'The Neighborhood' provides one-stop center for Ashland community

The Neighborhood is considered a one-stop center in Ashland for disadvantaged community members to come and get back on their feet. (WCHS/WVAH)

Vietnam veteran and Kentucky native David Bland comes to an Ashland center for most of his daily meals. He currently lives in a motel room nearby and relies on the help from The Neighborhood for basic needs many community members take for granted. The Neighborhood is considered a one-stop center in Ashland for disadvantaged community members to come and get back on their feet.

"This is a great place," Bland said. "I could go in and take a shower if I needed to. I get a lot of clothes here. They have great clothes for us."

Bland is one of many people who come to The Neighborhood daily. Currently seven non-profit organizations are working together to improve access to services all in one place. Haircuts, showers, food and clothing are just a few items neighbors can come receive. Community members can also gain access to housing help and insight to the job market while they get their hands on a hot meal.

"I've seen many people who are down and out come here," Dennis Hencye said. "Even if they just need a shower and something to eat they can come here. Everybody here is good to us."

The Neighborhood grew out of the non-profit organization Neighbors Helping Neighbors. They goal is to provide a clean, safe, reliable and convenient place to receive assistance. Over the last decade the word and goals spread through town. Organizations and volunteers from across the community started to get involved. Now the facility has grown into a one-stop center that serves dozens of community members every week.

Friday afternoon Ashland group home youth worker Ryan Koun was serving lunch in The Neighborhood kitchen. He said every week the group home staff brings their young men who are transitioning back into the community themselves, to serve food.

"You can see the change in them when they put a smile on a stranger's face," Kouns said. "You can tell this builds them up. It's building their confidence and social skills up. They start feeling more comfortable. It also gives them a chance to meet new people and get involved in something they have probably never done before."

The Neighborhood is located on Carter Avenue in Ashland. Currently involved nonprofits are CAREeS, River Cities Harvest, Ashland Community Kitchen, The Dressing Room, Clean Start, The Drop Youth Center and Ashland-Boyd County Health Department. The facility staff is always looking for volunteers and donations. Leaders there say there is something everyone in the community can do to help. If you are interested in getting involved visit The Neighborhood website.

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