Five years ago, Randy Lanham brought a fresh idea to local television when he began telling the behind-the-scenes stories of nonprofit organizations. The mission was two-fold, the show would encourage people to become volunteers in their community and the stories told would shed some light into all the work that goes into these organizations. As a result, this increased awareness led to others to getting involved locally.
“It was so much fun, doing it on the local channel, learning about the organizations and what they do,” Lanham said.
What started as Volunteer Owensboro became VolunTour Kentucky when the show was picked up by KET last year. While it was good to showcase local nonprofits in Owensboro, Lanham said traveling around the state offered an even greater insight into the needs of Kentucky.
During season one, twelve episodes aired, highlighting a tour of non-profit organizations across the state. The episodes can be viewed every Monday at 9:00 p.m. and Wednesday at 5:00 p.m., with the same episode playing both days each week.
From the Knottsville Volunteer Fire Department to the Ohio County Food Pantry, to a Morgantown Soup Kitchen, Lanham made his way to outreaches that many local residents knew very little or nothing about.
According to Lanham, one particularly impactful episode showcased the Exit Zero Homeless Outreach in Louisville, Ky.
Eventually, a national pitch to PBS stations outside Kentucky would lead to even more travel for Lanham, who is an independent producer. Lanham’s team includes Wayne Morris, Brian Snyder and Teresa Rowe. His goal is to continually improve the quality and filming of the show by bumping up the production level a bit more. The demands have increased as well, with the show venturing hundreds of miles away.
“Lately, I’ve been traveling more,” Lanham said.
The opportunity to travel more will expand in the coming months because VolunTour Kentucky has been signed for a second season.
Lanham will be heading to an Indian Summer Oncology Camp in Perryville, Ky. in July. This camp, put on by the Kids Cancer Alliance, offers a chance for children who have cancer and their siblings to experience a summer retreat with activities including archery, arts and crafts, fishing and rock wall climbing. This will become one of the episodes featured in season two.
Lanham views the show as much more than entertainment for television and sees it as more of a ministry. He said the people who have been watching these shows have offered him the best compliment that he could receive by coming to him and saying they had no idea that the particular organization existed.
According to the mission he has set forth of spreading the word about nonprofits, it’s working.
“It’s not just entertainment — we work with real volunteers, we get their story,” Lanham said.
As for the influence of this outreach, Lanham is pleased. Nearly five hundred local high school students joined together in volunteer work last month. Moving forward, the show may shift to a new name again, Project Volunteer, a nationwide movement that will spread the influence of getting involved with nonprofit work across the country.
“God gave me this idea — he’s opened all these doors,” Lanham said.
For more information, or to view past episodes of the show, visit https://www.ket.org/series/KVOLT/