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Kentucky by Heart: A look at some worthy Kentucky service organizations for your holiday giving list

By Steve Flairty
KyForward Columnist

We’re in the holiday season when most of us likely feel inundated with messages coaxing us to buy; it’s also a time when we are barraged with requests to give to a good cause, and it can quickly become a matter of “polite frustration.” There are lots of good causes, and most of us have limited resources to give, though we might have good hearts with noble intentions.

I believe that most groups seeking funds are legitimate and do fine work but narrowing down the list to whom we give our funds is often quite arbitrary… and sometimes even a guessing game.

Allow me to share some potential service outreaches I believe are worthy of support. These suggestions come mainly from people I have published stories about, and the fact that my very special writing subjects are involved is a seal of approval for me. I’ve written similarly about this in previous Kentucky by Heart columns but let this serve as an update on the matter.

I’ll start by a gem I discovered this year. Lady Veterans Connect (LVC) was started in Lexington by Phyllis Abbot, long a compassionate community activist in the central Kentucky area. The purpose of her organization is to provide a sanctuary for homeless female military veterans, many of whom suffer from the effects of military sexual trauma (MST). Phyllis started the project several years ago modestly at a Lexington location, called the Thurman-Abbott Home. Today, LVC is successfully transforming a former public-school building in Trapp, Kentucky, near Winchester, into a place that will provide shelter, food, and valuable educational and counseling experiences for about 40 women—truly one of the pioneering efforts for women vets in America. Check out their amazing web site www.lv-connect.org or call 859-806-4297 to see how you might help in this wonderful endeavor!

Jessica Collins, a nursing student at Western Kentucky University from Shelbyville, founded an organization called A Place to Sleep when she was only ten years old. Since 2009, the project has placed nearly 2000 young people (through high school age) with new or near new beds. Jessica saw the need then, and now, and realizes the importance of a comfortable place to sleep to improve a child’s educational and other life success. Visit the web site, www.aplacetosleepministry.org or mail checks, made payable to First Presbyterian Church and marked for: A Place to Sleep, 629 Main Street, Shelbyville, KY 40065. You may also email APlacetoSleep@hotmail.com for more information.

David Lane with children (Photo provided)

A few years back, David Lane sold his possessions and left his home in Winchester to start a mission to serve poor and disadvantaged individuals in Guatemala. His move there has changed lives through the organization called Uplifting Ministries. Here is what David has to say about the purpose of the work. “We currently host two local youth groups at our mission home in Guazcapan. There we provide a safe and fun environment for the youth to meet, with the goal to strengthen the youth to help them grow spiritually. We also provide a monthly plan to evangelize and help the community through the youth. In addition, our ministry conducts three weekly English classes for adults and children and a feeding program for the homeless and alcoholics.”

There are all types of outreaches to support in Kentucky, and hopefully one or two will strike a chord with your greatest passionate interest.

Tammy Spicer directs an amazing summer program of volunteers who provide nutritional help to children in Pendleton County. Find out more from her Feeding the Kids Facebook page or call her directly at 859-912-4326.

According to founder Corbin Seavers, The West Louisville Chess Club has as its mission “the intellectual empowerment and character development of Louisville youth through the sport of team chess.” Working with mostly low-income and minority populations, Seavers is changing lives in the Jefferson County area, and I believe this is an excellent program to support and an investment in Kentucky’s future. I have visited a tournament event of which his club participated and witnessed young kids playing the game of high strategy with a sparkle in their eyes. To help with the work of Seavers, visit www.thewestlouisvillechessclub.com or email UrbanLouisvilleChess@yahoo.com.

One of my favorite organizations to support financially is The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington. With the primary focus of promoting literacy in Kentucky, Carnegie touches lives positively at all levels. From tutoring young children to read to offering classes to accomplished authors—plus a lot between—its work promises to pay dividends for our state in a way we’ll only partially ever know.

Speaking of future benefits, high schooler Andrew Dunn, of Louisville, is leading his young peers in a program of servant leadership, called RAK Louisville (Random Acts of Kindness Louisville). Andrew and his helpers are currently doing wonderful acts for others in their community, and in doing so, are laying a groundwork for their own future mindset of service. Learn more and check out how you can assist this young man of character by going to their phenomenal web site at raklouisville.com.

Travis and Christies Lynch have opened their home near Berea to help ages 12 and up who are in crisis in an outreach called the GILMIN Group. Visit www.gilmingroup.org for more information.

Feel free to email me at sflairty2001@yahoo.com to learn more of my experiences with these groups mentioned. Good luck with your giving and here’s hoping you’ll receive mighty blessings in doing so!

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Steve Flairty is a teacher, public speaker and an author of six books: a biography of Kentucky Afield host Tim Farmer and five in the Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes series, including a kids’ version. Steve’s “Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes #4,” was released in 2015. Steve is a senior correspondent for Kentucky Monthly, a weekly KyForward and NKyTribune columnist and a member of the Kentucky Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. Contact him at sflairty2001@yahoo.com or visit his Facebook page, “Kentucky in Common: Word Sketches in Tribute.” (Steve’s photo by Connie McDonald)

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