SPEDA and City of Somerset partner on effort to make community’s housing, job, childcare and recovery resources easily accessible in one place
A new online resource database connecting people in need to housing, jobs, child care and recovery programs in Somerset-Pulaski County is now available to the community.
The Kentucky Area Resources network — or KARES — is an innovative tool for collecting and searching resources available in a community. The City of Somerset and the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) partnered to fund the website in response to conversations with community partners about how to address issues of homelessness and addiction in Somerset-Pulaski County.
KARES will include information about services available for everything from alcohol and drug abuse counseling, school resource, government assistance, transportation, housing, child care and more.
Somerset Mayor Alan Keck said while an online resource database like KARES is only one step in addressing challenges like homelessness and addiction, it is an important one: Being able to quickly and easily find help for someone in need could change the trajectory of someone’s life.
“The more we understand about one another and the services we provide, the more effective we can be in working together to tackle homelessness and addiction in our community,” Keck said. “We’ve made some important strides during the last year by bringing community partners to the table to better understand how each of them contributes to the cause. With the KARES network as a tool, we can now pool our resources and have help at our fingertips when we encounter someone in need.”
Aaron Poynter, director for reentry programming for the Cumberlands Workforce Development Board, developed the idea for KARES during the COVID-19 pandemic as it became increasingly difficult to keep a current list of resources in the 10-county area he serves.
“We are fortunate in our state and region to have so many resources for individuals that offer a hand up rather than a handout,” Poynter said.
But through his work, Poynter soon discovered individuals in need are often unaware of the help available to them. And interestingly, organizations providing resources often don’t know about one another.
“And that’s a huge problem,” Poynter said.
So Poynter contacted a technology company that helped him build KARES, a website that collects information about resources available in a given community and offers a search mechanism for those seeking help. The website’s calls to action — explore or get help — give community members an easy way to find resources in the database 24 hours a day.
Organizations interested in being listed on the KARES network should e-mail Poynter at email@example.com.
Poynter launched the KARES project in Russell County as a pilot, and it was a huge success for its workforce and community, he said. He has since launched the network in Barren, Hart, Adair, Monroe, and now Pulaski counties, and intends to take the network statewide.
SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler said to take a truly holistic approach to economic development, one must support programs for people from every walk of life. SPEDA is committed to doing so in an effort to improve the quality of life and livelihoods of others in Somerset-Pulaski County, he said.
“Whether through our community’s inmate reentry training program or now the KARES Network, SPEDA puts a high value on programs that offer support to anyone who wants to improve themselves or the lives of others,” Girdler said. “This is how we build a strong workforce and a quality of life that is second to none. I applaud Aaron’s efforts to make lending a hand a little easier in our community by collecting all resources in one digital space. SPEDA is proud to be a partner in this effort.”
To find or register a resource in Somerset-Pulaski County, visit https://www.kares.us/ and select “Explore resources by county.”