What will you do with your moment? Your time here in this life? Will you come alongside someone whose body and perhaps spirit has been broken? Thus was the challenge of Mary Foley, Executive Director of Merryman House, a comprehensive Domestic Crisis Center, located in Paducah, Kentucky. Governor Bevin and the Commonwealth took a giant step toward answering that challenge when the Governor awarded the center with a $500,000 Community Development block grant. The Delta Regional Authority awarded an additional $250,000 grant.
To begin the occasion Director Foley had given out cards with a simple dash in the center. "To the left of the dash you can write your birthdate," she said. "To the right of the dash would be the date you leave this earth. So the dash represents your moment, your time here…what will you do with it?"
Coming alongside an organization like Merryman House could certainly be a very fulfilling way to spend that moment. In that vein, Governor Bevin issued his own challenge to the audience. "I am told that the grants awarded today allow this organization to pay the $650,000 debt incurred to purchase this facility and leaves them with a $100,000 surplus for remodeling. But the entire estimate to turn these buildings into a state of the art facility is 3.5 million dollars. I challenge you, this is your community, be a part of helping provide the funding that is needed to remodel this facility."
A particularly meaningful moment was when "founding mother" Merryman Kemp took the podium to thank all of those present for the support and for the grants. Ms. Kemp began this relief work in 1978 when she and a few other ladies in the community literally opened their homes to women and children in need of a safe place to escape to. From that work Merryman House has been born. Ms. Kemp expressed her heartfelt gratitude that "I got to live to see this day." A lovely portrait of the founder was also unveiled and will be displayed in a place of honor at the shelter.
"The women who seek help here are valuable threads in the tapestry that makes up Kentucky," Governor Bevin said in his comments. "The threads may be tattered and torn when they come here but they can be restored and re-woven into the fabric of our communities and our state."
Bevin later quoted Daniel Boone who once said, "Heaven must be a Kentucky kind of place." He used that quote to remind those in attendance that they are part of what makes Kentucky a wonderful place. He is confident they will rally to this cause and make the vision of the completed facility a reality.