Serving a vulnerable population

Published 12:38 pm Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A request for a special use permit for Jan’s Residential Home on Cralle Street in Kenbridge has brought a number of residents in the area to meetings at the Kenbridge Town Council. Providing places where our elderly residents or residents with mental illness can receive care is crucial. Following the Town Council’s decision to deny the special use permit, members of the town have voiced concern that the expiration of the license to operate the facility would mean residents who depend on this care would face limited options and potentially have to relocate out of town.

During a public hearing in August residents also expressed concern, giving multiple alleged incidents about residents escaping the home, walking through residents’ yards and walking through streets late at night and early in the morning, asking residents for cigarettes and other items. Members of the town council also cited 65 violations issued by the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) of the residential home.

A litigation of the Town by the owner of the Cralle Street property, Ann Gordon, cited that Gordon was not properly notified of the need for the permit. Gordon, in a letter addressed to the Office of the Attorney General, cited discrimination against the residential owners and the residents of the home.

Kenbridge Town Manager, Robyn Fowler has confirmed that the town has extended the license for Judy Bennett, who currently owns the facility.

After hearing concerns of community members regarding the permit denial and the potential consequences toward the residents, I’ve also come to understand how important it is to have a place where vulnerable members of the population can be served that’s close to home, and the challenges of raising and maintaining funds in a small community to provide the needed care.

I wonder now if the need for the facility would enable state or town organizations to provide the assistance necessary for the residential home to serve the people who need it most while protecting those who live close to the residential home, to potentially right alleged wrongs concerning the litigations or provide resources that would allow for community members to access care outside of town.

Emily Hollingsworth is a staff writer for The Kenbridge-Victoria Dispatch. Her email address is