During the 1980s, as affordable housing units disappeared and poverty expanded, the problem of homelessness grew, nationally and locally, to the point that it could no longer be ignored. In Lexington, the Urban County Government formed the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness, chaired by Debra Hensley. The task force studied the problem and issued its report in October, 1990. In this report, “By and For the Community,” the task force called for the establishment of a 24-hour comprehensive service facility with the overriding philosophy of providing services to all who need them.
As the task force report indicated, there is more to dealing with the homeless than simply providing food and shelter. Over time, the number of poor people in this country has grown. At the same time the number of affordable housing units has declined. That means that the competition to get into these housing units has become much harder. Those who lose out in that competition tend to be those who have the most difficulty competing. These include those with addictions and those with mental health issues.
For these reasons, the Hope Center has sought to address the multiple issues affecting the homeless population. Since 1993 it has developed a variety of programs to do just that.
The Hope Center provides emergency shelter, food and clothing to homeless people, but it is much more than just a shelter. It is a multi-location, comprehensive social service agency delivering a variety of programs to help people get off the street and stay off the street.
Since the Emergency Shelter opened in 1993, the Hope Center has built and opened the Ball-Quantrell Jones Center for Women, Hill Rise Place, the George Privett Recovery Center, the Barbara Hardwick Rouse House and in late 2011 the Don and Cathy Jacobs House and the Jacobs Hope Kitchen.
In 2008 the Department of Veterans Affairs awarded the Hope Center a per diem grant to help reduce the number of veterans who are homeless and without needed services. It features extensive outreach programs, clinical assessments, mental health treatment, alcohol and drug abuse counseling and employment assistance.
At the Hope Center, we fight homelessness on many fronts and in many ways.
In the end, it’s not enough to be concerned about the plight of the homeless. What’s critical is doing something – something lasting – about each individual homeless client we serve.
- Don Ball
Cecil Dunn has served as Executive Director of the Hope Center since October 9, 1995. Mr. Dunn attended Florida State University and is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky College of Law. He is a practicing attorney with years of experience in real estate matters including low-cost housing efforts across the state of Kentucky. He was formerly General Legal Counsel and is currently Special Legal Council for Kentucky Housing Corporation. He has served as an Assistant County Attorney, Criminal Court Trial Commissioner and as a special prosecutor for the state regarding the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire. He currently serves as chairman of the State Board of Tax Appeals Kentucky. He received a master’s degree in theology from Lexington Theological Seminary in 1994 and is close to completing a master of divinity degree.
At the Hope Center, Mr. Dunn, with the assistance of a dedicated board and a highly professional staff, has erased the serious financial shortfall he inherited, has increased staff standards and morale and has initiated new procedures and programs to help the homeless get off the street and begin responsible, self-sufficient lives. Among these initiatives is a highly successful recovery program for alcoholics and drug addicts begun in August 1996. This program led to the creation of Recovery Kentucky, a network of 15 long-term recovery facilities, modeled on the Hope Center program.
Mr. Dunn received the Kentucky Housing Corporation Excellence in Housing Award in 1996; the Lexington Optimist Community Service Award in 1997; and the Fayette County Bar Association Henry Duncan Award, also in 1997. His many civic activities include two years as the co-chair of Habitat for Humanity's Blitz Program. He has served on the board of Sayre School including a period as vice chair. He has served on and chaired the boards of the Bluegrass Mental Health/Mental Retardation Board, Inc., Downtown Lexington Corporation, Lexington-Fayette County Historic Commission, and Lexington Center Corporation.
The emergency shelter is an adult male facility that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Each month on average the shelter provides more than 6,000 nights of lodging and 13,000 meals.
Many volunteers help serve the meals, and clients also participate in work crews in the kitchen.
Recovery Program for Men
"Even though it was humbling to come here, I found out there was something else for me to do besides pick up a drink. I became accountable. I am learning who I am by tearing down those walls that I built over many years.
"Today I have a wonderful sponsor whom I call daily. I have a home group. I work the twelve steps, and I apply them to my life. I am as honest as I can be with everything. I have found my Higher Power.
"I just recently celebrated two years of continuous sobriety, and I have never been so happy. Now I know what it means to walk with a purpose. My purpose is to live happy, joyous and free. I have been freed from bondage.
"If I could have one wish, it is that every alcoholic could have this great serenity that I am experiencing today – and that is what I have. I have it today."
Hope Center mental health professionals reach out to those who are homeless because of chronic mental illness and give them access to the comprehensive psychological care that they desperately need. Dedicated staff members offer a diverse mix of rehabilitation services that provide each client with effective treatment options tailored to meet his individual needs. Clients receive the services of a psychiatrist and a psychiatric nurse from Bluegrass Comprehensive Care.
The mental health team not only helps clients secure permanent housing but also provides ongoing support, including payee services and counseling, to help ensure their success in the long run.
Long-term success is a matter of helping each client reach his potential for self-sufficient living. Each individual is different, and some need more assistance than others in order to live largely their own. The effort can involve months of work, even years in some cases.
Then Larry entered the mental health program. He gradually learned to remain compliant and avoid his disastrous road trips. He gained life skills. He attended group meetings that helped him solidify these lessons.
Three years after entering the program, Larry moved into his own apartment. The program staff continued to provide support, host group meetings with him and help him make his appointments. They arranged for job training and assistance. Two years after moving out of the shelter, Larry got a job at a Lexington thrift store. He learned to get himself to meetings and appointments and to work without assistance. It was a long road, but Larry walked it.
The employment program provides assistance in training and employment by offering employment training opportunities, transportation to interviews and orientations, resume and referral assistance, assistance with off-site housing, higher education information and access to a computer, phone and fax.
The program provides semi-private rooms that are used by clients who are participating in the employment program. Many of them are clients who have completed the recovery program.
Clients prepare themselves for life outside the shelter. They save money for deposits, work on life skills and begin the process of finding a suitable place to live.
"It is hard to put into words what this place means to me. I feel blessed and honored to have had this experience for the past 5 years. I wish everyone could see and feel what I have so that they could understand the trials and tribulations these people face on a daily basis. I have been and will continue to be proud when I tell others that I spent five years working with the homeless at the Hope Center."
The Hope Center is a place where lessons are constantly taught about the human spirit and its ability to endure. Sometimes those lessons are taught in English. Sometimes they’re taught in Spanish.
Since 2002 the Hope Center has operated an intensive recovery program for inmates inside the Fayette County Detention Center. The program lasts for a minimum of four months in the facility and ensures that each inmate in the program has established contacts with recovery resources in the community upon release. When released from custody, program participants often come to one of the Hope Center's recovery facilities for further work on their recovery. The recovery program in the detention center is fully funded by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government.
The recovery program for women opened in 2002 at theBall-QuantrellJonesCenterfor Women onVersailles Road. It is based on the same peer-driven, professionally supervised model as the men’s program. It features several gender-specific elements and includes a health clinic.
Among all completers, whether or not they have had an incident of relapse, 88% report attending an average of four AA or NA meetings a week, and over 95% report that they are appropriately housed. In other words, they are no longer homeless.
Because of the success of the recovery program at theHopeCenter, it has been used as a model for RecoveryKentucky, a series of recovery centers acrossKentucky. Ten of these centers are open, and more are planned.
“Now, I think she’s really excited about her new life, after she left theHopeCenter. I was a little concerned about her going to an apartment and being by herself. It was the first time she had lived on her own. I have to say she talks a different language after being here. I can’t really describe it, except I hear something different in her voice. This has been a good place for her. This has been a good place. It’s been a good place for my daughter. I’m glad she came here.”
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
Copyright © 2014 Blue Grass Community Foundation
499 East High Street, Lexington, KY 40507