Nearly 4,000 miles from Mount Airy the Olympics are under way. Every day medals are awarded, sometimes to athletes who have tears streaming down their cheeks. Standing on the podium, listening to one’s national anthem, is for many the culmination of a life’s devotion to a single pursuit.
Such events often change an athlete’s life, sets them on an entirely different course than if they had not won their chosen event.
Yesterday the lives of who knows how many people may have been changed with the awarding of a single check from the United Fund of Surry County to the Shepherd’s House, the area’s only homeless shelter.
Actually, the check presentation was simply the culmination of several months’ effort by not only the United Fund, but many local organizations and individuals.
In May the dire financial outlook for the Shepherd’s House came to light, when officials there said, after looking at money on hand as well as promised donations, the home could operate through Aug. 15. After that, the doors may close.
That’s when the United Fund — which has become known for being proactive and showing leadership in meeting local needs — stepped forward with a promise of up to $20,000 in matching funds for any money that was raised for the organization.
Others in the community — churches, businesses and individuals — then went to work, holding fundraisers, donating from their own pockets, until not only was the $20,000 match reached, but it has been exceeded.
That this is a vital part of the Surry County community should never be doubted. Since the Shepherd’s House opened in 2003, it has served more than 1,200 people, mostly women and children who had no where else to go. It has served nearly 100,000 meals, provided more than 30,000 nights of shelter, and in many cases helped those it served not only with temporary living quarters, but with getting their lives back on track.
The Shepherd’s House has changed lives, maybe not as openly or dramatically as an Olympic medal win does for an athlete, but we would argue the changes made here, in Mount Airy, are of much greater importance, and certainly meet a need that no one else could meet.
And thanks to the United Fund and hundreds of individuals — maybe thousands — who have worked and continue to work on behalf of the organization — it will continue to offer that life-altering help.