One of the state’s longest operating organizations for children made plans official this week to set up residence in Jessamine County in 2017.
The Kentucky United Methodist Homes for Children and Youth announced Monday they have sold their flagship and primary residential facility in Versailles and will move to 36 acres at 1115 Ashgrove Road in fall of next year.
“I’m really thrilled about where we are going to be,” said Rev. Randy Coy, president of Methodist Homes. “It is a beautiful place and we are coming to a great community.”
Originally established by the United Methodist Church in the 1870s as an orphanage, Methodist Homes moved toward providing treatment in the late 20th century. They now works with 12 to 17-year-olds with histories of abuse, neglect and family trauma. The organization runs another home in Owensboro and an independent living facility in Lexington. In addition residential treatment, they operate a number of outpatient therapy and treatment programs.
Methodist Homes purchased the property in 2012 from Nicholasville attorney David Marshall. It includes a mid-1800s home, which Coy said will be completely renovated to act as a 4,000-square-foot administration building. The $15 million project, designed by Sherman Carter Barnhart architects, will also include a newly constructed, 31,000-square-foot building to house 20 or so residential treatment clients regularly living on the campus. In addition to two residential wings, Coy said the building will include a full-size gym; educational space; a kitchen and dining area; therapeutic offices; a medical clinic and offices for outpatient services.
There will be about 60 employees, ranging from clinical staff to maintenance workers, once the campus is fully operating next year, according to Coy. He stressed that the facility would not only touch the lives of those involved with the residential program.
Coy said the group has already secured a conditional use permit from Planning and Zoning and will be presenting their plans soon.
One service intended to impact young people beyond residential and outpatient clients is a substance abuse intervention and education program called “Next Steps.” Funded by a half-million-dollar Kentucky Kids in Recovery grant from the attorney general’s office, Coy said Next Steps has maintained a caseload of 70 clients. A 10-person staff that includes case workers and licensed therapists already work with young people and families in nine central Kentucky counties, including Jessamine.
Coy said his organization has taken a keen interest in substance abuse in part because it is at the root of many problems the young people at Methodist Homes have had to confront.
“It has been clear there is a need for this and it is totally necessary in this world we live in,” Coy said. “Without these troubles, there probably wouldn’t be a need for Methodist Homes at all, but we keep seeing them.”
The pastoral setting, complete with stables and ample pasture land, lent itself to fostering another one Methodist Homes’ initiatives. Coy said there are plans to establish and expand an equine therapy program.
Connection through education
Coy said Jessamine County was also attractive in large part because of the public school system in general and The Providence School’s serving students with non-traditional needs.
“Most of our kids It’s not they aren’t bright enough to learn well,” Coy said. “It’s not unusual for one of them to arrive after being in 10, 12 or 20 placements. When you get displaced that many times you tend to get disrupted educationally. We want to give them the opportunity to have some continuity.”
Matt Moore, assistant superintendent with Jessamine County Schools, said there will likely be one full time county teacher working at the Ashgrove Road facility. Some students will also able to transition into elective courses in the schools.
The relationship between Jessamine schools and Methodist Homes was already comfortable one. Coy said officials even consulted with architects during the design of the classroom areas in the future facility.
Moore said the working relationship was easy because it took shape a decade ago when there was uncertainty whether Woodford County Schools would continue as the district of record for Methodist Homes. He and other administrators went as far as developing a contract before the decision was made to continue closer to the Versailles facility.
Moore believes the arrangement will be mutually beneficial.
“When they purchased the land they made us aware immediately and were able to talk about the needs of some of the students they were serving,” Moore said. “They also talked about how they could support our needs. We do see us as a real partnership. We have some students who can use the kinds of services they provide. We have a really unique population here in Jessamine County and this is just another arrow in our quiver.”
Coy, whose daughter-in-law Emily Coy is assistant principal at Warner Elementary, has remained impressed with the success the district has had with students across the spectrum.
“It really is one of the reasons we chose Jessamine County,” Coy said. “They have a reputation, not only in that area but across the state. We look forward to being part of that.”