TORI J. NORRIS/THE GREENVILLE STANDARD
Over a hundred community members came together last Thursday to have dinner and learn of Ken Kilpatrick’s dream of Hope Afield.
Ken and his wife Jan have a history of working with at-risk-youth and their caregivers. They recently moved to the home of Jan’s late parents, Woodrow and Edna Butts, to have a farm that Hope Afield could operate on.
Hope Afield has a mission of using the outdoors for people to grow closer to God and provide a classroom where they can find hope, healing and purpose for a wounded spirit.
“We are working to break the cycle,” said Ken Kilpatrick. “This cycle begins with a sense of hopelessness that turns into hurt, then to anger, rage and finally violence. If we break this cycle, we can improve the lives of many in our community.”
Circuit Judge Terri Lovell has been looking for a program to support and get involved in since she took this position seven years ago.
“I have seen programs like this come and go in the community,” said Judge Lovell. “But when I heard Ken tell about Hope Afield a few months ago, I became cautiously interested. The more I have spoken with him about his vision I knew this was the one I had been looking for.”
Kilpatrick shared with those who attended the benefit dinner about his involvement with at-risk you and their caregivers.
“Until we get back to taking our youth under our wing, it is going to be difficult to make a change,” said Kilpatrick. “We must first build trust, then relationships and finally we can build a team that works together to ensure a bright future.”
According to some statistics Kilpatrick presented, 25 percent of Butler County and 29 percent of Lowndes live below poverty level.
“These numbers are evident through those who receive free and reduced lunches in Greenville,” said Kilpatrick. “76 percent of students at Greenville High, 77 percent at Greenville Middle and 84 percent of students at Greenville Elementary School receive free or reduced lunches.”
Butler County School’s new superintendent, Dr. John Strycker was in attendance, as well as the principals of several of the schools.
“I couldn’t script a program any better than Ken’s,” said Strycker. “This is a necessity in a high poverty rate area. This is a place for young people to find something that is positive and be active. It will also surround them with people to look up to and model after. God is truly at work in this community.”
Hope Afield is looking for volunteers, at risk youth and their caregivers, and funding. If you are interested in learning more about Hope Afield, please visit their website www.hopeafield.org.