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Monday June 26, 2017

posted by Oliver H. Barber, Jr.
Tags: Events 

Last week, on Thursday, June 8, 2017, eight people from the law firm of Barber, Banaszynski & Hiatt, including the three Senior Partners, gathered at Churchill Downs.

We were invited by the Home of the Innocents to attend a salute to Dr. Joan Thomas and Lee Thomas and a fundraiser on “Millionaires Row” at the Downs. There were 500 or so people there, all of whom were more “well heeled” than us. But we were there to salute the great work that the Home of the Innocents is doing in providing services for abandoned children and for children who have been released from hospitals who are terminal or who have serious physical problems. The Home of the Innocents has one of the very few Pediatric Convalescent Care programs in the United States. The way that works is that a child is born in a hospital and let’s say the child has spina bifida. Well, that child can stay in the hospital for a short period of time at somewhere around $500.00 a day. Then, the hospital needs to find a place for the child to live where he or she can be properly and appropriately taken care of for a whole lot less money. That’s the Home of the Innocents.

In Louisville, if there is a split-up of a family and there are two or more children in that family who are homeless, or who have no place to go; if those children have been abused or they are abandoned, the Home of the Innocents will provide care and services for them.

But, there is a back story. In 1980, three people, yours truly, Oliver H. Barber, Jr., Thomas J. Banaszynski and State Senator Danny Meyer conspired with David Graves who was the Executive Director of the Home of the Innocents to try to find a way to get the Home of the Innocents funded under state and federal law.

At issue is whether or not the Home of the Innocents was providing services to children throughout the state of Kentucky. If so, then perhaps the state administration or Cabinet for Human Resources could be convinced that those services should be funded under the Medicaid programs that were available.

The three of us, Tom, Danny and I, had worked in the campaign for Grady Stumbo who ran for Governor at that time. Grady Stumbo was defeated by John Y. Brown but as an M.D., he was appointed to become the new Secretary of the Cabinet for Human Resources.

It was in that capacity that the four of us met with Grady Stumbo at the Home of the Innocents and gave him a tour. It was a small, meek place at that time. The Home of the Innocents was then on Gray Street in downtown Louisville in two separate buildings, separated by about a block and a half. Those buildings provided services to the same population that I have been talking about, but in a much diminished capacity.

Secretary Stumbo was very impressed with the presentation that we made; the visit at the Home of the Innocents; and especially seeing and meeting the children that we were sheltering and caring for from out in the state of Kentucky.

From that day forward, the Home of the Innocents has been eligible for and received the same type of assistance that other programs in this state did and do. The Home has been able to make full use of those funds for an ever growing and needier population. The Home currently provides some 85 services to children and families.

In 1999, under guidance of CEO Gordon Brown, the Home purchased the Bourbon Stockyards in the Butchertown Neighborhood, east of downtown Louisville. That site was completely redeveloped, and has served as the headquarters of the Home since 2003. Gordon Brown served as CEO of the Home for some 22+ years, until his retirement in 2016.

So, it was with great pride that Tom and I watched the events that took place last Thursday, on June 8th, and think back lo these many years to 1980 when he and I and our friend Danny Meyer were able to find a way to assist the Home of the Innocents to grow and reach Millionaires Row at Churchill Downs.