SOMERSET, KY – Three training sessions in, and SKED’s project REEL KY is making a difference in the lives of Eastern Kentucky men and women when and where they need it most.
The innovative partnership, called Recovery & Entrepreneurship Elevating Lives (REEL) KY, is an ongoing project aimed at giving recovery center residents across the region an opportunity to acquire entrepreneurial skills during treatment that will provide them with an edge on a new life post-recovery.
REEL KY partners include two other nonprofits: Fletcher Group and Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP). Fletcher Group oversees the centers’ coordination. EKCEP provides funding for the project, and SKED is presenting the training.
To date, 82 people have participated in the training. Fifty-seven have graduated, and another 25 are currently in training. Project partners plan to reach as many folks as possible, as funding allows.
The participants themselves best describe the success of the project. Here’s what some have to say:
“Exactly what I needed to fulfill my dreams.” “For the first time, I feel like I can succeed in life.” “I’m a better asset to the community, thanks to this program,” and “It helped me step outside my comfort zone and grow in ways I couldn’t have otherwise.”
Meaningful employment is a crucial goal of the “recovery ecosystem” model promoted by the Fletcher Group Rural Center of Excellence, according to the London, Ky.-based organization’s Director of Employment Services, Lori Baier. Activities are divided into on-the-job training, more traditional vocational education programs, and entrepreneurial training.
“REEL KY is a good example of the latter,” Baier said. “So far, it’s helped rural residents in five Eastern Kentucky recovery centers find a new sense of worth and purpose by providing them with the skills they need to start their own businesses. There’s an abundance of talent within the recovery community, and gaining new entrepreneurial skills has let that talent shine.”
SKED Small Business Training Director Amanda Kelly provides the four-week online training directly to the recovery centers via Zoom call. During the training, six teams from five recovery centers develop original business plans and then pitch them to a panel of judges who provide feedback and encouragement.
“REEL KY encourages participants to believe in themselves and their possibilities,” Kelly said. “I want the participants to walk out of this program knowing that if owning a business is their dream, they can accomplish it. Our goal is to give them the information, experience, and support needed to realize their dream. Recovery is about changing the future; REEL KY is about creating another avenue to that future.”
The recovery centers participating in the training include Hickory Hills, located in Emmalena, Ky.; Cumberland Hope in Evarts, Ky.; Skyhope in Somerset, Ky.; Liberty Place in Richmond, Ky., and Genesis, located in Grayson, Ky.
Baier says the training creates an atmosphere of excitement at the centers.
“By exploring opportunities, setting goals, and making plans, they learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur and small business owner,” she said. “It gives them something to be excited about and feel proud of and allows them to give back to their residences by sharing their profits.”
She encourages other recovery centers looking to replicate the training program to contact the economic development organizations, workforce boards, and small business development centers or community colleges in their areas.
For more information about REEL KY, contact Amanda Kelly at email@example.com or (606) 416-2008.
To learn more about how SKED helps small business owners do business better, visit www.skedcorp.com.