The Alliance was formed in July of 2000 as a non-profit organization with a goal of providing programs to “address unmet needs” and providing “friendly, courteous service while maintaining the personal dignity of and respect for those served,” according to the group’s literature.
Since it’s formation, the Alliance (which was formerly called Grayson County Community Alliance) has expanded to include five programs: Food Pantry, Prescription Project; Furniture Project; Repair Affair; and Donated Vehicle programs.
The largest and most wide-reaching program is the Food Pantry, which serves 900 to 950 households each month. Operating since November 2000, the program offers qualifying families and individuals government commodities as well as other options of foods donated or purchased with donated funds.
Donations are always appreciated, but the pantry’s biggest concern at the moment is finding a building large enough to house their needs. The current building, which is generously upkept by the Fiscal Court, is filled to capacity with pallets of food, boxes stacked to the ceiling, and shelves of foods that have been pre-bagged according to family size.
Several desks are crammed into the food pantry’s only office, and the long center hallway is lined with chairs on both sides and designated as the “waiting room.” The program’s director, Donna Wilson, said enthusiastically, “If anybody out there has a building sitting empty, please call me!”
The program depends largely on community volunteers and work-release inmates who help out each month. “I have some wonderful volunteers. I can always use more.” Wilson said, pointing out that the program currently needs an office volunteer and always needs greeters, baggers and advisors.
In addition to helping families who come in to pick up food, the pantry is participating in the “Backpack Program” which provides weekend meals for at-risk schoolchildren. It costs only $80 to sponsor a child for the entire school year.
Last year the program served approximately 170 area children. “We know the need is higher,” Wilson said, “How many children we can serve is only limited by the dollars we can raise.”
Another ongoing program offered by the Alliance is the Furniture Program, which is spearheaded by volunteer Pat Boone. The program began in January of this year, and has already received 210 requests for home furnishings.
“We are always in need of donations.” Boone said. Beds are a particularly high priority for the program, as they are of dire need for many of the families, who are qualified for the program through the Food Pantry, Community-Based Services, or HeadStart.
Boone also stressed that the program, as well as the Alliance, is nondenominational. A common misconception is that the program is a continuation of the one started by Catholic Sister Audrey, who helped the community with a similar program in the past.
The Furniture Program relies heavily on its volunteers who pick up and deliver the donated furnishings. Boone pointed out that the Alliance as a whole would not be where it is without those willing to give their time to help others. “We’ve had wonderful volunteers through the years who have made [the Alliance] what it is.” Said Boone.
Another program, Repair Affair, is a once-a-year event held the third Saturday of each May. Around 50 to 75 local volunteers make repairs to homes in the community in order to make them “safer, more accessible, or better weatherized,” said Director Linda Clements, who stressed that it is “not a beautification project.”
The types of repairs made greatly vary. Clements said it “could be a ramp, new windows or a new door, [repairing] a porch with boards fallen through.” Volunteer group leaders choose assignments based on the project “that suits the skills of their volunteers,” according to Clements.
In the past five years, Repair Affair, which is sponsored by Kentucky Housing, has repaired 91 homes. Eight of those homes were repaired in 2011.
The Prescription Project, which has been in operation for roughly nine years, is a program that helps “low-income people who do not have any insurance to apply for assistance with drug companies,” according to Director Glenda Kilingbeck.
Volunteers help qualified applicants complete forms two days per month. Applicant’s physicians also participate by providing information that the drug companies may require, and receiving shipments of medications for the patient.
Kilingbeck points out that the program, which has helped participants save more than $1,950,00, is to help people with ongoing medical needs, such as those with diabetes or emphysema.
The Prescription Project, which is a partner with the Kentucky Prescription Assistance Program, cannot provide assistance for those needing one-time medications or narcotics, and does not pay for prescriptions itself, but rather helps participants apply for assistance.
Finally, the Donated Vehicle program has transferred eight vehicles to qualified recipients. They currently have no donated vehicles available. In addition to helping a family in need, potential donors get the added benefit of a tax write-off for the value of the vehicle.