Another holiday season is upon us, and with it, thoughts turn to giving — especially for those in need. It isn’t often that we turn the spotlight on our donors, givers and doers. For that reason, we sat down with Laura Menge, a Covington resident generously given her time and talent to support Lincoln Grant Scholar House.
Q: Explain how and why you first got involved with LGSH.
A: LGSH is located in my Covington neighborhood, but it wasn’t until I served on the Impact 100 grant-making committee that I became well acquainted with the program’s proven approach to fighting the cycle of generational poverty.
LGSH has been open less than a year, but it has already received wide recognition for its remarkable work. In addition to receiving the highly competitive Impact 100 grant, NKCAC has just received the Kentucky Nonprofit Network’s 2017 Innovative Nonprofit Award for LGSH. This award recognizes inventive, nontraditional programs that effectively meet community needs.
I was drawn to LGSH because of the notable results the Scholar House model produces. Many kids who lived with their parent in the first Family Scholar House (started in Louisville 15 years ago and after which LGSH is modeled), are now enrolled in postsecondary education. Additionally, when first semester grades for LGSH parents came in last June, most were above a 3.6 GPA. Those milestones resonated with me, and with many of the voting Impact 100 members.
The swell of community support for LGSH from corporate partners, city government, nearby colleges, collaborating nonprofits and local funders demonstrates what I know to be true: LGSH is a fantastic and important asset to our region.
Q: In addition to giving time and money, how can people support LGSH?
A: Because most families have very little when they move to the LGSH — 80 percent of residents were formerly homeless — providing household items and necessities is a wonderful way to welcome them to their new home. NKCAC collects donations of “move-in” kits, which include cleaning supplies, laundry baskets, kitchen towels and shower curtains. The children’s library also collects books and kid-friendly computers/educational software.
Q: What do you find most satisfying about your involvement with LGSH?
A: As a neighbor, I watched with joy as the long-vacant historic building was beautifully restored, bringing life back to a part of Covington where drivers wouldn’t deliver pizza a year ago because it was considered unsafe. Now it’s a vibrant residential campus with 45 apartments, computer labs, family fitness center, theater and children’s library. It’s wonderful to see children on the playground and families eating together at the picnic tables. And it’s terrific to know that a building that served as Covington’s public school for African-American students from 1932 to 1965 has been preserved and redeveloped to continue the promoting education.
Q: What excites you most about the future of LGSH?
A: What’s most exciting is how LGSH will position families to secure well-paid careers after they graduate. Families moving into LGSH will one day move out to homes they will own. Their kids will know the value of education and will value it themselves. And the empty apartments will be quickly filled — the waitlist is long — with other families dedicated to completing their education and becoming economically self-sufficient.
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