Since its inception 10 years ago, Kids of the Community has been without a home.
That changed Monday when First National Bank donated a building at 681 Cadillac Lane to the nonprofit organization. The building was most recently a pool hall that came into the bank’s possession when the former owner endured legal trouble.
First National Bank vice chairman and CEO Tom Vance said the bank’s board of directors didn’t hesitate when approached about donating the building to Kids of the Community. The property, which includes 1.16 acres, is valued at $118,000, according to Warren County tax records.
“We think this is the right thing to do,” said Vance. “This is our gift to Warren County, especially the children.”
Kids of the Community works with the court system to serve children who are in need. About 180 juveniles are currently in the program.
Field trips to go rappelling at Fall Creek Falls or to go kayaking on the Barren Fork River are planned a couple times a year. But the focus of Kids of the Community is meeting the daily needs of children, particularly their food needs.
“The rates here of kids on free or reduced lunch are as bad as anywhere in the country,” said Kids of the Community director Barry Dishman, who noted 73 percent of Warren County students are on free or reduced lunch. “A lot of these children don’t have somebody at home who will cook for them. If they eat breakfast or lunch, it’s usually at school. It’s heart-breaking to hear some of their stories.”
Immediate plans for the 3,000-square-foot building are constructing male and female restroom facilities and a large kitchen area. Dishman said Kids of the Community works with Second Harvest Food Bank to obtain food in large quantities. Much of that food is sent home with children from school on Friday afternoons to ensure they have something to eat over the weekend.
Kids of the Community vice president Denny Vaughn says the organization has badly needed a place to call home.
“We’ve been working out of a van and a tiny office at the courthouse so this is something we’ve needed for a long time,” said Vaughn.
Local realtor Lynne Cole recognized the need and was the person who approached First National about the donation.
“I thought it would be a great way for the bank to show its heart is in the right place,” said Cole. “Tom was behind it from the start and took it to the board and got it all rolling. Then we sat down and worked out the legalities. I figured you’re never going to know if you don’t ask.”
Added Vance, “The No. 1 reason people don’t give is because they aren’t asked. Lynne asked and it was the right time.”
Dishman said the building will help the 501(c)3 organization better serve the children.
“What we do here is a grassroots effort. There is no manual for it,” said Dishman. “All the money that we raise, the mobile food pantries that we have, that’s all done for the children. It will be easier to get all of that done here at this new building.”