January 17, 2017

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Steve Siler is a song writer, and founder and director of Music for the Soul, a non-profit music ministry. He is writing this column on behalf of Downtown Frankfort, Inc., a Kentucky Main Street program.


Improving “Access”

Longtime Downtown Soup Kitchen and Shelter Getting Facelift.

In the mid-1970s community leaders from various churches came together to create an entity providing meals, shelter, and other basic needs for underprivileged men in the downtown Frankfort area. A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization was founded to manage the facility. They named it ACCESS, an acronym for Actively Caring Christians Enlisting Supporting Service.

Located at 311 W. 2nd St., Access, more commonly known as the Access Soup Kitchen and Men’s Shelter, serves men in the downtown area seven days a week, 365 days a year.

I recently set down with Ed Ball, president of the organization, to learn more about what they do at Access and what their plans are for the future.

Ball originally got involved when he was invited to serve five years ago by Jim Sturm, one of the founding fathers of the organization.  It wasn’t long before Ball found himself stepping into a leadership role.

"We serve 26,000 meals a year," Ball told me, sharing that lunch is available to men, women, and children every day.  "There are always leftovers and those are served to the men for dinner. We keep breakfast things for men there too."

In addition to the meals the facility can shelter up to twenty-five men per night. While those are the two basic functions of the facility, there are other ways that Access assists men.

"We can help men get counseling, help them find a job, get them into drug rehab or connect them to medical services, and any other basic needs," said Ball. They also provide clothes to the men that have been donated by the community.

Access has 24/7 supervision. Andrew Baker leads the small paid staff. "Andrew has an effective heart for people who are on the fringes," said Ball. "He takes time to get to know the men. On Friday afternoons he leads a worship service"

The facility also has volunteer teams of cooks and servers. "We've had good community support," acknowledged Ball gratefully.

The location, which once served among other things as a grocery store, has never been remodeled. That is, not until now. Access has just completed Phase One of a five-phase update and expansion. With the help of architect Don Jeffers and local builder Frank Haydon, long overdue and much needed improvements are underway.  Ball showed me the plans praising Jeffers.  “Don has done unbelievable work!”

Thanks to a low cost loan, an adjoining building that used to be a burger joint has been acquired adding much needed square footage to the space. Extensive reconfiguration will take place to improve the kitchen and pantry area providing better access and storage. The bathrooms and showers are also being remodeled. A hallway will be eliminated to create more dormitory space. Plumbing and electric work are being done to help reduce the energy and maintenance costs, which are high in a building that has been in continuous use for thirty years. In addition, the roof is to be replaced and a much-needed sprinkler system added.

These repairs and improvements are a necessity, not a luxury. And even with volunteer help and professionals providing discounted pricing there is still a need for financial support from the broader community.

I asked Ball, "Why do you help?"

"I have a place in my heart for those who are struggling and underprivileged," he said. "I enjoy getting to know these folks. I have learned that people who are living a different type of life have reasons for why they are there that are beyond their control."

Part of what makes a community special is its response to those in need.  Access is a wonderful reflection on the heart of Frankfort. Perhaps you’d like to help Access as they improve their downtown facility or offer to volunteer.  If so, you can visit their website http://www.accesssoupkitchen.com or give them a call at 502-223-5179.

 


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