Getting Energized by Reaching Out

I stared at the register in shock — $58 for three meals a day for five days. I’m under $4 per meal! Cha-ching. When my kids lived at home, I was easily $100 to $200 north of that.

I skipped out to the car, not caring about the summer afternoon downpour. I texted my friends to share the news. Maybe there is a silver lining in an empty nest!

I’ve recently enjoyed a week of what I’ll call “community action” on behalf of Henderson County’s children. This stuff just energizes me! The Chamber of Commerce and the Henderson County Vision Alumni Association hosted a conversation about the need for affordable housing in Henderson County.

In a nutshell, an affordable home for a family earning a median income ($42,478) in Henderson County is $158,423, or $1,024 in monthly costs. Monthly costs for housing include mortgage (or rent) plus utilities. However, the median price for a house in Henderson County is $210,000.

We have a supply problem. The city manager recently reported only about 32 homes for sale in the county listed below $200,000. And the likelihood of finding an affordable rental in Henderson County is also slim.

I’m glad to see our community concerned about this issue. The city continues to convene local leaders, nonprofits, real estate development, homeowners and renters to work on solutions.

Later in the week, the United Way convened a group of agency leaders to talk about healthy youth behaviors and the work we are doing in our community to promote protective factors for young people, like improving parent engagement, positive parenting practices and increasing connectedness between students and their schools. All of these are protective factors that help children and adolescents from engaging in behaviors that place them at risk for adverse health and education outcomes.

Representatives from seven agencies, including Henderson County Public Schools, were present. It was immediately obvious that we have a high level of collaboration among agencies and programs in serving young people.

We were able to begin identifying where gaps still exist and where funding and community support could provide needed action.  We recognized that work that began years ago, through efforts like the United Agenda for Children, were still moving forward – the priorities our community set then, are still priorities today. 

Things like increasing the number of school nurses is a commitment the County Commissioners have embraced.  The advancement of school based health centers brings new models of health and mental health access to students at their school campus.  

Great stuff is going on around here.  More stuff needs to happen.

My colleagues gathered again for a luncheon hosted by the Community Foundation of Henderson County.  Philanthropists, volunteers and providers joined together to share stories of giving and helping, to celebrate the generosity of this community, and to acknowledge that without it, great things couldn’t happen. 

 

My colleagues gathered again for a luncheon hosted by the Community Foundation of Henderson County. Philanthropists, volunteers and providers joined together to share stories of giving and helping, to celebrate the generosity of this community, and to acknowledge that without it, great things couldn’t happen.

As it’s been a month of reflection for me, I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned from being a parent:

1. Underarm hair looks like grass to a preschooler.

2. Ranch dressing and ketchup are necessary at all meals.

3. In our small town, people you know will call, text and email you to tell you they saw your child/children walking to their car after school, walking down Main Street holding hands with someone, driving slow, driving fast, eating at a restaurant — you name it. I always wondered why my mother could confidently tell me that if I did anything, she’d know before I could tell her. She was right. It’s just awesome to know there are extra eyes on your babies.

4. If you are a mother, you’ll never go to the bathroom alone. Ever.  No matter how grown up they are.  By the time they leave home, the pets have already figured out that you obviously need a great deal of support in that room, and they will join you too.  Nobody seems to go to the bathroom with dads.  I don’t understand that.
5. It’s not easy to be a good parent when you’re stressed, tired or worried about money.
6. Being a single parent is very hard.
7. Siblings fight.  Hard and dirty.  Having been an only child, I just had no idea.
8. Siblings love each other fiercely.  Having been an only child, I just had no idea.
9. Your children probably know you better than you know yourself.
10. You’ll wish you could have a do-over so you could get this parenting thing right.

Two weeks have passed since I went skipping out of the store.   I finally got the call, “Mama, will you come see me?” (Hallelujah!  It’s about time she missed me!) Hotel room, check.  Dinner out in a cool new town, check. Pedicures, check. Mother-daughter shopping spree, check. 

I actually lost money.  And, it was worth every cent!

Elisha Freeman is executive director of the Children & Family Resource Center (www.childrenandfamily.org; 828-698-0674).

http://www.blueridgenow.com/opinion/20160907/getting-energized-by-reaching-out

 

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