Bowling Green, Ky (WBKO) - United Way of Southern Kentucky was founded in 1956, born from the concern of people who wanted to help their neighbors in need.
By 2012 through the use of community surveys, the non-profit organization developed a Community Impact Plan that focused on improving our communites in four key areas: Education, Income, Health and Safety Net.
Top Crops is the name of a garden of the Western Kentucky University Ag Farm that is maintained by adults with special needs, and in a round-about way it's helping bolster the income in the Bowling Green community.
"What we offer is the opportunity for them to learn a skill so that they can go out into the world and perhaps work at a nursey or a farm," explained Co-Founder Carol Greer.
Greer says the idea for Top Crops was born after worrying what came next for their daughter Ginna, who to this day volunteers in the garden and then helps sell the crops at the Community Farmer's Market on Nashville Road on Saturdays.
"We grow flowers, and potatoes, and tomatoes and we also have to harvest every Friday morning," says Ginna Greer, listing off only a few of the crops she works with.
"We see a lot of growth for her," says Bill Greer, Ginna's dad and the Co-Founder of Top Crops. "She gets to be social, gets to connect with people."
United Way believes it's arguable that when individuals are able to be financially independent and contribute to society in their own capacity, everything else in their life will also fall in line.
Through the skills they've developed at Top Crops, both Ginna and her fellow gardner John Michael Huffman have secured jobs in the food service business.
"I help Coach Bill with broccoli and carrots," smiles Huffman.
When the community surveys were conducted, they revealed that people were not only concerned with making sure people had approperiate skills that would allow them to maintain a living-wage employment, but also that there must be ample jobs in our community to match those skills.
Each year United Way hosts the Day of Caring, and partners with Top Crops to ensure their mission lives on.
"It means the world to us but not only that, Top Crops wouldn't be here without United Way and the people who've taken part in the United Way Day of Caring.
The 2017 United Way Day of Caring is coming up on July 26th. Call (270) 843-3205 to find out how you can volunteer.