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Hope Afield farm bears fruit at spring benefit dinner

By the sweat of their collective brow, Ken and Jan Kilpatrick have transformed a plot of land into a flourishing farm.

But as Thursday evening demonstrated, the fruit that was borne of their efforts thus far extend well beyond the typical fare.

Hope Afield at Blessings Farm, a local nonprofit organization that aims to bring hope, healing and purpose via the great outdoors to at-risk youth and their caregivers, held its spring benefit dinner at LBW’s Wendell Mitchell Conference Center.

Hope Afield CEO and founder Ken Kilpatrick previously spent more than two decades helping at-risk youth in the Montgomery area via his previous program, Compassion 21.

Both that program and Hope Afield aims to break the cycle of hopelessness—which he made a clear distinction from helplessness.

“The home has been fractured,” Kilpatrick said. “There isn’t always a mom or a dad in the home, and kids are paying the price.”

Kilpatrick went on to say that the past several months of work at Hope Afield has clearly illustrated the strength of character in Butler County’s youth and young adults, including many volunteers and family members who have made an impact on the program.

As a number of them took the stage Thursday, it was revealed that Hope Afield has made just as large of an impact in their own lives.

Jada, an LBW student and a Wintzell’s employee who also volunteers at Hope Afield, was the first to speak about how much she’s received in turn from the organization.

“Hope Afield means a lot to me because it lets me be me,” she said. “When I first started, I didn’t have hope because I was dealing with family problems. But going there really gave hope to continue.”

Kindal, another LBW student who also works at Mo’s Jo and Espresso, expressed similar thoughts.

“Hope Afield is the best name they could possibly have for it because it gives kids hope and confidence when they come out there,” Kindal added. “I’m not the most confident person ever, but it’s given me a lot of confidence, and being able to help others has boosted my own life.

“Hope Afield has so much potential, and it’s openness reminds me of Mr. Ken and Mrs. Jan–they always have open arms and they always want to talk to people and help as much as possible.”

Perhaps the most affecting testimony came from a woman named Jessica, who has spent several weekends at Hope Afield for the past seven months.

“Last July, my boys and I moved up here after they lost their dad the year before,” she said “It got pretty hard.  I didn’t know anybody here, so we had no one to turn to. I had no one to help them. We were having some issues with not wanting to talk to people and not wanting to do what they were supposed to do.”

That’s when she got in contact with Butler County sheriff Kenny Harden, who referred them to Hope Afield.

“I met Mr. Ken, and we started going out to Hope Afield every week, and the boys have learned to care for animals, to care for other people and to accept people,” she continued.

“Mr. Ken and Mrs. Jan have not only been a blessing to my boys; they’ve been a lifesaver for me, as well. I’ve been cornered and not knowing what to do, especially not having their dad to turn to, and I pick up the phone and they’ve always been right there.  If they don’t have the answer, they help me find it.  And hopefully, we’ll be going for a long, long time.”

Kilpatrick’s parting words to the audience outlined Hope Afield’s goals, as well as their needs for the foreseeable future. 

Qualified volunteers, referrals and funding are still the organization’s biggest priority, he said, noting that the farm has become established enough to take on more children.

Those interested in donating contact Kilpatrick at 334-546-1817, visit hopeafield.org or check out the Hope Afield Facebook page for more information.