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Linda Funk’s life of helping others began when she volunteered for a mentoring program during her college days at Eastern Kentucky University.
She thought she would be a physical therapist but after meeting the two slightly hyper boys she mentored through the program, she knew she wanted be involved in social work. Visits to the boys’ home, where they experienced poor living conditions, first exposed her to the life of those in poverty.
From then, she knew she wanted to work with the community. She’s still doing just that as part of the leadership of one of Elizabethtown’s most recognizable charities.
When Funk was younger, she wanted to make a difference by changing people but now realizes people have to change themselves. Her task is to help motivate them.
In 1975, she moved to Elizabethtown and was an unemployment claims examiner for two years. She later became a social worker. Through that profession, she managed a group home for emotionally disturbed girls, worked with foster care and adoption agencies, protective services and retired as a protective specialist.
Her work at Warm Blessings, a soup kitchen in Elizabethtown, began at her church. She is a member of College Heights Untied Methodist Church, where Warm Blessings initially was located. She was asked to serve as one of its original board members in 2005.
In the beginning, Warm Blessings only could serve meals three nights a week. After moving to its current facility on East Dixie Avenue, the program expanded. Dinner is served five nights a week, showers accessible to those with limited mobility are available by appointment, and a washer and dryer can be used by patrons.
The new location also allowed the organization to provide more supportive gestures that go beyond meal time.
Even though Funk had been a social worker all her life, Warm Blessings took her work to a personal level. As a social worker, she helped those in need connect with resources. As executive board chairwoman at Warm Blessings, she became the resource people go to for help.
“When you are that resource, it becomes more personal,” Funk said.
She considers it an honor to be able to help community members in need and that they allow her to help them. Their lives are in such uncertain situations, Funk said.
She’s glad Warm Blessings is a place where there are no questions asked and where people feel important and valued.
“I’m just glad to be a part of that,” she said.
Her goal is to create an environment of warmth and place where patrons know they have worth in society.
Funk’s favorite pieces of advice speak to that goal.
“Don’t jump to conclusions and try to give people the benefit of the doubt,” she said. “Also, think before you speak. It saves a lot of regrets.”
But she’s also a friend to the furry kind.
“My sidekick is Tucker,” Funk said.
Tucker is her 11-year-old Cocker Spaniel mix-breed dog. He’s had vision issues for four years because he has progressive retina atrophy. He’s usually two steps behind her at all times.
“He’s my buddy,” she said. “I don’t know what I’d do without him.”
She also had a cat that hung out by her back door. She let it in and it acted like it had lived there all its life. She called it Ms. Kitty until taking it to the vet and discovered it was a Mr. Kitty. She had the cat for eight years, until it was a victim of tainted pet food a few years ago.
Funk also was involved in the rescue of Franklin the Pug who made the news last year. Franklin was paralyzed after being hit by a car. Funk found him and took him to the vet and later got him hooked up to Karen Minton’s Pug rescue.
“Sometimes it’s not just people that get stranded, abandoned and abused,” Funk said. “Little dogs need us to.”
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or email@example.com.