‘United’ kind of self-help

  • Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2013 12:58 a.m.
    UPDATED: Sunday, September 15, 2013 3:10 p.m.

The people of Rowan County don’t always have to wait on Congress, the General Assembly or the Board of Commissioners to help local schools and human-service agencies.

We can help ourselves.

Evidence of that was seen last Thursday when thousands of United Way volunteers fanned out across the county to tackle hands-on projects at schools and other non-profits. The volunteers planted shrubs, built picnic shelters and a “gaga” pit (if you have to ask what that is, read Friday’s Post), painted walls and otherwise spiffed up schools and agencies that dare not spend precious funds hiring out work if they can help it.

What dollar value would you put on 600 volunteers working at 54 sites? Priceless.

That would not happen without the coordination of the Rowan County United Way, whose annual Day of Caring has become a tradition of giving in this community.

So has the United Way’s fundraising campaign, led here this year by Jim Duncan. After raising just over $1.8 million last year, the campaign kicked off early this month with a goal of $1.825 million. Duncan has wisely chosen to focus this year on raising awareness of how the organization works. “I felt people did not know what the 15 agencies were, and that we’re local. That money raised here stays here,” he recently said.

The 15 agencies touch thousands of lives in Rowan County each day. For example, in one year:

• The local American Red Cross helped 143 families facing disaster situations.

• Family Crisis Council provided 4,399 days of shelter for abused women and their children.

• Rowan Literacy Council volunteers provided 3,873 hours of tutoring to individuals who wanted to improve their reading and language skills.

• The Salvation Army office in Salisbury provided food, rent, utility help, medication and clothes to 12,598 people.

In addition to those four agencies, other member agencies are The Arc/Rowan, Vocational Opportunities, Communities in Schools, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Youth Services Bureau, YMCA, Abundant Living Adult Day Services, Rufty-Holmes Senior Center, Meals on Wheels and Families First.

One simple gift to United Way can help all these agencies. Exercise that power by donating directly through www.rowanunitedway.org or by payroll deduction or check at work. Remember, what’s raised here stays here.

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