United Way: When going gets tough, tough get giving
By Steve Fisher
For the Salisbury Post
Grace is 87 years old with piercing green eyes, a quick wit and a smile that can light up any room. Most days, the world is deprived of that engaging smile and quick wit because Grace is homebound. The only room she gets to light up is her own small living room.
But, most days around 1:30 p.m., Grace gets to do just that. You see, 1:30 p.m. is when her friend Jessie stops in to share a meal, a few quick laughs and the news of the day. That visit is the highlight of Grace’s day. It is also the only meal Grace will have that day. Grace’s friend Jessie is a volunteer for Meals on Wheels, and without Jessie, Grace would go hungry. Without Jessie, Grace’s smile and contagious laugh would go unseen and unheard. Grace and Jessie are friends, and their companionship goes way beyond the meal they share and the value of their friendship way beyond the nutrition the meal provides.
Jacob is 10 years old. He is sitting alone in a hospital waiting room starring at a 24-hour news channel and wiping tears away from his eyes. Jacob is scared, plain and simple. He is scared for his mother who has been badly beaten in a vicious attack and scared for his father who also happens to be her attacker. This is the third time Jacob has been to this particular hospital and this particular waiting room and he is terrified of what will become of him and his family.
Suddenly, the door to the waiting room opens and in walks Eleanor and Tonya, volunteers from the Family Crisis Council. Tonya goes immediately to help Jacob’s mother and Eleanor comes to comfort Jacob. She offers him something to drink and reassures him that his mother will be OK. Once Jacob’s mother is released, Eleanor takes them to a safe place. A place where domestic violence does not exist. A place where Jacob and his mother can heal, both physically and emotionally. A place where Jacob and his mother can find a new start and create a new life without fear.
Grace and Jacob are just two of the thousands of Rowan County residents whose lives are touched deeply each year by Rowan County United Way agencies. Each of the 16 member agencies under the United Way banner provides vital human services to people just like you and me who have found themselves in tough situations. As much as each of us would like to, it is impossible to create the time each day to visit Grace and get caught up in one of her stories or be there for Jacob when violence pierces the innocence of his childhood. But through the United Way, we can all be there for Jacob and Grace each and every day.
It’s simple. Dedicate two hours a month out of your workday to Jacob and Grace and the thousands of other Rowan County citizens who need your help. You don’t have to leave the office, you don’t have to ask your supervisor for time off, and you don’t have to use your weekends. Simply dedicate those two hours per month through payroll deduction and make sure someone is here to hold Jacob’s hand and to share a meal with Grace.
In these tough economic times, the needs in our community are greater than ever. So as United Way embarks on its 2011 Campaign, your involvement is more important than ever. The campaign runs from Sept. 2 to Nov. 16, and we need your help to make sure that our friends, neighbors and families here in Rowan County are taken care of. To give, simply ask your employer or Human Resources Director. Or call the Rowan County United Way at 704-633-1802 or visit us online at rowanunitedway.org.
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Steve Fisher is the 2011-12 campaign chairman for the Rowan County United Way.