The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

September 17, 2012

Laughter can help people who are not laughing themselves

United Way column

By Richard Jarrell
guest columnist

BECKLEY — As I write you the second installment of my weekly articles about the United Way of Southern West Virginia, I want to tell you about an actual snapshot of time for this great organization.

While we have all been excited about our big event that went off last Friday that made thousands and thousands of dollars that will go to our 32 local agencies — “Dancing With the Stars” — the laughing and smiling as planning and details were being finalized came to a screeching halt in the office as a poor lady who had been abused by her husband came through the doors looking for help. What type of help can she expect? That’s a great question!

The help that the United Way of Southern West Virginia can give and did was to help connect her with an agency that is perfectly suited to deal with her specific needs. In this case, the Women’s Resource Center.

Did you know these facts about our local Women’s Resource Center? It served 2,872 adult and 577 child victims in 2011, while providing 5,096 nights of shelter. They provided 217 public awareness programs to a total of 17,281 individuals.

I don’t know about you, but those statistics are staggering to me! Who knew there are so many incidents of mistreatment to women and innocent children by men right here in our area?

When the music has faded and the lights have long gone out, the United Way is working to meet these needs. It scares me to think of what this woman would have done without somewhere to go, someone to talk to and possibly somewhere to stay. And where did she turn first? The United Way of Southern West Virginia. And without events like last week’s “Dancing With The Stars,” we cannot touch so many lives in our community!

I am writing this article to you before the actual “Dancing With The Stars” event has occurred on Friday night, so we don’t know the actual dollars given. But we already do know that over 560 tickets were sold! What an amazing event, especially for its first year. Next week, I will give you all the details and we will celebrate together!

As always, I urge you to “GIVE AND LIVE 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.