Editorial: Many in Rowan need helping hand

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 30, 2011

ěPoverty is a stick the world beats you with and when the world no longer uses that stick, you use it on yourself. Thereís always the shame that somehow you did something to deserve this; that somehow you brought this social disease upon yourself, some simple act and there you are … guilty.î
ó Ruth Moose
The ěhavesî of Rowan County cannot turn their backs to the growing number of ěhave nots.î
And if you have a full-time job, youíre a ěhave.î
A story in Sundayís Post shared astonishing statistics on the spread of poverty in Rowan County. Among Rowan children, one in four lives below the poverty level. In the public schools, three in five students receive free or reduced lunch.
Most tellingly, nearly half of the countyís families received government assistance through the Department of Social Services last fiscal year. Thousands may feel beaten down by the stick of poverty so aptly described in the lines above by Albemarle author Ruth Moose.
The solution has three parts: jobs, jobs and more jobs. But even if we feel powerless to speed the process of economic recovery along, we can still have an impact on othersí lives for the better.
Donate: Agencies are swamped with requests for help. For example, this year Rowan Helping Ministries expects to serve more than 70,000 prepared meals and distribute more than 285,000 pounds of groceries to some 21,000 people. Donations can come in the form of money, nonperishable food, clothing. (You can even sponsor a meal in honor or memory of someone.) While some agencies help fill childrenís stomachs, also remember the ones that help grow their minds, such as Rowan Public Library, Communities in Schools and others.
Volunteer: Some of us have nothing to give but our time, yet that can be priceless. Volunteers make a difference in peopleís lives by tutoring students through Communities in Schools, serving as life coaches at Rowan Helping Ministries, teaching people to read through the Literacy Council and otherwise lending their skills to help others improve their own skills.
Educate: ěJobs, jobs and more jobsî wonít come without a well-educated workforce and high-quality public schools. This requires public support, parental involvement, scholarship money and more.
However you choose to help others, be prepared to feel differently afterward. Kindness is known to boost serotonin, the neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well-being. Not only that, but kindness is contagious; kindness leads to more kindness. That may not lift people out of poverty, but a good supply of kindness could lift everyoneís spirits.