Ginny Ramsey, director and co-founder of the Catholic Action Center, has been named as the grand marshal of the 39th annual Alltech Lexington St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Since 1999, Ramsey has led the Center, an all-volunteer organization that serves those experiencing homelessness.
“It has been my honor and blessing to be a part of this ministry and see daily the goodness and compassion of our community,” Ramsey said. “I am delighted and honored to be selected as grand marshal and our Catholic Action Center community is excited to participate in this ‘Go Green’ day.”
“The work done by Ginny Ramsey and the Catholic Action Center to create a place where dignity, relationships and connections can become the path from the streets to a home for so many is remarkable,” said Bill Enright, parade chair and president of the Bluegrass Irish Society. “Ginny Ramsey is a wonderful example of someone who lives each day the principles we admire.”
Ramsey was born in Frankfort, one of seven siblings raised by an Irish mother and German father. She worked as an accountant for 29 years until, as she says, her “heart was drawn to the plight of the ‘invisible and disconnected’ brothers and sisters of the streets.” In 1995, Ramsey was asked by Lexington mayor Pam Miller to form the Faith and Community Task Force on Welfare Reform, which brought community members together to address the gaps and changes in services for those living in poverty.
Ramsey says her experience with the task force demonstrated that the community could lessen the suffering and isolation of those in need. “The hands and hearts were there to make this happen,” Ramsey said. “We had an obligation to respond.”
Since its inception, an all-volunteer corps of individuals has supported the Catholic Action Center. More than 12,000 volunteers each year have provided over 5.8 million meals and 850,000 room nights of shelter, along with clothing, laundry, mail service and phone service to those without permanent housing -- all with no government funding, but instead the support of the community and community volunteers.
The Lexington Division of Parks and Recreation produces the annual St. Patrick’s parade and festival with community support from local businesses and cultural organizations. The events are part of an all-day celebration on March 17 that begins at 8 a.m. with the 12th annual Shamrock Shuffle to benefit Lexington Habitat for Humanity.
The Irish festival kicks off at the Robert F. Stephen Courthouse with the annual “Blessing of the Keg” at the Alltech tents on the courthouse plaza at 10:45 a.m. Local Irish musicians, dancers and pipe bands keep the entertainment going all day.
The annual parade, with Ramsey as grand marshal, begins at 1 p.m. and goes down Main Street from Midland Avenue to Mill Street. The parade is the longest running citywide civic event in Lexington.
Follow @LexStPatsParade on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for information, event updates and day of coverage. Parade participants and attendees are encouraged to share their photos online, tag @LexStPatsParade and use #LexStPats2018.