ASHLAND, Ky. — For young professionals age 21 to 39 years old who live in Ashland, Catlettsburg, Russell or the six other cities within Boyd and Greenup counties, the Young Professionals Association has a variety of networking events and community service projects. Affiliated with Ashland Alliance, the Chamber of Commerce in Ashland YPA was formed in 2003 and has around 75 members this year.

The current president of the organization is Ryan Reames, a wealth advisor with Hilliard Lyons in Ashland. He got involved with YPA eight years ago when a high school friend was board president at the time.

“I showed up to a meeting, became a member of the board,” Reames said. “I got involved.”

YPA members meet the first Thursday of every month unless it’s a holiday. Events rotate between a happy hour, a lunch social at a restaurant, and a lunch-and-learn program at the library. Young professionals have heard speakers from River Cities Harvest and Braidy Industries, among other organizations, along with Mike Graese, the city manager of Ashland.

“Our big project is the YPA Backpack Program,” Reames said. The group gets cards from area schools by the end of June. Each card has the name of a student in need of school supplies and new clothes for the first day of school. Throughout the month of July, YPA members reach out to all the local businesses they know to get a backpack and fill it with clothes, shoes and supplies based on requirements for a particular child. The Ashland Alliance office on Winchester Avenue is the drop-off point.

“Marathon Petroleum will take an entire school,” Reames said of the corporation in Catlettsburg.