Unemployment was a major problem during the 1960's and 1970's. If LKLP was to be successful in eliminating poverty, it would be necessary to develop programs which would educate and train as well as develop jobs for those trained.
The LKLP Mainstream Program consisted of the Nelson Program and the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program. These programs were funded by the United States Department of Labor. The Mainstream hired men who were unemployed and met the poverty guidelines. The men were assigned to agencies such as Boards of Education, Fiscal Courts, city government, Division of Forestry, State Department of Highways, Eastern Kentucky Housing Development Corporation and to its County Community Action Agencies.
Some of the regulations were as follows:
- The project must service two or more families;
- There must be an easement or deed which allows the project to be used by the public;
- Materials must be furnished by the party requesting the projects;
- All community projects must be requested through the County Developer's (Office Manager) office and approved by the County Community Action Council (CAC).
These regulations applied to all projects with the exception of enrollees assigned to the Home Repair Program for the elderly. The Home Repair Committee established priorities for this project.
On-the-Job Training Program was a program operated by LKLP that enabled a worker to get a job and be paid a subsidy during the training period. This also assisted the employer while the worker completed his training. The employer was expected to pay 50% of the salary and to hire the trainee once the period of training was over. The program, in the early 1970's, could place a worker with an employer for 50 days to 120 days. It depended on the classification of the job. This program was funded through the United States Department of Labor.
The purpose of the OJT program was to find permanent jobs for the unemployed.
Neighborhood Youth Corps (NYC) In School Program
The program was established to provide summer jobs for students who have not attended school for six months or more, as well as, for other students needing financial assistance to remain in school.
One of the major problems of poverty in a rural area and especially in the LKLP area is transportation. LKLP established a medical transportation system. Trips in the early days of LKLP were made to Lexington and shorter trips to Harlan, Pineville, Middlesboro and other areas.
In 1973 a fee of five cents per mile was charged to those able to pay. Today, of course, the fee is much higher and other agencies pay most of the bill.
The Transportation Program has expanded to a sophisticated system including public, as well as medical, transportation.
Millstone Sewing Center
The Millstone Sewing Center made clothes for the poor in Letcher and Knott counties in Eastern Kentucky. The center employed elderly seamstresses who had no other opportunities for work.
Neighborhood Youth Corps participants also were assigned to the center. They were taught cooking, carpentry and home repair. Since 1966, this Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) funded program has served as an information center providing free clothing, bedding and shoes for thousands of rural people.
The center started with clothes from the Salvation Army, but later began to receive clothing direct. With OEO funding, money was available to hire five seamstresses. Mabel Kiser, the Director, felt that with consolidation of small schools, that not having proper clothes caused many students to drop out of school. Donated clothing was made to fit and occasionally was sold, but usually given to needy families. As the program developed new material was made available.
A lunch program was also established. Food stamps would last two weeks and then hunger and malnutrition would usually be present for the remainder of the month. The program worked with seamstresses, NYC workers and women in the community in budgeting and preparing food.
The Millstone Center was built on faith and was a tremendous help to many families. However, in 1972, the program was cut back due to lack of funds and eventually was phased out.
Edwin J. Safford, an employee from the Council of Southern Mountains, assisted Mrs. Kiser in organizing communities and developing the Millstone concept even before LKLP was formed. Safford later became LKLP's first Director.
The LKLP Cannery was funded by an OEO grant to provide a do it yourself service to all area residents. Anyone, not only low-income, could participate in the program. Citizens could bring meat, vegetables or fruits to can.
Only cans were used for canning. Glass jars were not stocked in the cannery, but citizens could bring their own jars.
The cannery was in a trailer that was equipped with modern equipment such as steam-jacket cookers, a large electric cake mixer, an automatic separator which removed solids (seeds and hulls) from tomatoes and fruits, and an electric hoist to lift racks of cans into and out of the retorts (big pressure cookers).
LKLP worked with extension agents and other groups to encourage residents to increase their home grown foods. This was a self-help project, but assistance was available when needed.
Pioneer Village development was, first of all, an attempt to salvage some historical log buildings from the Carr Fork Dam area. The idea was to relocate these buildings in a somewhat typical "holler" in Eastern Kentucky. The money to purchase the land came through the Kentucky River Area Development District (KRADD). This money was special impact funds originating with Farmers Home Administration. The property and the project belongs to the Knott County Development Association. LKLP has played a major role in the development of the project, but could not, by federal regulations, own property at the time of initial development.
The project has one of the best craft shops anywhere in the country, supplied solely by local craft persons. This craft shop is located in the Stamper cabin. The Johnson Cabin has the most historical significance and is not being developed as a museum. With the Johnson Cabin is a smokehouse and a barn or shed.
There are two other cabins upon the hill needing further developing. An early 1800 log school will soon be moved to the property and a road has been constructed up the mountain that will enable development to take place on the mountain. Hiking trails and horseback riding trails will be developed from this road.
Project Head Start
Head Start remains one of the most successful programs to come from the "War on Poverty". It was established to help prepare preschool children of low-income families for the experience school and the opportunity to develop social competence.
Head Start is much more than a typical preschool educational program. Activities are provided to stimulate emotional, intellectual, physical and social growth. Head Start focuses on involving parents and the community in a four component area: education, health, social services and parent involvement. The Policy Council, composed of at least 50% current parents and representatives from community groups and professional groups, is the decision body of Head Start. Parents also work in the Head Start Centers as paid teacher aides and volunteers.
The Head Start Centers not only provide a preschool educational program, but also provides lunches and snacks, medical, dental and mental health services. Training and Parent Education Act take place on site and in cluster. In recent years, Head Start has also served as job preparation sites for various programs.
Head Start is a community action program and can be operated by community action agencies or delegated by the agency to Boards of Education. There are some college sponsored Head Start Programs and other private non-profit organizations.
The Leslie County Health Program
The Leslie County Health Program (LCHP) was an Office of Health Affairs, Office of Economic Opportunity, Comprehensive Health Service Program serving the low-income residents of Leslie County. The Leslie County Development applied for the first grant and established the program, but after the Leslie, Knott, Letcher, Perry County merger, the program had to be funded through LKLP.
LCHP had six major components within its structure with two more training and social services in planning stages.
The components were: (1) medical, (2) dental, (3) school for individuals with intellectual/physical disabilites and handicapped (Hope House), (4) health, education and outreach, (5) transportation, and (6) environmental health.*
The program provided many services to the citizens of Leslie County and was directed to expand to the LKLP area.
The program was expanded and named the Mountain Comprehensive Health (MCHC) Program. Ike Vanderpool was the Director for a short period of time, but Lois Baker has been the Director for many years during the developmental period and the multi-county expansion, MCHC is a non-profit Kentucky Corporation and has been in operation since 1971. It is governed by a fifteen (15) member Board of Directors and is one of the largest rural health programs in the Nation.
MCHC has 18.5 physicians, four dentists and employees totaling 170. It has clinics in Buckhorn (Perry County), Booneville (Owsley County), Jackson (Breathitt County), Cornettsville (Perry County) and Whitesburg (Letcher County).
They have an annual budget of $8.5 million and annually serve over 25,000 patients. Patients are charged on a sliding scale depending on income. MCHC delivers around 400 babies per year.
MCHC plans to start construction on their own clinic building in the fall of 1995 at a cost in access of $3.5 million dollars.
*As reported on June 30, 1971
College Work Study (Off Campus)
Under the Youth Enrichment Program, a college work study (off campus) was implemented. Colleges and Universities had federal money available to hire needy students to work on campus during the summer months to assist in expenses to continue their education. LKLP, with assistance through the Kentucky Association for Community Action, established an off campus program with the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority where through CAA's students could do community work for their work study experience.
In 1966, there was a merger on paper of the LKLP counties, but it took some time to merge programs of the individual counties. The staffing patterns reinforced the county identity rather than a four-county organization.
The country structure included a County Developer, an Office Manager, Supervisors and outreach or community workers. Development was on a county emphasis rather than a multi-county effort.
OEO insisted that we must break down these county boundaries with programs of a four-county emphasis and to also change the county developer to a more specific title and a four-county responsibility.
The four areas were Community Organization, Economic Development, Youth Enrichment and Consumer Action and Financial Counseling.
In the early years, OEO stressed community organization. The theory was that citizens, especially the poor, should have a say in the things that affect them. If a community is organized and can speak as a group, it can get things done in a timely manner to improve the community and the lives of its poor.
LKLP took this direction for community organization seriously and established a community organization component. This component worked directly with communities helping them to organize and establish neighborhood councils with a board and officers and even incorporating if the community desired. In many instances, a worker or community organizer (CO) would be assigned to the community. Community centers were built, some repaired and many other community improvements developed.
The CO aides helped the councils to set up priorities and to implement programs already planned. They worked with families and individuals attempting to find solutions for problems. A good CO would not only know services available through LKLP, but would also know other agencies services available.
Organized Communities would elect a representative who would take the community priorities to a county council. The county council would then develop county priorities that would then be sent by elected representatives to the full LKLP Board. The community organizers and the community organization component were very important parts of the early community action and the "war on poverty".
Consumer Action and Financial Counseling
This program was concerned with providing guidance, information and referral services to low-income consumers who could not satisfy their basic needs due to a lack of income.
Consumer education classes were established in the four-county area to carry out its objectives. These classes were designed to assist low-income consumers on wise use of credit, to determine values of merchandise, to develop family budgets and, overall, to provide consumer education training.
The classes were arranged by the consumer education aides and were conducted by qualified nutritionists or home economists from local health departments and the University of Kentucky Extension Service. The consumer aides also conducted individual or family counseling for those who could not attend group sessions.
This component was directed by Tom Jones.
Youth Enrichment and Development Program
LKLP initiated for the Fiscal Year 1970/1971 a Youth Enrichment and Development Program.
The objectives of the program were as follows:
- To provide young people, ages 14 through 25, with a formal voice in planning and implementing programs in which youth increased their ability to deal with problems affecting their lives;
- To work toward common objectives, especially on behalf of their own neighborhood, community or county, and bring about a positive change in the values, aspirations and behavior of the young;
- To prepare young people to deal more effectively with the institution designed to serve them and be seeking together to become instrumental in not only expressing their needs to those institutions, but also to be able to changed them in order to improve the quality of life in their neighborhood, community and county. The benefits from this organization would provide a mechanism for young people to express themselves and cope with decision-making, allowing young people to become active themselves, fully involved in the affairs of their community, to prove that opportunities can and do exist through working together.
Most LKLP programs work with low-income people. The youth program did work primarily with youth from disadvantaged families but also did work with youth who were above income guidelines if the needs were there.