During the Knox UNITE meeting Tuesday, I learned our Family Resource and Youth Service Centers serve 5,000 students in our county. But guess what? The county’s “resource” centers don’t have the “resources” to do their job. Some literally have a zero budget. And now, as a group they are getting another state funding cut. Overall, they are already $30,000 in the red!
That’s right, if our local resource center directors relied only on state-provided funding, the centers would all be bankrupt. But these dedicated, hard-working center directors all band together, work hard and share resources. They get some financial help from the local school boards. They “beg, borrow, but don’t steal,” to meet children’s needs. Many work above and beyond the time they are paid, and nearly all still have to also work a second job to pay their own bills. Why do this? Their answer was, “To help our children break through whatever barrier keeps them from learning.” They are committed to helping our community improve. It was inspiring to listen to them tell their story.
Obviously, Knox is, financially speaking, a poor, rural county in the poorest section of the state. But, listening to this group’s presentation reminded me that in spite of our poverty, many of our citizens are “investing heavily” in our community. That investment – of self, time, money and resources – will generate the “return” required to distinguish us. It will make, and keep ours a vibrant community.
In vibrant communities people are welcomed, involved, and from individual citizens to corporations, willing to help each other. Don’t we all want to live in a place like that?
On the other hand, “bankrupt communities” may have all nice homes, nice cars – or be trailer parks in the head of a hollow. The real difference is, “bankrupt communities” are filled with self-centered people who care nothing about their neighbors. They don’t volunteer and won’t invest time or money locally.
What type of community are we? Well, have you made any “investments” in our community recently? I know our school resource centers would appreciate some help. And, I think other groups here would too. Is Knox vibrant, or bankrupt? What do you think?