help, something he has been told in the past. During one delivery, the recipients couldn’t believe what they were being given.
“His words? ‘We can’t believe somebody cares,’” Cash said.