United Way representatives speak to Danville Kiwanis Club
On Thursday, May 23, Stephanie Blevins, Hillary Long and Kayla Dunn visited Kiwanis Club of Danville to share about the Heart of Kentucky United Way Bridges over Poverty program and the four-hour sessions currently taking place to educate the community about the cycle of poverty and its effects on generations of families.
Executive Director Stephanie Blevins began by sharing about the different perceptions people have regarding standards of living. She explained that knowledge she has gained from Bridges over Poverty has helped her to understand those perceptions at an entirely different level than before. She used the example of how differently the concept of art can be perceived.
Asking the audience about the art on display in their homes, Blevins explained that to her, the framed Paul Sawyer prints on the walls at her home represent tasteful and collectible artwork.
She then shared that talking with individuals from different walks of life revealed that many consider family photos and even children’s drawings as true art. And yet to others, genuine art would be paintings, sculpture and other expensive pieces created by famous artists. The takeaway from simple conversations reveals that socioeconomic factors determine many areas that affect standards of living.
Blevins encouraged all in attendance to consider attending a session of the Bridges over Poverty program and reiterated that it is an incredible program that examines generational poverty and how it impacts those who are caught in the cycle as well as the community at large.
Blevins then referenced an initiative called the Getting Ahead program, created to break the cycle of generational poverty, and introduced Kayla Dunn.
Dunn is a recent graduate of the program and was named a Heart of Kentucky United Way “Rising Star” in March for her hard work to achieve an education and improve her standard of living.
Kayla spoke from the heart when telling her story of growing up in poverty and the challenges she and her family have endured. She explained that due to substance abuse, her parents struggled to provide a stable home for their children. As a result, she and her immediate family have spent much of their lives living in substandard housing and have grappled with issues that include food insecurity.
Dunn shared that before participating in the Getting Ahead program, she had no plans to attend college nor any idea of how to even enroll in school or pursue higher education. Evaluating the Harrodsburg-Mercer community and the self-evaluation that she and her classmates participated in while in the program opened Dunn’s eyes to opportunities she never knew existed. Subsequently, she has completed her basic studies through Mercer County Adult Education, is now working toward a degree in social work and aspires to become a teacher in the Getting Ahead program.
She explained that new experiences and relationships developed with teachers and classmates have shed a light on gifts others see in her that she never saw herself. She sees a much brighter future for her son and a better life that she and her new fiancé are now working toward. Dunn finished by saying that her approach to life before assistance from Heart of Kentucky United Way was “just getting by” and now it is “getting ahead.”
Maj. Richmond speaks to Kiwanis
On Thursday, May 16, Maj. Carey Richmond of the Salvation Army-Danville presented a program to Kiwanis Club of Danville that focused on summer camping opportunities for local children.
Carey began by sharing that she and her husband, Salvation Army Caption Patrick Richmond, are being transferred to Parkersburg, West Virginia, in mid-June. She added that the time they and their children have spent living and working in Danville has been a wonderful experience. As excited as they are for their new assignment, they will miss this community and the friendships made here.
Carey then thanked the Kiwanis Club for its long-standing commitment to sponsoring scholarships for 10 children to attend summer camp. She explained that with a typical enrollment of 35 campers from our community, the Kiwanis Club’s donation provides much needed support for area families to send their children to summer camp.
Located at Dale Hollow Lake in Burkesville, Camp Paradise Valley is a six day, five night camp that hosts children ages 7-17. The camp offers three meals a day as well as healthy snacks, daily Bible study, praise and worship and daily swimming and boating. Other activities include photography, sports, God’s Greenhouse, nature immersion, hiking and much more. Carey explained that many of the campers experience wildlife and fishing for the first time while at Paradise Valley Camp. She also shared that well-trained counselors are on-site to guide campers through their daily activities and to support children who are experiencing emotional difficulties.
Carey finished her presentation with a brief overview of the Salvation Army Summer Day Camp. Enrollment can accommodate about 80 children, filled up quickly this year and there is a waiting list. The day camp offers daily Bible teaching and other activities like weekly field trips for swimming and movies. Transportation is coordinated with Danville Schools and the camp attendance schedule is now more flexible for working families.
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