Last year, the Senior Citizens Center provided services to more than 500 people in Clark County. Community Outreach, just this month, has assisted about 48 people with utilities and rent costs.
Those are just two of the programs offered in Clark County through the Kentucky River Foothills Development Council, a community action agency that has been helping those with a variety of low-income needs and is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
And everything first started in Winchester, where the first central office opened in 1962 before it moved to its current location in Richmond.
Karen Bailey, public information director for Kentucky River Foothills, said in an email the early years of organization were “characterized by grassroots organizing.”
“Neighborhood groups were brought together and formed councils and committees which assessed community needs and formulated action plans,” she wrote. “Ideas for community improvement were brought before local government bodies, state agencies and federal funding sources. Some of the plans called for early childhood education in the days when public schooling started at seven years of age, for single-family housing for the low-income when only forlorn ‘projects’ were available, and for job training when there were few or non-existent efforts to train adults for the world of work.”
The organization has grown significantly in 50 years. In 1985, according to Bailey, the agency had a budget of less than $3 million, and last year its budget was more than $22 million. It now has more than 65 programs in place to help people and families in need.
In Clark County, its programs also include Head Start, Family Preservation and Reunification, Healthy Marriage and Relationship classes, and Responsible Fatherhood classes. It also has a bus to help people get around in the community.
The Senior Services Center at the Generations Center provides services including home-delivered meals, health screenings, homemaker services and transportation.
Julie Woosley, Generations Center director, said the Senior Services Center has grown and changed tremendously over the years.
“It started out as a nutrition feeding program and now it’s branched out to many different services,” she said.
Without those services, Woosley said, a lot more seniors in the community would have to leave their homes a lot earlier.
“I think these programs afford them the opportunity to stay in their homes longer, delay nursing home placement, and it also improves their quality of life,” she said. “So many seniors who’ve attended the programs here will say that.”
Beverly Daugherty, who has worked for Kentucky River Foothills for about 27 years and is now the Community Uutreach coordinator, said the program has made a tremendous difference in Clark County.
“Sometimes I’m the only one that has funds that are available,” she said.
Services provided through Community Outreach include utilities and rent assistance, and referrals.
Over the years, Daugherty said, she has seen Kentucky River Foothills evolve and grow.
“I started out as a home care aid, and went to transportation … for about 15 years, and then transferred from transportation — driving the van — to dispatching, and from there to the uutreach office,” she said, adding that a lot more programs have been added to the organization. “Because there weren’t that many when I started. They’ve got programs that I really don’t know anything about.”
If Kentucky River Foothills programs were not in Clark County, Daugherty said, “I don’t know what people would do.”
“Because so many of the agencies just don’t have the funds to help, or the churches,” she said.
The actual anniversary date for Kentucky River Foothills is Oct. 22. Bailey said those who work with the organization are proud to celebrate those 50 years of helping people.
“As the area’s largest human service agency addressing poverty, this year we are reminded why we were established and how many lives we have changed over the years,” she said. “We work tirelessly to reduce poverty among local families and individuals while working to counteract, and whenever possible eliminate, the societal conditions that cause and perpetuate poverty.”
Kentucky River Foothills, Woosley said, is a strong agency that’s going to stay within the communities it serves.
“That’s going to be able to be here and help people … in their time of need,” she said. For more information about Kentucky River Foothills, visit www.foothillscap.org/index.html.
Contact Katie Perkowski at firstname.lastname@example.org.