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R.E.A.C.H. Franklin, KY (Racial Equality through Action and Community Help), a local non-profit organization is working to bring the community together by identifying needs within Simpson County. The group’s first action is to improve Lincoln Park.

“There are going to be multiple projects so, once we get this one done, there will be another community project,” R.E.A.C.H. Franklin, KY Co-Secretary Lisa Deavers said.

Deavers said Franklin-Simpson Parks and Recreation approved for the non-profit to handle the improvements, which means they will be raising funds to cover the costs.

Fundraising for the Lincoln Park project is happening in segments. The organization is currently raising funds for the master plan. Thus far, enough money has been raised to start phase 1, and fundraising is currently taking place for the next two phases.

The current fundraiser kicked off on Feb. 1 and continues through Feb. 15. Board members are selling varieties of Butter Braid pastries. Those interested in placing orders can contact the organization by visiting the R.E.A.C.H. Franklin KY Facebook page.

“Once we get [the additional funding] and the components of what’s going into the park, then we’ll start doing fundraisers where we say, ‘OK we are doing trail build, we’re looking for sponsors to help fund this,’ and there will also be volunteer opportunities for the community to come in because we do want this to be a community creation,” Deavers said.

They have a contractor with Lose Designs in Nashville, Tennessee who is working on a master plan. The preliminary plan includes a walking trail, shelter areas, landscaping, benches, and a small amphitheater for gatherings. The plan may include another playground facility — possibly a sensory playground to stimulate the seven senses — to compliment the existing area.

“Since R.E.A.C.H. stands for Racial Equality through Action and Community Helping, if we do a sensory part of the park, it would help us to reach that hard to reach population — children who have autism or children who have special needs and give the parents something to look forward to as well because it’s really hard to find that in Simpson County right now,” R.E.A.C.H. Franklin, KY Director Jane Lewis said.

While the organization is spearheading development efforts, the Lincoln Park Project does belong to Franklin-Simpson Parks and Recreation, R.E.A.C.H. Franklin, KY President Nancy Uhls said. R.E.A.C.H. Franklin KY members approached the parks and recreation board and asked permission to do the fundraising for Lincoln Park development and they approved. Once the project is completed, Franklin-Simpson Parks and Recreation has ownership to maintain the area.

“We want to have transparent outcomes for all people. That’s part of our mission statement we want to be inclusive, we want to be transparent and we don’t want to leave anyone out,” Uhls said. “With the playground already being on the other side of the street, a sensory playground really does make more sense.”

Uhls said the idea for R.E.A.C.H. was birthed out of the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, 2020.

“This is an organization that is going to be very fluid and we’re going to be moving around the community, identifying areas that need attention,” Uhls said. “I would like to decrease the gap of systemic racism — the separation is very visible and we need to figure out a way to bring the community together, everybody in the community.”

Lewis said when Uhls approached her about the idea of forming the organization, she was adamant that the vision was to bind the community together and achieve equality.

Lewis added that the non-profit’s mission was met with some doubt.

“It all depends on who you are talking to. We have found that people who have been hurt mostly by systemic racism are doubtful that this can be achieved. But people who have not necessarily experienced that systemic racism are like, ‘Yes, let’s do this, this is awesome, this is great.’ But when we come to the table and plan our next thing, and we have people who are doubtful, we want to bring those people in as well.”

Deavers said she has previously worked with Uhls and Lewis and asked to be involved when she heard about the inception of the organization.

“I’ve been very fortunate that I know how we can all contribute to this community to make it a better community,” Deavers said.

The organization also includes members vice president Derfra Holt, treasurer Quentin Lineberry and co-secretary Mandi Lineberry.

For more information or to contact R.E.A.C.H. Franklin KY, visit the non-profits Face book page or website http://REACHFranklinKY.com

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