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Op-ed: Your Community is a Caring and Responsible One

The following op-ed is written by Danielle Amrine, chief executive officer at Welcome House of Northern Kentucky

Ready for a little sunshine?

I love my job, and not only because I get to help people who need it more than most. I also get to see people and companies and organizations and elected officials at their absolute best. It’s a view not everyone has the privilege of experiencing. But if you could, you’d know as I do that there is an endless well of goodness in Northern Kentucky, which should give all of us hope for our collective future.

Our community is a caring community. Last year, thousands of your friends and neighbors helped Welcome House fulfill its mission to help the homeless, even in the grips of a frightening pandemic. They gave their time, treasures and talents. They provided warm clothes and hot meals. They developed innovative solutions, like creating handwashing stations from five-gallon buckets. They cooked, cleaned, sanitized, comforted and motivated. Donations of food, water, blankets, clothing and cash poured in from every conceivable corner of Northern Kentucky. They asked for nothing in return.

Our community is also a responsible community. The COVID-19 pandemic created for us the seemingly unsolvable riddle of how to care for people who by definition do not have a home in which to shelter or a family network to rely on for support. Your cities and counties were more than up to the task. They opened the Northern Kentucky Convention Center and welcomed the homeless to a clean, safe space.

They supplied food and water and manpower. Other cities had other solutions – including providing hotel rooms where the homeless could ride out the storm and funding for all manner of support. They made arrangements for us to continue supplying crucial services like mental health and addiction counseling using phones and video conferencing when the face-to-face option was impossible.

Your local businesses are amazing. Even though their own companies were being impacted, they still provided food, supplies and manpower. Our partners – including Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky, Family Promise, Bethany House, Urban Outreach, Fair Haven, Be Concerned and Salvation Army – pooled resources, divided up responsibilities and met the problem with a united front.

Nearly all of this happened outside the glare of the spotlight. It happened without fanfare. It was just Northern Kentucky being Northern Kentucky.

Our challenges are not over, and new challenges most assuredly lurk on the horizon. They always do. But when you’re tempted by despair, please know there is hope. At Welcome House, we see it every day.