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Steve Fisher: Next person to need help could be you

By Steve Fisher
Special to the Salisbury Post
It is Friday night and Ann and her entire family are engaging in a Rowan County Friday night tradition, high school football. Her son, Mark, is a senior middle line backer and the whole family, including Markís grandparents, are there to cheer him on. It is third and two on the 25 yard line just in front of the bleachers where Ann and her family are sitting. The quarterback turns and hands the ball to his tailback and leads him right into the gap where Mark is blitzing. The sound of the head-to-head collision between Mark and the running back could be heard all the way out in the parking lot. Both players collapsed to the ground as if they were rag dolls.
Annís heart leaped out of her chest. She stood and stared for any sign of movement on the field. As the referees waved and the coaches sprinted out to the line of scrimmage, miraculously both Mark and the running back stumbled to their feet. Ann took a huge sign of relief as she watched Mark walking towards the sideline while communicating with his coach. She leaned over to tell Markís grandmother that he appeared to be OK, but Markís grandmother did not respond to this comforting news. Her pupils were fixed and she was staring forward with a blank expression and no movement. She was having a stroke.
Fortunately, the very same members of the Rowan County Rescue Squad, who sat patiently at the end of the bleachers at every Rowan County high school football game to protect the kids on the field like Mark, are also there to protect people like Markís grandmother in the stands. In a matter of minutes, they were attending to Markís grandmother and had her in transit to Rowan Regional Medical Center. With the right timing, the right training and the right medications, Markís grandmother made a full recovery from that stroke. Without the presence of the Rowan County Rescue Squad, the outcome for Ann and her family that evening would have been very different.

Darryel is 37 years old and has two children: one in middle school and one in elementary school here in Rowan County. Darryel has worked for the same company for the last 15 years and he and his wife, Beth, own a modest but warm home in rural Rowan County.
On Wednesday morning at 8:30, a voice came over the intercom at the plant asking all employees to report to the break room. This was not a normal request, and Darryel and his co-workers proceeded slowly and anxiously toward the break room. Darryel does not remember much about the next 25 minutes except the terrifying words, ěreduction in staff.î
Next came a tidal wave of emotions ranging from anger to fear to disbelief and finally settling with the images of his two childrenís faces. Only those who have experienced that moment can understand the sense of pure hopelessness and desperation that comes with it. Will I lose my home? How will I feed and cloth my children? How will we survive?
As Darryel soon discovered, many of the United Way member agencies and its strategic partnerships are designed to help people just like Darryel. Through the United Wayís partnership with the Salisbury Community Development Corp., Darryel was able to keep his home and avoid foreclosure during a long layoff period. With the help of the Salvation Army and the YMCA, Darryel was able to provide for his family while he struggled to find a new job.

These are just a couple of examples of how the United Way is there for the citizens of Rowan County when they suddenly become one of the needy. Although you may not be in need of a United Way agency today, chances are that at some point in your life, you or someone you love will be touched in a meaningful way by a United Way agency.
The United Way provides safety nets for each and every one of us in Rowan County and provides a glimmer of hope to those less fortunate in Rowan County who canít see or even fathom that hope can exist. But the United Way is our way, as a community, of providing concrete evidence that hope and compassion does exist and that there is a path to a better tomorrow.

The United Way is in the final two weeks of its 2011-2012 Campaign, the proceeds from which go to help people like Markís grandmother, Darryelís family and all of your neighbors, friends and relatives in need right here in Rowan County. If you have not yet given to this yearís campaign, please consider a contribution because you never know when that person in need just might be you. To contact the United Way, please call 704-633-1802 or jharris@rcunitedway.org.

Steve Fisher is chairman of the 2011-2012 Rowan County United Way campaign.

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