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Asked about the work of state Rep. Jimmie Lee, local human services providers begin their remarks much the same way.
“If not for Jimmie Lee ...”
Representatives from the Advocacy and Support Center, Communicare and SpringHaven domestic violence center are among the people asked to speak at an appreciation dinner Friday in Lee’s honor.
Bob Moore, chairman of the Hardin County Democratic Party, is organizing the program at Pritchard Community Center. He said he had no trouble convincing the social services community in participating in a political fundraiser recognizing Lee’s service over two decades in the legislature.
“They were delighted,” Moore said.
The agencies were quick with their praise.
“He does have the heart for those who sometimes don’t have a voice,” said Tonya Thomas, executive director of SpringHaven.
“The biggest thing he’s done is protect our funding,” said Ken Brewster, office manager of Hardin County ARC, which works with the intellectually disabled. “It’s a godsend.”
“He’s very dedicated to human services and getting people the help they need,” said Nikki Ellis, executive director of the Advocacy and Support Center.
Lee’s efforts on behalf of society’s most fragile residents have been recognized nationally.
The National Adult Day Services Association awarded its Sen. John Heinz Memorial Award to the Elizabethtown Democrat. He also became the first Kentuckian to receive the Jacob K. Javits Award from the American Psychiatric Association, having been recommended for his efforts on behalf of vulnerable, ailing Kentuckians.
The local advocacy center recognized Lee’s contributions to its mission of assisting victims of sexual abuse by naming its Elizabethtown office after him.
“He is crucial in making sure we retain our funding,” said Ellis, whose organization assisted more than 450 children victims and their families last year.
Patty McAnly, who operates ARC’s Project Learn that provides jobs for handicapped adults, said Lee has “come to our rescue” to secure funding.
She also credits his first-hand involvement and investment of time. She credits Lee with securing grant money through the state general fund to protect the employment project.
Thomas relayed a story that predates her 14-year experience at SpringHaven. In the earliest days of the shelter’s operation, the representative toured the house and noticed its limited restroom facilities.
“He asked, ‘Where do the children take a bath?’ We didn’t have a bathtub,” she said. “He was appalled at that.”
Thomas said Lee found money for the shelter’s first addition in 2002, which included a new restroom with a bathtub.
Lee also helped push the teen dating violence bill, which SpringHaven supports, through the House last year. It failed to win Senate approval but Thomas expects it to resurface.
“There’s no doubt in my mind, he will be on it,” she said.
Political figures including Sheriff Charlie Williams, former Kentucky House Speaker Jody Richards of Bowling Green and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes also are among those scheduled to speak at Friday’s banquet.
Ben Sheroan can be reached at 270-505-1764 or email@example.com.
Admission to the Jimmie Lee Appreciation Dinner is $20 per person. Tickets will be available at the door but advance notification is requested. Call Bob Moore at 737-5545 for a reservation. The program, which begins with a meal at 6:30 p.m. Friday, is a benefit for the Hardin County Democratic Executive Committee’s campaign fund.