State senator says more money should be put into programs like Shepherd’s House

Published 8:40 pm Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Roger Fox, program director for Shepherd’s House treatment center in Danville, is aiming for another location — this time in Pulaski County. So he reached out to Rick Girdler, a Republican state senator who represents Boyle, Lincoln and Pulaski counties, inviting him to come check the operation out.

Monday, Girdler took a tour of the center on South Third Street, where Fox explained how the non-residential addiction program works with former inmates. The two stood in the doorway of the classroom on the main floor as social worker Amber Davis was leading a group session.

“I’m just tickled to hear that the fiscal court has been supporting you all,” Girdler told Fox. He also said party affiliation should never come into play as far as backing up such a center.

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“Democrat, Republican — it just doesn’t matter in what you all are doing,” the senator said.

“Government’s not the answer. It’s just the way to get the funding to do it,” Girdler said. “We need to do all we can. That $32 it costs a day (to house an inmate at Boyle County Detention Center) — we need to take that $32 and put it somewhere else … to get them out of jail” and into a program that can help them become productive members of society.

Roger Fox, left, discusses the drug epidemic with Sen. Rick Girdler at Shepherd’s House treatment center in Danville Monday. Girdler said he would like to see more money put into treatment programs like the one Fox directs. Photo by Bobbie Curd.

“I believe this. My generation has never had to deal with this — the younger generation is going to have to get us through it and tell us what to do,” Girdler said.

The most Girdler said he can do is speak up when work begins on the state budget. “But as far as me getting out here and witnessing or testifying about what I’ve been through — they’re going to say that I don’t know what they’re going through. And you know what my answer is? I don’t.”

Fox said, “Well, a lot of your generation is raising my generation’s kids. And we’re trying to stop that. If we think we have a problem today, in a decade or a decade and a half, we’re going to have a real problem with all these kids growing up with this.”

Girdler brought up that Fox shared how his grandparents basically raised Fox and his brother.

“There’s a lot of my friends who are raising their grandchildren,” Girdler said. “It’s good, but it’s not good.”

Fox, who was also a client of Shepherd’s House before becoming an employee, explained how his own grandmother had to go back to work at 55 years old, because his grandfather got sick and they needed the insurance.

“So here’s me, I’m 16, and my brother is 12, and we’re running wild. My grandfather was too sick to do anything with us, and she’s working,” Fox said. “They tried. They tried so hard.”

He said his own background is one of the reasons he and the team try to make all their clients feel like they have a family to turn to at Shepherd’s House.

Fox explained to Girdler how Shepherd’s House would like to create local EAPs — employee assistance programs — which work with factories, other types of companies or even industrial foundations to offer treatment services for employees.

“There’s a high percentage of people who are struggling with substance abuse who aren’t able to take off work to get rehabilitation — they say ‘Hey, I can’t go into treatment and leave my family and my job.’”

Girdler said he would like to see more funding for programs like Shepherd’s House.

“But I’m one of 38 (state senators),” he said. “Someone needs to remind me when budget comes up … I’d love to see us throw more money at getting people job training.”

The senator left after telling Fox he would help Shepherd’s House get a start in Pulaski by offering every connection he has. “I’ll give you every contact I have, and even go with you if I can, if it’s after the next session,” Girdler said.

Fox said he really wants to expand the services into other counties because “we have developed a model that brings the entire community together to reintegrate former inmates back into that community, successfully.”

He said he’s continuously humbled by how many clients have never experienced the “care and accountability” Shepherd’s House is able to provide for them.

Jerod Thomas, president of Shepherd’s House said, “We want a footprint, to run it from Pulaski down to Boyle and through Lexington. We’d be looking at Jessamine, Garrard, Lincoln, etc. … We may be a county away, but only a 30-minute drive, so we need to be interchangeable.”


Shepherd’s House is working to expand the program by offering its services to the general public. Formerly, the non-residential treatment center only worked with former inmates, but now accepts anyone who would like help. Potential clients can call (859) 209-4242 to schedule an appointment, or even walk in to the center at 454 S. Third St.