"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me ...."
The Holy Bible, New International Version, Matthew 25:35-36
“And no cure there but to wait it out ....”
Leaving Early - Leanne O’Sullivan
One of the things that truly makes Roanoke a special place is how people here come together to help those in need. This most recent period of anxiety and uncertainty has been no different—once again, Roanoke shows its compassion for others. Almost from the beginning of this health emergency, individuals, organizations, and institutions have stepped up to offer help. In this post I will highlight just a few, while acknowledging there are many more at work.
Getting Funds to Those Who Are Helping Others
With a mission of elevating 10,000 families out of poverty by 2030, United Way of Roanoke Valley already has a daunting task before it. Now those same families’ struggles have become even greater. United Way brings partners together to comprehensively address the needs of individuals and families. So as COVID-19 descended upon our community, it only made sense United Way would rally the community to support those same partners as they respond to the Coronavirus. The COVID19 Community Response Fund supports the work of nonprofits providing direct services to families in the area including access to food and supplies, healthcare, childcare, housing, utilities, employment, and transportation. After just a couple of weeks, the fund has raised nearly $60,000, which will help expand the capacity of the organizations delivering these vital services. I am honored to serve on the Board of United Way of Roanoke Valley and celebrate the ongoing support City employees provide United Way. I encourage you to consider providing financial support to this organization or any of their partners so they may continue this valuable work.
Access to healthy food has long been a challenge in our community. This is especially true with area youth, and became an even greater concern as schools were closed. Almost immediately after the Governor announced the closure of schools, area school divisions put into action plans they had devised using school buses, volunteers, and collection points to ensure children have access to healthy food, even while they continued their studies at home. Very quickly, these efforts were complemented by similar efforts organized by Feeding America Southwest Virginia, Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Virginia, and LEAP. These organizations offer food collection points, food delivery, and a myriad of other benefits for those in need of fresh and healthy food while we shelter in place. Again, if you are able, I encourage you to financially support these incredible efforts.
Sheltering Those Without Homes
For most residents of Roanoke, if they find themselves advised by a healthcare provider to self-isolate, they return to their home. However, hundreds of people in our community have no home to return to. Individuals who are homeless find themselves in an especially vulnerable position, as the shelters they traditionally turn to are unable to safely house them during periods of self-isolation. Recently, the City was called upon to help in one such case, where an individual who was currently homeless needed to self-isolate while awaiting test results. With the assistance of the Rescue Mission, TAP, ARCH, and others, our Emergency Management folks and Homeless Assistance Team were able to safely house and feed this individual, who later learned they had tested negative for COVID19. With the assistance of this same team and Trust House, a better interim solution has been secured with work continuing on a larger-scale solution, should the need arise.
These are but a few examples of the great work going on in our community, among the many who help take care of those most in need. The Star City continues to shine best as we all work together to help one another.
— Bob Cowell