‘We are trying to help out in any way possible’: New ONE Lexington member talks about organization’s mission

Kenneth Payne is the Community Outreach Advocate for ONE Lexington. He’s been on the job for a month.
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 5:53 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - ONE Lexington’s mission is to bring city government and community resources together to reduce gun violence among youth and young adults.

Kenneth Payne is the Community Outreach Advocate for ONE Lexington. He’s been on the job for a month.

Payne and other ONE Lexington team members can be found going door to door in different neighborhoods spreading the word about resources the city offers to counter the stressors of gun violence.

“A lot of our efforts currently are helping the immediate needs while we are working to help with the prevention piece of it,” said Payne.

Two weeks ago, around midnight, two houses and one unoccupied car in Waxing Way were hit by gunshots, according to Lexington Police. This is when the engagement team steps in.

“What we are finding out is that the community is experiencing the trauma too because they are hearing the gunshots, they are seeing what’s going on, so they are experiencing the trauma as well,” said Payne. “Who’s suffering from the mental health, the shooter or the one receiving the bullet or both? Both may belief my opinion, both are.”

So to help in these instances, the engagement team may show up with groceries from the non-profit Black Soil to offset food insecurities, along with other resources to alleviate outside stressors.

“Maybe the person that did get shot, maybe they are the ones that’s financially taking care of the bills,” said Payne. “So maybe the family needs that so we can help with some of the bills. Maybe they don’t feel safe in that home right now, so they need temporary housing. We can help with that as well.”

Payne is hearing from the community.

“They feel that these kids really need some things to do. They have a lot of idle time, so it’s probably the cause of them getting into these types of activities,” said Payne.

Sometimes a caring, friendly, familiar face is all people need, and to know help from gun violence is not far away.

“We are just trying to push that message out that we are here to help out in any way possible,” said Payne.

Payne says ONE Lexington has been in at least a half dozen neighborhoods and has mentors throughout the Fayette County School District.

They say the hope is to get to the kids at a young age to curb future gun violence.