The woman who heads the agency that serves as the hub for social services in Ashland and Boyd County is stepping down.
Trish Hall is retiring as the executive director of Community Assistance and Referral Service Inc., a position she has held since 2008.
Hall said last week that she would be leaving the agency “sometime in January,” and that her departure date would depend on when the board of directors names her replacement. She said the search for her successor had gotten “bogged down” because of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season.
Hall, 68, said her decision to retire was motivated by a desire to spend more time with her children and grandchildren, who live in Lexington and in the Atlanta area.
“I also feel really good about where CAReS is right now,” she said. “It just seemed like a good time to pass the torch.”
CAReS was formed in 1999 to serve as a social services clearinghouse with a mission of matching up needy individuals in the community with available aid. The agency was designated the local hub for social services by the City of Ashland Ten Year Plan to Minimize Homelessness.
Clients in need of services are referred by partner agencies and churches to CAReS. Case managers provide initial counseling and enter all client information into a statewide database, Homeless Information Management Service. This system, which is operated by Kentucky Housing Corp., allows case managers to track services received, and to prevent duplications and “double-dipping.”
CAReS provides help with utilities or rent once a year, and emergency medications every 90 days, as funds are available. The agency also can provide emergency food, personal care Items, diapers and baby supplies as these items are donated. Clients may return to CAReS for ongoing case management, budget counseling and other services.
Clients are referred for additional services to CAReS’ partner agencies, which include Safe Harbor, the Salvation Army and Shelter of Hope.
CAReS is perhaps best known for overseeing the Giving Tree program, which provides assistance to needy families at Christmas. This year, the agency distributed toys and clothing for more than 600 youngsters.
Hall said when she first joined CAReS, she was told “that when CAReS needs something, the Lord seems to provide it for us.” More often than not, that proved to be true during her tenure, she said.
Such was the case this year with the Giving Tree, she said. With donations down, Hall put out a plea for help. Volunteers stepped forward, as did some major donors, including $5,000 from King’s Daughters Medical Center and $10,000 from the Jingle Bell Ball Charity.
“We get a lot of attention at Christmas time, but we have a lot of people who support us throughout the year, too,” Hall said.
Asked what she considered her proudest achievement at CAReS, Hall said she couldn’t point to anything specific, and that was reluctant to take sole credit for anything the agency has accomplished under her leadership.
“I’m just really proud of the support we’ve been able to get,” she said.
CAReS’ overall goal is to help its clients achieve self-sufficiency, and Hall said it’s always extremely rewarding when that happens, especially when those who have gotten help from the agency come back to help out themselves to show their appreciation.
“Every success story is an uplift to everyone in the office,” she said.
CAReS has seen a sharp increase in demand for its services since Hall came aboard. She said she doesn’t see that easing up in the near future “because I don’t see this area’s economy changing anytime soon.”
Prior to joining CAReS, Hall served as executive director for the Arts Council of Northeast Kentucky for 10 years. She also chairs the Ashland Board of Education, and is its longest-serving member, with 20 years in office.