Jefferson County Commission

JeffCo to Consider Funding for Roebuck Y With Comprehensive Community Services

VA Police Dept Officer Tim Leatherwood speaks to Jefferson County Commission about program to help veterans in need. (Source: Jefferson County Commission)

Jefferson County Commissioners on Tuesday decided to send a resolution to Thursday’s agenda that would provide ARPA funds to fill in the gap in the YMCA’s revitalization project for its Roebuck Community facility.

YMCA President and CEO Dan Pile said inflation left the Y with a $1.87 million shortfall in its efforts to build a new, comprehensive center. The commission intends to fill that gap using federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“When we started looking at what our needs are in the community, our volunteers decided that we’re going to look at the unmet needs, not needs,” Pile said. “A lot of organizations want to migrate to needs and that’s the easy route. We decided we’re going to go where no one else could.”

The Y leader said a yearlong study was conducted that shed light on health inequities, early learning inequities and housing inequities, especially homeownership which, he said, creates stable communities.

“Those are really critical,” he said. “The pandemic even brought out more issues around mental health, the lack of mental health care. We realized that we couldn’t do it by ourselves, so we assembled some of the best partners in the city.”

Christ Health will provide a pediatric clinic and Impact Family Counseling will have a “world-class counseling center” to address crisis intervention. Habitat for Humanity and Meals on Wheels will also be involved.

“This project represents a really bold vision of how we can be transformational, not just incremental, in our work,” Pile said. “Your help really, really matters. Inflation just killed us when it came down to construction costs and you guys are really helping close the gap.”

Commissioner Mike Bolin said this action “makes you feel good to be a commissioner, doesn’t it?”

“It does,” Commissioner Lashunda Scales said, “when you’re keeping families together.”

Commission President Jimmie Stephens said the allocation is in line with the commission’s mission, “to improve the quality of life, and this indeed does.”

Commissioners also heard from Veterans Affairs Police Department Officer Tim Leatherwood about the establishment of a Veterans Response Team that helps law enforcement act when they encounter a veteran in crisis.

The goal, Leatherwood said, is to link law enforcement in Jefferson and surrounding counties with the means to contact appropriate help for veterans. VRT is distributing cards with a QR code that officers can scan to access all resources that are available.

“Maybe they’re outside and it’s cold and they’re homeless,” Leatherwood said. “Whatever the case might be, they can scan the QR code and it’ll open up all the resources that the VA has, but also the local, nonveteran potential resources.”

Commissioner Joe Knight suggested that the program be presented at an upcoming meeting of Jefferson County Mayors Association as a means to disseminate the information.