Local activism group focuses on community service

CASKY (Community Action of Southern Kentucky) is a non profit based in 11 counties around southern Kentucky. The organization offers many different services in order to help people in southern Kentucky reach stability and economic security.

Laurel Deppen

Something that is common among the staff and volunteers of Community Action of Southern Kentucky, or CASOKY, is a desire to help people.

The CASOKY website defines their mission as creating partnerships with the community to help improve the lives of residents of southern Kentucky by helping them reach stability and financial security.

Leslie Talley, CASOKY’s chief operations officer, said there is always a place to volunteer.

“If you just want to help people, come be involved with us,” she said.

The organization offers programs designed for helping people of all ages with different skills. Talley said that within the organization she’s able to work with people from before they’re born until the time they die.

With branches in 10 counties, CASOKY functions as a resource for people in need. Its programs include assistance through several programs focusing on providing different resources.

One of its services, known as the Garden Program, provides low income families with the materials they need to start their own vegetable garden. CASOKY also offers a Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which focuses on helping low-income families heat their houses.

The organization also has programs designed to cater to refugees, children and seniors.

CASOKY’s Refugee Employment Program helps refugees entering the American workforce. Through the program, it connects refugees to local employers.

CASOKY is also involved with Head Start, a program that helps children from low-income families. According to the website, 10 percent of the funded enrollment is for children with documented disabilities.

According to the website, Head Start is federally funded through an annual grant from the Administration for Children and Families, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services.

CASOKY also has multiple programs focused on providing food and other goods to families in need.

According to their website, CASOKY runs a senior center in every county they cover, and they strive to help the social and nutritional aspects of elderly members of the community.

Sandi Knight, the director of the Foster Grandparent Program, said CASOKY also helps people file taxes.

“People are always surprised at how much we do,” Knight said.

The Foster Grandparent Program is designed to benefit both the children and grandparents involved. According to the CASOKY website, the program matches seniors with children who have been neglected, abused or have disabilities. The seniors spend 15 to 40 hours a week with their foster grandchildren and provide wisdom and positive interaction.

“There is such a bond and a connection with the kids that the foster grandparents hate to miss,” Knight said.

Knight said that several of the kids don’t get the kind of individual attention without what the grandparents give them.

“When the foster grandparent is able to give them that attention, they help them succeed,” Knight said.

Knight recalled receiving annual letters from a parent of someone who was in the Foster Grandparent Program. She said that the letters involved the parent talking about how the program helped her son until he graduated from high school. Knight said that the parent said that she didn’t believe that her son would have graduated if it hadn’t been for his foster grandparent.

Knight said the story gave her goosebumps.

Talley urged anyone who was interested in serving the community to volunteer with CASOKY.

“The more we can do together to help people,” she said. “That’s what we should do.”

Features reporter Laurel Deppen can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected].