In the early 1980’s several individuals and churches saw a need for some degree of cooperative effort for providing emergency assistance to people in the community. The Neighborhood Assistance Program, operating out of an individual’s home (Ruth Brugh) attempted to facilitate the collection and distribution of food and clothing. This program was ineffective in helping people meet the needs and was discontinued.
Fern Creek/Highview United Ministries (FC/HUM)–congregations united in serving the Fern Creek and Highview communities- officially began June 13, 1988. Area pastors who were members of the Fern Creek/Highview Ministerial Association noticing an increasing number of coming to their churches for help looked for a way to assist such individuals in a responsible systematic way, while being good stewards of limited resources, chose a community ministry model that was already well developed in many other communities throughout Louisville and Jefferson County. A group of representatives from 11 different churches met in the basement of Fern Creek United Methodist Church and committed to move beyond their denominational ties to work together to meet the needs of their community.
FC/HUM’s first Executive Director was hired. In the beginning, FC/HUM’s primary service was emergency assistance; this included food, clothing, financial assistance, and health aide equipment loan. Before long monthly blood pressure checks and help with voter registration were also available. Fund raisers such as Bowl-a-thons and Softball tournaments enabled the hiring of a part-time Emergency Assistance Coordinator.
In 1989, an Adult Day Care pilot project was launched, by a student from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, to assess the need for services for the frail elderly and their families. In 1990, through a grant from the Area Agency on Aging the Adult Day Center was opened as a social model center on the property of St. Bernard’s Catholic Church that undertook extensive remodeling to make their convent suitable for this service. The first ADC Director was hired along with other needed staff. FC/HUM also began participating in the Homeless Families Prevention Project and a Thanksgiving Club was initiated to allow individuals to contribute to FC/HUM during 1990.
In 1991 a Life Skills Program was implemented through a special grant from Louisville United Against Hunger (LUAH). In 1992 G.E.D. classes started in conjunction with the Fern Creek Rotary Club. FC/HUM held a Golf Scramble as a fund-raiser. In 1993, FC/HUM began a relationship with the Jeffersontown community to assist them in starting their own community ministry that continued through 1995 when the Jeffersontown Area Ministries separated and began functioning on its own. In 1994, the Fairview Homemakers donated the proceeds of their annual quilt raffle to benefit Fern Creek/Highview United Ministries. In 1995 FC/HUM held it’s first Cake Auction and began selling FC/HUM shirts as fund-raisers.
In 1996, the Adult Day Center was licensed to operate as a Health model Adult Day Center providing nursing services as well as its social program, FC/HUM started selling grocery certificates, and the first Progressive Dinner fund-raiser was held. St. Stephen Charismatic Episcopal Church and Good Shepherd Church both joined FC/HUM in 1996.
1997 was a very significant year in the life of the Emergency Assistance Program. The name of the program was changed to the Individual & Family Assistance Center (IFAC) and moved from a three-day operation to five days a week. A full-time Masters level social worker was hired as the Director of this expanded program. Also, in 1997, FC/HUM began Friends in Action, a mentoring program to assist chronically struggling families. In 1997, FC/HUM published its own cookbook, began quarterly youth events, and participated in several church and community festivals, as well as the National Interfaith Community Ministries Conference held in Louisville that year. In December the ADC received a (first) grant from the Eagles A.C. Men’s group of St. Ignatius Catholic Church from proceeds of their monthly chicken dinners.
In 1998 two more churches, Bethany Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Highview Baptist, joined FC/HUM. FC/HUM also celebrated its Tenth Anniversary, capped with the creation of a ministry quilt featuring seventeen member churches. In 1999, the health aide program was re-energized and formally started as the Health Equipment Loan Program (HELP) under the administration of the Adult Day Director and through the generosity of Fern Creek Mini Storage (later Fern Creek Space Center) that provided storage space for the equipment. This year also marked the first annual FCHUM James O. Leach Hunger Awareness Dinner as a joint fund-raising and awareness event for the IFAC and the Community Hunger Walk. 1999 also saw the renewal of LIGHT UP FERN CREEK Christmas festivities in cooperation with area civic/community groups. FC/HUM offered the first LOVELIGHT TREE as an opportunity for memorial and in honor gifts.
In 2000, the Progressive Dinner was changed to an Annual Dinner and Auction all in one location. Solid Rock Church of God joined becoming FC/HUM’s eighteenth church, now including thirteen denominations. The IFAC office moved to the Fern Creek Community Center and FC/HUM took over management of the Community Center in exchange for space. In 2001, Louisville Trinity Church joined FC/HUM. In 2002, Seaton Park Baptist joined FC/HUM bringing the total member churches to nineteen.
2003 proved to be a pivotal year in the life of FC/HUM. Two smaller churches dissolved lessening the list of member churches to seventeen. In May, upon the resignation of the Executive Director, Rev. Ron Loughry, the Adult Day Center’s Director since 1996 was selected to serve as FCHUM’s new Executive Director. Rev. Loughry, in consideration of budget concerns proposed that he continue to serve as the Adult Day Director as well (for one salary), but with the help of hiring a full-time Administrative Assistant. This proposal was accepted and implemented in June 2003. FCHUM also produced its second cookbook. FCHUM began holding Summer and Christmas benefit concerts featuring groups from member churches. Due to changes at the Community center, FCHUM ceased to manage the Center and began paying rent for the IFAC space.
In 2004, the Administrative Assistant and the part-time Bookkeeper positions were combined once again into one full-time position. The ADC Nurse position was also expanded into the ADC Health Services & Activities Coordinator position as the nurse qualified to perform case-management and activities duties. Also in 2004, the Annual Dinner & Auction was revamped into the “Pennies From Heaven” Annual GALA Dinner and Auction.
The summer of 2005 brought both challenge and promise to FCHUM. During the Spring of 2005, new churches, New Vision Ministry Center and the Louisville Chinese Christian Church, joined FCHUM, bringing membership to nineteen representing 12 denominations, in addition to the Fern Creek/Highview Ministerial Association. Also in 2005, due to changes at the Fern Creek Community Center regarding the conditions of the IFAC lease, FCHUM was faced with the reality of needing to relocate. Faced with the challenge to find new and adequate space for the IFAC, Beulah Presbyterian Church offered to lease property to FCHUM for $1.00 a year and challenged the community to support a building campaign. Two task forces were formed (Construction & Financial), construction professionals from various churches stepped forward volunteering their services as did several people with financial background and the FCHUM “Building To Serve” campaign took off. It was decided, that while building, FCHUM should plan on consolidating all of its services under one roof, so plans to relocate the ADC were also implemented.
The winter of 2006 brought an opportunity for all the community ministries to partner with Metro government and LG &E through matching grants to provide greater assistance to families in need. FCHUM raised $7,000 that was matched by Metro government and that $14,000 was matched by LG&E to provide us with $28,000 available to provide assistance with utilities.
In the spring of 2006 a ceremonial ground-breaking took place at the site of FCHUM’s future home. Pastors, Board members, FCHUM Staff and Volunteers, Metro Council people, and other civic & community leaders put shovels to ground to celebrate the beginning of the “Building To Serve” campaign. In May the Executive Director paid Beulah Presbyterian $1.00 and signed the first lease for the new property. With the beginning of the new fiscal year in July 2006, the part-time IFAC assistant position was expanded into a full-time IFAC Assistant & Development Coordinator position. The Fall brought about some new beginnings in the Highview community with FCHUM providing leadership in the establishment of the Highview Business Association, the Highview Fall Festival and the Highview Holiday Fest. Santa Claus made an appearance on a bulldozer at the new property promising that work would soon begin.
2007 would be a year of great accomplishments in building the new facility located on Beulah Presbyterian’s property. ST. Gabriel’s Men’s Club held a Basketball challenge versus Metro government employees to raise funds for the Building To Serve Campaign, an Applebee’s Pancake Breakfast was also held. Cedar Creek Baptist organized a fund-raising event at Outback Restaurant as well. By mid-spring the foundation had been dug, and the driveway and parking lots had also been laid out. By summer framing had begun. FCHUM was blessed with an additional church joining when Fairmount Baptist joined during the late summer of 2007. With the resignation of the IFAC Case Worker/Development Coordinator it was decided to revert that position back to a part-time IFAC case worker only. That position was filled in the fall. In September FCHUM held a putt-putt tournament.
2008, the year celebrating the ministries’ 20th anniversary saw the addition of yet another church, LifeBridge Christian, and the completion of the new facility. It was also decided to create a 20th anniversary quilt. On April 1st, 2008 the IFAC started operations at the new site. The Central Office relocated in mid-April and the ADC opened on April 29th in its new home. By the end of April all of FCHUM operations had consolidated under one roof at 9300 Beulah Church Road. FCHUM had crossed over Jordan and entered the Promised Land. On Wednesday May 28th a ribbon-cutting was held and on Saturday June 14th FCHUM held a special service celebrating 20 years of uniting congregations and the community in service! During the summer it was decided to once again separate the Administrative Assistant and Bookkeeper positions due to increased work load in those areas. In late summer FCHUM began serving as a Meals On Wheels site under Metro Nutrition management.
2009 began with great news. The near miraculous endeavors of the Building To Serve task force continued. At the beginning of January the debt for our new facility was approximately $170,000, but through another grant initiated by Metro Councilman and St. Gabriel member Robin Engel totaling $54,500 and other donations received the debt was reduced to approximately $100,000 by the end of the month. Bob Beard (a member of Cedar Creek Baptist), who served as volunteer contractor, organized another Outback Restaurant fund-raiser in March which raised about $10,000. Then St. Gabriel announced that as part of its Capital Campaign they would take responsibility for $80,000 of the debt this year leaving just $20,000 to retire the debt. On October 16, 2009 the amount was paid off in full. The Building to Serve Task Force then decided to initiate a new Phase II initiative called Investing To Serve: Legacy of Caring with the intent of creating a designated account to help underwrite future facility expenses and operating costs. By the end of 2009 that fund had raised $34,000.
In the late summer of 2009, FCHUM took over coordinating and supervising the volunteers for the Meals on Wheels program. Also, over 2008-2009 IFAC once again served record numbers of families and individuals, seeing tremendous increase in need. The ADC continued to serve frail older adults and their families, many of whom were also feeling the effects of the harder economy. In the late summer of 2009 Peace Lutheran Church joined FCHUM; however New Vision Ministry Center left the area in September. Forrest Park Community Church joined FCHUM in the spring of 2010 bringing the total member churches to 21, representing 12 denominations. That summer the ADC recreated its Activity Coordinator position. In a joint decision with various community groups, FCHUM decided to call a hiatus to the annual Light up Fern Creek in order to re-evaluate community support and involvement of other groups. The Highview Holiday Fest continued with great support.
In 2011, Lighthouse Worship & Ministry Center joined FCHUM during the summer bringing membership to 23 churches representing 12 denominations. The total in the Legacy Fund hovered near $50,000. In the Autumn of 2011 Fern Creek United Methodist Church resurrected their famous Burgoo Festival after a long hiatus, but this time with the intent to benefit FCHUM. It was a wonderful success.
During 2012, FCHUM continued its work of providing vital social services to the community, helped sponsored the first summer of Friday Fests at Highview Park. The IFAC was honored as one of Dare To Care’s top five food distribution centers for the quality of its service to the public. Under a challenge from a Koinoia group at St. Bernard’s, the first ever Cans for Kids summer food drive brought in over 3,750 pounds of food. Several concerts benefitting FCHUM were also held. FCUMC held their Burgoo Festival again with all funds, including a matching gift, donated to FCHUM
2013 marked FCHUM’s 25th anniversary. The theme – “a quarter century of compassionate care” tying in with Louisville Metro’s theme of becoming a Compassionate City as part of a national challenge. At their Spring meeting, Dare to Care named the IFAC “Jefferson County Food Pantry of the Year.” This honor also included a $500 award. On June 15th, 2013 FCHUM held a 25th anniversary celebration in connection with the 2nd annual Summer “Feed The Children” food drive. A celebration on the grounds included a cavalcade of church canopies, the food drive, tours, blessing ceremony led by Executive Director Rev. Ron Loughry and St. Stephen Anglican rector, Father Jim Curry, and proclamation and presentation ceremony. Charles Treston, who worked for FCHUM for 23 years (he worked in the ADC since it opened in 1990), was honored upon his retirement as the first “Emeritus” staff. A new ADC director was hired on July 1st, finally allowing the Executive Director to split his two positions that he held “temporarily” for ten years. In December of 2013, Zachry Holdings, a Texas construction company working on a plant for LG&E, chose FCHUM to be the recipient of their local community project and delivered 24 tons of food to IFAC.
During the winter months of 2014, long time administrative assistant/bookkeeper Kathy Crenshaw retired. She brought a good share of professionalism and a warm smile with her to FCHUM. Once again, FCHUM experienced a successful “Pennies From Heaven” GALA on the second Saturday of May. The summer Cans for Kids food drive was once again blessed. IFAC continued to meet the needs of record numbers of individuals and families. The ADC experienced a rough passage through the summer with the loss of 3 of 5 staff within a relatively short period of time. However, thanks to the heroic efforts of the Nurse and Activity Coordinator, along with retired staff coming back to help out, as well as the Executive Director stepping back into the ADC Director role, the ADC’s service to seniors and their caregivers carried on without interruption or lessening of quality. New staff were hired, trained, and blended in, and the ADC was rolling smoothly along again before the end of summer. FCUMC once again held their Burgoo Festival with all proceeds benefitting FCHUM. In December the FCHUM Christmas Benefit Concert was held at The Believers Church publicized as a Music and Arts Fest to broaden participation. It was quite a success and enjoyed by all attending.
2015 welcomed two Eagle Scout projects for the Adult Day Center: the building of several raised planting platforms allowing participants easy access to planting and tending plants, and the building of two wooden benches and the refurbishing of the wire mesh patio furniture. Throughout the year FCHUM continued to participate in, and provide leadership for several ongoing community events such as the FCCA&CC Expo, the Fairview Homemakers Auction, various church picnics and mission fairs, the local meeting of the White House Conference on Aging, National Night Out, the KAAD conference, and various festivals. Executive Director Rev. Ron Loughry was the recipient of Elder Serve’s 2015 Champion For Aging award which also brought recognition and donations to FCHUM.
2016 saw the beginning ideas for FCHUM’s 30th Anniversary celebration planned for 2018. FCHUM joined in the efforts of the Greater Louisville Area Aging in Place Alliance (GLAIPA), staff provided leadership to the local Women’s World Day of Prayer. The 2016 “Pennies From Heaven” GALA experienced its highest results ever. Fairmont Baptist Church along with others in the community held a Singing For Soup Karaoke event that collected around 1,500 food items and over $2,000 in donations that were matched through the Meijer Simply Give Campaign. The Summer Cans for Kids Food Drive also experienced its highest collection total. Traditions at Beaumont held the first Fall Chili Cook-Off to benefit FCHUM. Executive Director Rev. Ron Loughry observed his 20th work anniversary. The Legacy Campaign also continued to grow. Eleanor Young (a member of Beulah Presbyterian church) who volunteered with IFAC since its opening in 1988, and was noted as the only official unpaid FCHUM staff person, retired.
2017 served as the threshold of FCHUM’s 2018 30th anniversary celebration. The year did have some challenges, mainly concerning the health of ADC Director Stephanie Hodge who experienced ovarian cancer and was out for several months. Executive Director Rev. Ron Loughry (former ADC Director) was able to step back in to cover. Thankfully, Stephanie returned in late summer cancer free. The Pennies from Heaven GALA continued with great success. Traditions at Beaumont held their 2nd annual Chili-Cook Off for FCHUM. Scouting for Food continued successfully as well netting over 17,000 items collected on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. December also marked the 20th year that the ADC received financial support from the Eagles men’s group of St. Ignatius Catholic Church’s chicken dinners. IFAC Director Renee Bryant was recognized at the Christmas Benefit Concert, and presented with a plaque, honoring her 20th anniversary with FCHUM.
At the end of 2017, Central Office staff includes the Executive Director Rev. Ron Loughry, MA, MDIV, who joined FCHUM in May of 1996 as the ADC Director and became Executive Director in June of 2003, and a full-time Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper (this position was recombined during the summer of 2009) Lynn Humphrey, MSW, MDIV. The ADC staff includes the Program Director – Stephanie Hodge, MSSW, the Health Services Coordinator (Nurse) Alice Quinker, LPN serving since May of 2002, three Activity Assistants: Chris Roberts, Sean Mays, Casey Brown, and numerous volunteers. Renee Bryant, MSW/CSW, has served as the Individual & Family Assistance Center Director since December 1997. The IFAC staff additionally includes a Case Worker position shared by Maria Miller, MSW and Alice Braasch, MEd, and numerous volunteers. FC/HUM is blessed with the assistance of over 100 volunteers. FCHUM continues hosting several student interns each year from local professional academic programs.
2018 has arrived and FCHUM has crossed the threshold into its 30th anniversary year! In addition to the regular ongoing programs and activities like the Pennies From Heaven GALA scheduled for Saturday May 12th, FCHUM is also planning a 30th anniversary celebration on Saturday June 9th highlighting all the blessings since 1988. Supporting congregations and community partners will be joining in the festivities as the Summer Cans for Kids Food Drive culminates that day as well. FCHUM, in the spirit of I Samuel 7, will also be raising an Ebenezer stone on the property recognizing God as our Rock of Help and how FCHUM has served as the manifestation of that help over the past 30 years. In the Fall a dinner/dance event, featuring the popular group The Monarchs, will be scheduled to top off the competition of the Legacy of Serving campaign and to honor Executive Director Rev. Ron Loughry who will be retiring at the end of 2028 after 22 years of service to Fern Creek/Highview United Ministries.
In addition to its own vital ministry programs, FC/HUM works with the community-at-large through such cooperative efforts as: Winterhelp, LIHEAP, Neighborhood Place, Meals On Wheels, TRIAD, GLAIPA, Health services Professional Network, Alzheimer’s Association, Passport, Schools of Nursing, Social Work, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, the Ky Assoc. of Adult Day Centers, the Association of Community Ministries, various Advisory Committees, U. S. Congressional Senior Adult Advisory Council, Highview Fall Festival, Highview Holiday Fest, Fern Creek Women’s Club, Fern Creek Lion’s Club, Goodwill Industries, St. Vincent de Paul Societies, Fern Creek Community Association & Chamber, the Highview Business Association, Louisville Metro Dept. of Resilience & Community Services, and various other foundations, agencies and organizations