Merlene Davis: Hope Center expands services, offers tour of what's new

Travis Hart and Cathy Jacobs hung art donated by Keeneland in the lobby of a new clinic at the Hope Center.
Travis Hart and Cathy Jacobs hung art donated by Keeneland in the lobby of a new clinic at the Hope Center. Lexington Herald-Leader

When it was dedicated in 1993, the Hope Center was considered a shining jewel in Lexington's crown.

It was the result of a task force led by former Councilwoman Debra Hensley, and a community-wide effort to provide a central shelter and a variety of needed services for the city's homeless population.

Recently, the original emergency shelter at 360 Loudon Avenue has been showing its age, especially when compared to newer facilities that have been built nearby.

But not anymore.

The Hope Center is hosting an open house Thursday to show off recent renovations and additions, including a medical clinic named for one of its first supporters.

The Dr. Gordon Hyde Hope Health Clinic, featuring six exam rooms and a new reception area, is named for the retired University of Kentucky surgeon.

Cathy Jacobs, a Hope Center board member who, along with her husband, donated the Don and Cathy Jacobs House and Jacobs Hope Cafeteria last year, said Hyde was "very instrumental" in opening the shelter, but he wanted more.

Hyde, a recovering alcoholic, helped get the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program established at the center, and he wanted to help homeless people who were struggling with that addiction.

The renovations include an improved wing specifically for veterans, and a new dormitory where the cafeteria had been, adding space for 57 new beds.

The face lift features bright colors, Jacobs said, to make the building a "happier environment."

"We wanted to bring the shelter up to par with the other buildings," she said.

Other services offered at the emergency shelter are a detox unit and social service programs.

Perhaps the most welcome change is the new Hope Mobile, a customized motor home that replaces one that has been in operation since 1995.

Carrie Thayer, director of development at the center, said the vehicle will continue the work of the older vehicle: traveling to downtown church parking lots Monday through Friday, providing sack lunches, basic medical services and HIV testing kits, and information to direct the homeless or near-homeless to resources in the area.

The Hope Center has programs for those with mental health problems, employment assistance, transitional housing and permanent housing. The center also provides more than 38,000 meals each month.

"The shelter was in bad shape, and now it has a new cheery look," Jacobs said. "What has changed is the whole feel of the shelter. You will get a new feel when you walk in the door. The community has been so supportive."

The jewel in Lexington's crown is shining still.


What: Tour of the Hope Center's new Dr. Gordon Hyde Hope Health Clinic, Emergency Shelter renovations and the new HopeMobile.

When: 3-6 p.m. Sept. 26.

Where: Hope Center Emergency Shelter, 360 Loudon Ave.

Information: Call (859) 225-4673.

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