By Bill Robinson
A Kentucky first lady has many duties, Jane Beshear said Thursday as she prepared to help cut a ribbon officially opening a new building for God’s Outreach Madison County Food Bank at 1512 E. Main St. in Richmond. However, helping a community celebrate a broad-based effort to feed its own is the kind of duty she finds most gratifying, said the first lady, who added that she uses her position as the governor’s wife to advocate for families and children.
God’s Outreach began using the building in June after working out of cramped quarters on Geri Lane for nearly five years.
Beshear congratulated the long list of individuals and governments without whom, she and others said, the building or the food bank would not have been possible. She also reminded her listeners the agency still needs volunteers and donors.
Beshear said everyone, from private individuals to government offices, should remember that only uncontrollable circumstances stand between many people and the most basic of human needs — food.
The families and individuals who survive because of the food they receive from God’s Outreach are in need because they have lost their jobs or have lost their homes, Beshear said.
Noting that Thursday’s event was only one week removed from Thanksgiving and only five weeks from Christmas, the first lady said some people in Madison County may not have eaten a meal that very evening, much less a holiday feast in the coming days and weeks.
She also praised the school backpack program served by God’s Outreach which sends students from Madison County schools home each weekend with a backpack full of food. The students, who receive free school meals, otherwise might not have enough to eat each weekend, said Anthony Lowery, who founded and operates God’s Outreach with his wife, Linda.
Lowery said the food bank currently serves 1,400 people each month. They are among the 14,000 that the 2010 U.S. Census found to be living in what the federal government defines as poverty.
He urged members of the community to celebrate Christmas by “Giving the Gift of Food.” A $25 donation would enable God’s Outreach to purchase enough food for a family’s Christmas dinner. A Christmas card with the donor’s name would be included with the food delivery.
Donations to God’s Outreach may be be sent to PO Box 1226 , Richmond, KY 40476-1226.
Before he concluding the ceremony with prayer, the Rev. Dr. Virgil Grant said he was exercising his prerogative as a preacher to pass an offering plate. He started the collection with a $50 donation of his own.
Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes, who presided over the ceremony, offered his praise to everyone involved with God’s Outreach, saying “The greatest thing we can do in life is help those in need.”
Madison Judge/Executive Kent Clark said after he met Lowery and learned what God’s Outreach was about, he helped secure an annual appropriation for the agency from the fiscal court and recommended that it apply for a Community Development Block Grant from the state to construct a new building.
A grant of $235,000 was approved through the state Department of Local Government. Tony Wilder, a graduate of Madison Central High School who heads the department, also attended the ceremony.
Bill Robinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 624-6690.