The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 15, 2012

Let's all dream for a minute

United Way column

By Richard Jarrell
guest columnist

BECKLEY — If we were to stop for just a minute and dream about our community, I think many of our dreams would be very similar. We would dream for a community that would be free of many of the challenges that we see every day. Challenges like children that are part of a family that don’t have somewhere to call home. Children that are being raised by parents who have lost their jobs or, even worse, being raised by parents who are on drugs.

And as we all have seen happen much too often, children that are being raised by their grandparents or other members of their extended family.

We would dream of a community where we don’t see young girls as young as middle school having babies.

Or what about children who aren’t getting enough to eat at home? Just this week I was talking to one of our local teachers and he was talking about one of his students who had been coming by his room asking if he had any candy. And do you know why she was asking? Because she had gotten into a fight with her single father and she left the house and hadn’t been eating anything other than school meals. True story!

The stories and examples of people in need of the most basic human needs in our communities are staggering and even more, they are just heart-breaking. And as you may guess, we could fill this entire page with story after story.

So how can I make an impact?

This is the question that I often get from people who know I’m associated with the work of the United Way of Southern West Virginia. The answer is your time, your talent and your treasures.

Your time and talent can be used by volunteering at one of our 32 agencies. They may need help in the office doing routine things or answering the phone. Or you may be able to help them network with others that you know that can help them in a very specific way.

When it comes to treasures, I’m talking about our money. And you don’t have to have huge resources to make an impact. Let me give you some examples of what just a few dollars can do for those in need.

For $50, YOU can fund the purchase of five boxes of diapers for a Baby Pantry. Or YOU can help five girls have a Girl Scout experience. Or YOU can help purchase groceries for a family of four for one week in a local shelter.

I emphasize YOU, because it is YOU who is making those things happen! And it only takes less than a dollar a week. That’s not even giving up a cup of coffee or soft drink a week!

So here’s the deal.

My challenge to those who aren’t already participating in a workplace campaign but who want to make a difference and make someone else’s dreams come true, is to sit down and write a $25 or $50 check today. Don’t wait and say I’ll do it later — do it NOW!

We all live in communities that are hurting and have needs and I challenge you to be a partner with the United Way of Southern West Virginia today.

Mail your check to the United Way of Southern West Virginia, P.O. Box 5456, Beckley, WV 25802.

And remember, “You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.” So let’s Live and Give United!

— United Way of Southern West Virginia 2012-2013 Campaign chair Richard Jarrell owns the two Chick-fil-A franchises in Beckley and is a member of the Raleigh County Board of Education.