Renovations unveiled at Lexington youth shelter

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- Dozens of politicians and community leaders crowded around a historic Lexington home Thursday to get a first look at its renovations, but it isn’t just any home.

It’s the only emergency shelter for kids in central Kentucky.

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Every year, about 300 kids spend a night or more there.

“It is literally their crisis,” Arbor Youth Service’s Executive Director, Lori Clemons, said.

According to Clemons, Arbor welcomes kids who have run away from abusive homes, have parents who have overdosed, or have been living out of a car with their families.

“They’ve either been abused or neglected or they’re homeless and we want to give them that safe, welcoming environment,” Clemons said.

That environment was getting harder to give in an old house.

Clemons says it felt like every other week she was calling a plumber or watching the ceiling leak so, with grant money, Arbor set out to renovate.

“We kept getting bids and we realized the scope of the work way exceeded our dollars,” Clemons said.

With help from the city, and a plea in the paper, the community donated to support its kids. Now, after a ribbon cutting, people are checking out what they’ve helped create.

There is new plumbing, a new roof, handicap accessible bathrooms, and more.

“85% of what’s done you can’t see,” Sean Edwards, the contractor, said.

Some of it you can see, though. Recreating the kitchen was a big focus. Now there are all new granite counter tops, appliances, and white cabinets that help make it the clean gathering spot the shelter wanted for the kids it serves.

“By investing in this space we’re able to invest in those kids more,” Clemons said.

There is still more investing needed, but, for now, this is enough for a warm welcome home.

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Veronica Jean Seltzer joins ABC 36 as Anchor/Reporter. On most weekdays, you will see her reporting the news. VJ hails from a small horse farm outside New York City and most recently comes from South Bend, Indiana where she reported for the CBS and Fox affiliates. VJ holds a Master of Science in Journalism degree from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University. Her passion for journalism runs deep. It began as she studied graffiti as an ancient form of communication in Athens, Greece. While a student journalist in Morocco, she learned her most important journalistic lesson: good stories are about people. VJ loves life in and around Lexington. She feels most at home among horses and a diverse community of fascinating people. She enjoys reporting during the week and on the weekend she strives to bring her neighbors the news that matters most to them. VJ enjoys going to neighborhood events, exploring, horseback riding, skiing, sailing, and good movies. Look for her out and about in the community! VJ invites you to reach out to her with story ideas or just to say hello! Find her on Facebook at Veronica Jean Seltzer ABC 36, tweet her @VJS_ABC36, or email her at VSeltzer@wtvq.com. She looks forward to hearing from you!