New Center for Adults with Disabilities Shows How CDBG Projects Can ‘Build Up People’

Story by Kirsten Delamarter - 01/17/2019

New Center for Adults with Disabilities Shows How CDBG Projects Can ‘Build Up People’
CRESTWOOD, Ky. (January 17, 2019) – For 30 years, Apple Patch empowered adults with disabilities from a scenic horse farm in southern Oldham County. There was plenty of green space, with lots nearby where the organization built an inclusive living community for some of its clients.

But as Apple Patch grew, it inevitably outgrew its space. The buildings weren’t fully equipped to serve adults with limited mobility issues, and the remote nature made internet connectivity difficult at times. So, the non-profit’s leadership searched the county to find a new home for its clients and staff – and they found it in Crestwood Station.

Last month, the non-profit organization, which changed its name to Pillar last year, celebrated the grand opening of its new community engagement center at 6206 Crestwood Station. The 8,000-square-foot facility has been fully customized to suit the needs of clients and staff, said Zac LaFollette, who is Pillar’s director of community programs and has been with the organization for a decade.

“This space just really allows us not only to be a little bit more functional but also more visible in the community,” LaFollette said. “It puts us a little more centrally located. We’re not hidden away in the middle of a horse farm. We’re within our community. That’s really what we strive to do, to be champions of inclusion for our folks and get them out into the community.”

The roughly $450,000 renovation was funded by private donations, as well as a $405,000 Community Development Block Grant through the Department for Local Government (DLG), an arm of the Office of the Governor that supports local officials and their communities.
“We’re so excited to have this here,” Oldham County Judge-Executive David Voegele said of the new Pillar facility. “It reinforces the goodness of our community and the kindness of our state in supporting a project like this.”

Each year, U.S. Housing and Urban Development makes millions of dollars available to Kentuckians through DLG for public projects focused on economic and community development. DLG reviews project applications from across the state and selects those expected to produce a good return on investment.

“This project in particular caught the attention of our staff because while it is a building renovation, it is at its core all about creating a space that makes a radical difference in the lives of people,” DLG Commissioner Sandra K. Dunahoo said. “Pillar is teaching adults the skills they need to live more independently, and I’m pleased that DLG could play a role in this project.”

The new community engagement center will build on the programming available to Pillar’s clients with the addition of a technology lab, a creative arts studio, a music therapy and dramatic arts space, a fitness center, a café and a culinary training kitchen. These classes are intended to enhance participants’ independence, LaFollette said.

For example, in the culinary program, clients work with direct support professionals on kitchen skills – such as properly using an oven or breaking down a recipe.

“This might be an individual who has hopes of moving out of their mom and dad’s home and into their own apartment or into their own place of living,” LaFollette said. “We’re here to really help them achieve that goal, and culinary is just a really good way to illustrate that example.”

The former Apple Patch facility had a kitchen, LaFollette explained, but one more suited for home cooking than group instruction.

The grand opening of Pillar’s new facility came just months after the organization, which had come to be well known and well loved in the community as Apple Patch, announced it was changing its name. While the non-profit will retain the Apple Patch name for certain programs, leaders have said that the new name better reflects the organization’s mission – to be a pillar of support for the individuals and community it serves.

Voegele said the new Community Engagement Center is a reminder to Oldham County and beyond that community projects shouldn’t just focus on the “brick and mortar.”

“We build up buildings, but we really need to build up people as well,” he said. “This is a great example of helping people take a step forward and be as much as they can possibly be.”