The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 28, 2013

Everyone deserves to have these basic needs provided

United Way column

By Frank Wood

— The average middle-class child is read to for 1,000 to 1,500 hours before entering the first grade, but the average American growing up in poverty is read to for less than 25 hours.

And nearly two-thirds of low-income children have no books at home. That’s why programs such as those provided by the United Way of Southern West Virginia are crucial to the development of our children’s welfare.

Every young person deserves the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. But problems at home, low expectations from families and schools, poverty and poor literacy or learning skills cause countless young people to drop out of school and miss out on critical development opportunities.

The United Way believes in developing youth for the future. Regardless of their situations, all children benefit from a caring adult, leadership experiences and activities that support their well-being, health and emotional intelligence.

The United Way of Southern West Virginia supports the partners and agencies that give children a sense of belonging, help them feel safe and secure and allow them to develop life skills. When kids need extra help, United Way-supported agencies and programs are there for them, providing the backing they need to succeed in school and in life.

Many families in our region have been struggling recently to meet basic food, clothing and housing needs. Children are going to bed hungry. Parents are without jobs. Seniors must decide whether to pay for their medication or pay their utility bills.

The United Way, though, is helping individuals and families meet their basic needs and provide education, training and resources to help them become economically stable.

Specifically, the United Way and its agency partners are helping those in need to budget their resources and plan for the future.

Poverty will touch the majority of West Virginians and other Americans at some point during their lives, even if only for a few months. United Way funds partner agencies that are committed to helping families overcome the challenges of poverty by providing educational opportunities, job training and basic needs support.

We believe that everyone deserves food and a safe place to sleep. These are the main reasons people call the United Way supporters and volunteers for help. The majority of all calls are for basic needs.

Your donation, small or large, to the United Way of Southern West Virginia helps fund the area’s basic needs assistance and helps put callers in touch with agencies that can provide assistance.

With its goal of raising $525,000 this year, the United Way of Southern West Virginia — including Raleigh, Wyoming, Summers, Fayette and Nicholas counties — is dedicated to supporting 34 partner agencies that increase access to health care, provide education, and help individuals and families develop healthy behaviors.

When our children succeed, our whole community succeeds. Quality early education for at-risk children can produce amazing results. When kids are ready to learn, they are more likely to graduate from high school, join the workforce and become productive members of society.

The United Way wants every child to succeed in school and in life.

Children need more than just a building to go to each day. They need safety, quality nutrition, emotional support and more.

The United Way is committed to helping children by providing programs and services for a great start to young lives.

Important Event:

- The fifth annual Wonderland of Trees event is fast approaching and we need a few more tree sponsors. If you are not a sponsor and would like to be a sponsor, call the United Way at 304-253-2111.

E-mail alester@unitedway swv.org to get involved.

— United Way of Southern West Virginia 2013-2014 Campaign Chair Frank Wood is publisher of Beckley Newspapers.