As we mature in life, it’s a natural progression that most of us want to make a difference in a certain charity or organization that strikes a chord with us. It’s also a way for us to teach our own children that giving back is important.
Community service isn’t about padding one’s resume; it’s about doing things that make us proud for what we stand for. There are countless charities and causes that desperately need our help to ensure a difference. So when asked by a dear friend to visit the West End School for an afternoon, one thing was for sure: I would walk away feeling as though I had done my due diligence by finding out what exactly the school was all about.
Reflecting back on bits and pieces of an article I read from a local magazine, as well as fleeting discussions with friends, I arrived believing I was well informed about the school and its founders, Robert and Debbie Blair. I soon realized that I, in fact, knew very little about them and their extensive commitment to the betterment of our community.
Robert served as Kentucky Country Day’s Head Master from 1991-2002. While at the helm of KCD, he was an active member of Leadership Louisville Center that is dedicated to developing leaders who serve as catalysts to build a stronger community.
While accompanying a police officer on routine runs in the West End, Robert experienced first hand just exactly why this area of town could benefit from the efforts of Leadership Louisville.
The first incident was to investigate a 12-year-old boy holding his mother at knifepoint. Luckily, there was a happy ending to what could’ve been heartwrenching. Similar situations occurred during the course of that evening, and they proved to be the catalyst of Robert’s dream for kids less fortunate.
He soon realized that while the boys were seemingly like any other teenagers, their home lives and upbringings had the makings of a bleak future.
Robert believed that a rigorous year-round boarding school was desperately needed in this community. With the help of community leaders and a little persuasion from Reverend Awkard from New Zion Baptist Church, the West End School became a reality in 2005.
The experimental program has shown remarkable progress, and its first graduating class has gone on to receive scholarships to prestigious secondary schools throughout Kentucky. As the school has grown from three boys’ to twelve and with the capacity to house twenty-four, the commitment from others to get involved has increased, too.
Robert and Debbie are quick to credit Russell Awkard and his church for the foundation that is the campus, and give kudos to the devotion of Ben and Amanda Payne, Carrie Peterson and countless other volunteers who dedicate countless hours to lend a hand in whatever ways are needed to keep this ship sailing.
Category: Take It or Leave It
About the Author (Author Profile)
Lori Kommor, Columnist/Event Chair
Lori wears many hats: writing two weekly columns, chairing The
Voice-Tribune’s events and keeping the staff fed with a stash of snacks
Willy Wonka would envy. She’s a fervent high school soccer fan (go
Collegiate!) and has the raspy voice to prove it after game days.