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Agencies point people toward the help they need

Daily News - 4/9/2017

As Bowling Green has grown, so has the need for social and civil services.

There are lots that are available. Here are just a few:

LifeSkills

LifeSkills has been in existence since 1966, but not in its current form, according to Robin Gregory, clinical director of children's services.

"We were put in place by John F. Kennedy when he provided federal grants to establish community mental health centers. At that time it was Mammoth Cave Mental Health and Southern Kentucky Mental Health Center," he said. "In 1971, we merged to form the Barren River Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board. We eventually changed our name to LifeSkills (in 1989) and started providing more and more services. We increased the program, increased the number of people we were seeing and increased the staff."

LifeSkills provides a wide range of behavioral health services. It also provides developmental services for anyone who has a developmental or intellectual disability. Last year, it served 10,600 people in its 10-county service area.

"We have individual, group and family therapy, case management, psychiatric services, peer support services, supported employment, supported housing, crisis services, therapeutic foster care and outpatient and residential addiction services," Gregory said.

People can call 270-901-5000 and schedule an appointment or visit one of the two crisis centers ? one at 501 Chestnut St. for children and one at 822 Woodway St. for adults.

Beginning in January, LifeSkills started new programs. One is iHope, which is for people experiencing their first episode of psychosis. There are also two new residential addiction treatment facilities. For women with children, there is a facility at 1500 Parkside Drive. For women, there is a facility at 499 Hillview Drive in Scottsville. For men, there is a facility at 822 Woodway St.

"We're evaluating our processes and procedures to see if we can better serve the individuals of the community," Gregory said.

For more information, visit lifeskills.com.

Kentucky Legal Aid

Kentucky Legal Aid started in 1997 through a grant designed to assist low-income families with civil legal matters such as divorces, custody cases, wills, benefit cases, expungement, powers of attorney and bankruptcy, according to organization Executive Director Amanda Young.

"The mission of Kentucky Legal Aid is to assist and enable low-income families, as well as the elderly, disabled and other vulnerable individuals in southcentral and western Kentucky, to resolve legal problems that are barriers to self-sufficiency and to provide these individuals an opportunity for an improved quality of life," Young said in an email.

Kentucky Legal Aid provides free services in 35 counties, Young said.

"Our main offices are in Bowling Green, Owensboro, Madisonville and Paducah. We have satellite offices," she said. "We field about 1,000 calls a month requesting services from all the counties."

Applicants should call 270-782-5740 to apply for services and be prepared to answer a few questions about household income and assets to determine eligibility. Initial advice and case evaluation are provided over the phone. Follow-up in-person appointments are scheduled if additional assistance is required.

United Way of Southern Kentucky

United Way of Kentucky has existed for more than 60 years. There are 1,800 United Way agencies across the globe, and each serve the specific needs of their communities, said Mandy Hicks, United Way senior director of marketing and communications. Locally, 7,500 donors give $2.1 million annually on average.

"A group of people got together and said we need a smarter way of investing dollars into the nonprofit sector of the community," she said. "Over time, we as an organization knew what was going on in the community. We as an organization had our pulse on the community, so now we can see how those (nonprofits) all intertwine and affect each other."

United Way has several programs. One is Feed the Need, an annual food drive that collects food to fill regional food pantries, Hicks said. People can get involved in two ways ? by collecting within a business or by buying food at selected stores on a specified day and helping to fill a cart. It is now in its ninth year.

"If a kid is hungry it could impact their education. If they don't do well in school they may want to drop out. They could more likely have substance abuse issues and end up in jail," she said. "They could struggle to provide food for their families, and guess what: their kids are hungry, too, and the cycle continues."

Day of Caring, also in its ninth year, is a way people can volunteer, Hicks said.

"What we found was that people wanted to volunteer. We wanted to make it easy. They can do something on this one day," she said. "I think southern Kentucky is one of the best places to live because people are so caring. One year we had over 1,200 people. What's the smartest way you can invest your time? It's the intersection of people who need and those who want to."

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library started in 2010 as a way to push early childhood education, Hicks said.

"Any kid under 5 can sign up for free. They get a book with their name on it mailed to their house until they are 5 years old," she said. "We had more than 115,000 books to 6,000 children."

The United Way is also working to get children ready for kindergarten by focusing on four key points ? read, play, count and log off, Hicks said. Fifty percent of local children aren't ready.

"There are four key actions parents are not doing with their kids to get them ready for kindergarten. They need to unplug from technology," she said. "Kids were not having the dexterity to hold a pencil because they were used to (swiping)."

The United Way website, mychildisready.com, has articles, tips, milestones and benchmarks. "By 2020 we want to see 75 percent ready," she said. "We're going to put it out there."

The Southern Kentucky 211 Call Center will be celebrating its first anniversary July 18. The center provides referrals for food, housing, rent/utility aid, emergency shelter, clothing, transportation assistance, substance abuse, child care options, senior issues, medical and dental care, immigration, prescriptions, mental health and home repair. Trained community referral specialists are multilingual. The service is free and confidential.

"More than 4,000 calls have come in," Hicks said. "We hope to have 24/7 (service) and the ability to do it by text."

The contact center is funded by the Laura Goad Turner Charitable Foundation, the Community Foundation of South Central Kentucky, the Laura Turner Dugas Foundation, the Kentucky Social Welfare Foundation and the Kenan Foundation, which put up the startup funds.

Southern Kentucky 211 is working toward Alliance of Information and Referral Services Accreditation. This certification is the recognized standard for information and referral services at the state and national levels. Included in this process are 29 national standards and more than 200 operational components, including best practices for average speed calls are answered, average handle time, quality assurance scores, customer satisfaction and an onsite assessment.

The center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

Community Action of Southern Kentucky

Community Action of Southern Kentucky started in 1965 through the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 when all the Community Actions started, said Charity Parrish, director of planning, programming development and communications.

"We help in four areas ? children's services, senior services, community services and transportation," she said.

For children, there are Head Start programs in all 10 counties, child care in Metcalfe and Warren counties and preschool in Allen County. There is also the Family Nurturing program, Parrish said.

"It helps people with parenting skills," she said.

For seniors, there are centers in all 10 counties for ages 60 and up, Parrish said. Meals are served at all centers. There are also home-delivered meals for those who qualify through the Barren River Area Development District.

"We have telephone reassurance, transportation to and from the center and nutrition and health education," she said.

There are also volunteer opportunities for seniors. The RSVP program pairs seniors with other volunteer agencies. There is also the Foster Grandparents Program, which is more well-known.

"They work with preschool, elementary and middle school children," she said. "They help kids be school ready and successful."

There are several community services Community Action provides, including low-income energy assistance, emergency food and shelter program for people who have had an economic crisis and supported housing, Parrish said.

"If someone is living on the street or in an emergency shelter, we can pay their utility deposit with supported housing money," she said.

There is also the New Day housing program.

"It's a new program that focuses on helping single mothers who are homeless, especially those getting out who were incarcerated. We did it as a pilot program with one person," Parrish said. "It takes a community to help them not go back to the way it was before. We have no designated funding for it. It has a positive effect. We're a bridge between the person and the landlord. We've been using it in configuration with supportive housing."

Community Action gives two scholarships ? one for traditional and another for nontraditional students ? each year. There is also the refugee program that helps them find employment and works with them on employment skills. Community Action helps with the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange and with weatherization to help people be safe and energy efficient.

In the garden program, Community Action gives out vouchers for seeds, plants and fertilizers.

"It has to be vegetables. A person can start a vegetable garden and in the summer we can go check on them," Parrish said. "We work with the (Warren County Cooperative) Extension Office and do cooking and canning classes to make the most out of the gardens."

Community Action also offers interview and resume writing assistance as well as volunteer income tax assistance, Parrish said.

"Most of the time we try to be a good referral for all the community," she said. "We're in the 211 (Call Center). That has really helped us."

For transportation, there is GO bg Transit. The service is growing and thriving, Parrish said.

"With the new routes, it's going to make it a whole lot better," she said.

The changes started with the Pink Line-Route 6, which in November began serving the Lovers Lane area. LifeSkills and the Department of Community-Based Services are there, and Fairview Community Health Center will move there.

The other new stops include Industrial Drive, Dishman Lane and on the bridge across Interstate 65 to Doug's Motor City Bar & Grill, where there are nearby apartments. There are also stops along Nashville Road.

The Pink Line connects at Sears to Green Line-Route 3 and Purple Line-Route 5. That gives a connection to Greenwood Mall, and three different routes stop there each hour.

The Orange Line-Route 4, which used to be the Yellow Line, runs downtown to Western Kentucky University, Southern Kentucky Community and Technical College and the Russellville Road corridor.

The Red Line-Route 1 runs the U.S. 31-W By-Pass, Old Louisville Road, downtown and the Housing Authority of Bowling Green area.

The Blue Line-Route 2 is the Delafield, Forest Park and Morgantown Road area. Routes 1-4 connect at the transit base at 304 E. 11th Ave.

The Red Line runs from 7:10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. The Blue Line runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. The Green Line runs from 6:20 a.m. to 6:04 p.m. weekdays. The Orange Line runs from 6:50 a.m. to 5:35 p.m. weekdays.

The Purple Line has two routes. One runs from 7:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., and the other runs from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays. The Pink Line runs from 7:41 a.m. to 4:41 p.m. weekdays.

Bowling Green Human Rights Commission

The Bowling Green Human Rights Commission was established by city ordinance Aug. 1, 1966, Executive Director Alice Gatewood Waddell said.

"Our primary mission is to promote fair treatment and opportunity regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, age 40-plus, sex, disability and familial status," she said. "Complaints we address are in housing, employment and public accommodation."

The Human Rights Commission looks over the issues to determine if discrimination has taken place and if not, it gets them to the right place, Waddell said.

"We can make referrals to other agencies that can assist them like Legal Aid," she said. "It may be something they need a lawyer for."

Sometimes the Human Rights Commission will get the parties together to see if their problem can be resolved without a hearing, Waddell said.

"We're gathering facts to see if they need to be investigated," she said. "We're a quick fix locally if they stand to lose their home or their job."

Sometimes, the Human Rights Commission will bring in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights to resolve a case.

"They represent the whole state. That's where we have trained staff to look at complaints. They have attorneys and trained investigators," she said. "They have the staff to do that. The EEOC can handle employment issues and that can get complicated at times."

Education and outreach, particularly with civil rights and the Fair Housing Act, make up a large part of the Human Rights Commission's services with hopes of eliminating discrimination, Waddell said.

"By understanding different people's cultures and by bringing people together, we can eliminate biases and prejudice," she said. "We participate in other community events. We do workshops as far as fair housing for landlords and tenants."

 
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