Although I cannot speak to the specific situation in which Acadiana C.A.R.E.S. chose not to renew its lease resulting in the relocation of its residents, I can speak to the character and compassion of Kathy Ashworth. I know her as someone committed to creating a better quality of life for all our citizens ("Homeless for the Holidays," Jan. 11).
It was because of her public service that I first met Kathy. Her reputation as a passionately dedicated community leader long preceded our meeting, and through the years I've found that reputation to be earned and wholly accurate. I've watched her inspire other business and civic leaders, rally diverse groups around visions including developing the green gateway to Lafayette, improving educational institutions, and most notably her trailblazing in social services advocating with 232-HELP/211 for successful implementation of the 211 system in Louisiana.
While she has been in Lafayette's public eye for service on the city-parish council and nonprofit boards, her true legacy has been built quietly behind the scenes as she has welcomed so many people in crisis into her life and her family, believing in them before they can believe in themselves, and selflessly giving of her time and resources ' repeatedly opening her home to people in need and employing people in recovery.
From my experiences operating transitional housing programs, property owners are few and far between who will lease to a population that is, by definition, in a period of instability in their lives. This community is fortunate to have men and women like Kathy Ashworth who take that risk.
As she is serving a role in Louisiana's rebuilding efforts working with federal and state agencies, Kathy probably will not take time or focus away to advocate for herself. True to form with her public service record, she will no doubt instead choose to spend her time advocating on behalf of displaced citizens whose futures are impacted by her current work in Baton Rouge and around the state.
I'm delighted her time and talents are engaged in helping our state draft a comprehensive vision for improved infrastructure, affordable housing, and economic development. At this intersection of crisis and opportunity it will take all of us working together to realize a brighter future.
Keller is the chief executive officer of Acadiana Outreach. ' Ed.