The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 22, 2012

What opportunities to step up!

United Way column

By Richard Jarrell
guest columnist

BECKLEY — Every week as I approach the opportunity and responsibility of writing these articles, I approach them with the thought in mind of how I can accomplish a few things.

One is to challenge our community to GIVE — yes, give their money. We have not hidden the fact that we are in the middle of our annual fundraising drive which has a goal of $500,000.

My second goal is to educate everyone, not just to the needs within our communities, but also to some of the solutions that do exist and could exist.

As it has to do with our fundraising goal, those dollars are what we use to fund the 32 agencies across the five counties — Raleigh, Fayette, Nicholas, Summers and Wyoming — that we serve. Agencies like Beckley Health Right that helps provide people who have challenges with things like diabetes and need help with medications or supplies for testing. Or an agency like Storm Haven which has facilities that help men and women who have been involved in drug or alcohol abuse and need a safe, encouraging place to live while they are getting their lives put back together.

Now to speak to the topic of educating everyone to the needs within our counties. This is my opportunity to challenge each of you to the fact that we don’t just need your money, but we need YOU.

You may say, “I’m not prepared to do this or that.” While I understand that thought, my bigger challenge is that we can’t save our communities without each of us!

While many people may not agree with Hillary Clinton’s politics, I think we can agree with what she said when she said, “It takes a village.” A village of people who are called to action, a village of people who care enough to be moved to step up and stand in the gaps that exist.

Just this week I met a young 17-year-old girl who has a 2-month-old. She has dropped out of school and wants to work on her GED, and to get a job to help pay for her expenses. To her I say, “I am so impressed that you have the desire to get your GED and a desire to be responsible and get a job.”

Additionally, I am so happy I was able to point her to Margaret Ann O’Neal and the United Way who will help point her to a baby pantry to get diapers and formula because she was down to her last pack of diapers.

Most of us have never gone to bed worried if our family is going to eat the next day. Or will my child have a place to sleep tomorrow night. Or where can I go to receive assistance for my parents or grandparents because they are approaching their end of lives.

That said, there is a place to go to and that is the United Way of Southern West Virginia. And the United Way can help point you where you can plug in and make a difference and the United Way can take your dollars and put them to work in our communities.

Again, I passionately challenge you to 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.