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2018-12-19

A Gift in Winter

By Dr. Al Roberts

Twentieth century British poet Edith Sitwell wrote, “Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”

I enjoy many of winter’s simple pleasures, including the beauty of snowflakes and moonlight, traditional feasts and gift-giving, and hot cocoa with warm conversations. Warding off winter’s chill by bundling up in a snug, woolen coat contributes to an overall sense of serenity and comfort.

But winter can also be a time when harsh conditions lead to hardship. Emergencies multiply. Their effects compound.

According to an analysis by the United Way’s ALICE Project, 39% of Virginia’s households were either living below the federal poverty level or identified as Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE). The ALICE designation describes working families with incomes above the poverty level but still less than required for basic living costs, such as housing, food, child and health care, and transportation.  Within SVCC’s service region, the number of households at or below the ALICE or poverty level ranges from 49% to 60%, much larger percentage than the statewide averages.

Income at ALICE and poverty levels supports only a modest lifestyle. It leaves no room for savings, so families are often left vulnerable to emergencies and unexpected expenses.  A surprisingly high heating bill, a car that won’t start, or a doctor’s visit can threaten to topple plans and cast the future into darkness.

Several factors contribute, including low regional pay scales and increases in the basic cost of living that outpace wage growth. Education is a documented solution. Career and technical certifications and associate-degree programs provide rapid access to well-paying jobs and pathways to family-sustaining careers.

Pursuing educational goals, however, can temporarily stress finances. On the road to better pay and professional security, students encounter such expenses as tuition, books, technology, and transportation that can strain limited budgets. Illustrating this concern, recent studies have found that 13% to 21% of community college students experience food insecurity, yet college students are often ineligible for federal food assistance programs. In light of this need, SVCC has established food pantries at locations across its service area.

Additionally, to help students facing food emergencies and other crises, the Southside Virginia Community College Foundation administers funds that help meet urgent needs so that students can remain on track to reach their education goals. These opportunities are made possible through the generous contributions of people who understand the importance of helping students succeed. If you would like to join them and make a gift that will usher in a brighter future for hard-working students with unexpected challenges, contact the SVCC Foundation office at 434-949-1051.

Dr. Al Roberts is president of Southside Virginia Community College, an institution of higher learning that provides a wide variety of education opportunities to a diverse student population within a service area that spans ten counties and the city of Emporia. He can be reached via email at al.roberts@southside.edu.

The Holidays and Alzheimer’s: Tips to Help Families Navigate Challenges this Holiday Season

Holiday celebrations are often joyous occasions that families look forward to all year, but they can be challenging for the millions of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s disease affects an estimated 5.7 million people in the U.S., and more than nearly 16 million people care for someone with the disease.

“The hustle and bustle that accompanies the holidays can be stressful for people living with Alzheimer’s,” said Monica Moreno, senior director, care and support, Alzheimer’s Association. “Changes in the daily routine, large gatherings and noisy environments – all holiday hallmarks – can create extra anxiety for someone living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”

To help families navigate holiday-related challenges, the Alzheimer’s Association is offering these simple tips to ensure an enjoyable holiday for all.

Prepare Your Guests: The holidays are full of emotions, so let guests know what to expect before they arrive and tell them how they can help. Suggest activities to engage the person with Alzheimer’s or best ways to communicate with them. “Cross talk or simultaneous conversations can be challenging for people living with Alzheimer’s, so try engaging them one-on-one or in smaller group settings,” Moreno advises.

Build on traditions and memories: Take time to experiment with new traditions that might be less stressful or a better fit with your caregiving responsibilities. If evening confusion and agitation are a problem, turn your holiday dinner into a holiday lunch or brunch.

Involve the person living with Alzheimer’s: Depending on abilities and preferences, make sure to keep the person with Alzheimer’s involved in the celebrations, such as packing cookies in tins or helping wrap gifts.

Plan ahead: When attending a holiday party, prepare the host for special needs, such as a quiet room for the person to rest when they get tired, away from the noise and distractions.

Adapt gift giving to ensure safe and useful gifts: Diminishing capacity may make some gifts unusable or even dangerous to a person with dementia. If someone asks for gift ideas, suggest items people living with the disease can easily enjoy, such as comfortable clothing, favorite music, videos and photo albums.

More holiday tips can be found by visiting the Alzheimer’s Association. The Alzheimer's Association 24/7 Helpline also provides reliable information and support to all those who need assistance. Call the helpline toll-free anytime, even holidays, at 1.800.272.3900.

The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. It is the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research. The Association’s mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Its vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.

CHRISTMAS TURKEY, TOY AND GIFT CARD DISTRIBUTION DECEMBER 21st , 2018

CHRISTMAS TURKEY, TOY AND GIFT CARD DISTRIBUTION DECEMBER 21st , 2018

LOCATION: FOOD LION 216 Market Dr, Emporia, VA

Hours: 6:30-7:30 P.M.

WORLDCARE RELIEF MINISTRY IS OFFERING A FREE CHRISTMAS TOY, TURKEY AND FOOD LION GIFT CARD DISTRIBUTION  TO FAMILIES IN NEED. (Supplies are limited)

December 21, 2018 at 6:30-7:30 pm.

Toys, turkeys and $10 Food Lion gift cards will be donated to those in need in Emporia, Virginia on a first come, first serve basis.  Please bring a form of identification and some form of information proving need such as: a Medicaid card, SNAP card or social services  benefits letter. People who do not have this information and still are in need will be handled on a case by case basis.

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