Making A Difference In Difficult Days

Making A Difference In Difficult Days

UNITED WAY of Rockbridge volunteers Bob Glidden, Tamara Trombetta and Rene Glidden sort the over 1,000 age-appropriate books that UWR will give to area young readers through the annual Rockbridge Christmas Baskets program. This is the fifth year that UWR has provided books for the Christmas Baskets program.

We are approaching a most unusual Thanksgiving. Many families won’t be gathering together this year because of COVID-19. Having upended our lives nearly nine months ago, the pandemic is still going strong. We have a dark winter ahead. Many of us may be wondering what we have to be thankful for this year. Actually, we have much to be thankful for, if we take the time and effort to contemplate and appreciate what we have.

We can be thankful for living in a land of plenty and having neighbors who help each other when the need arises. This pretty well sums up the mission of the United Way of Rockbridge, which serves those in need in Rockbridge County, Buena Vista and Lexington. UWR helps fund a wide array of safety net programs and other much-needed services. In this particular year of great need, UWR joined with the Community Foundation for Rockbridge, Bath and Alleghany to provide COVID-19 relief to local nonprofit organizations.

UWR does its best to assist smaller non-profits who may lack the resources to efficiently raise funds on their own, thus allowing these organizations to focus on their mission. Ninetyeight percent of the funds raised by UWR stay in our community. The remaining 2 percent allows UWR to draw on the vast resources of the United Way Worldwide organization.

The Rockbridge Area Relief Association, a UWR agency, is joining with the three Rockbridge area school systems in providing up to 1,000 turkeys and fixings to area families this Thanksgiving. These bountiful gifts were made possible with federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

As the pandemic has caused many local agencies to adjust their operations to meet current needs, UWR is helping to fund:

• Training for the advocates at Blue Ridge Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children who serve abused and neglected children referred to them by the courts.

• An additional attorney at Blue Ridge Legal Services which provides free legal assistance in civil cases of critical importance to low-income residents of the Rockbridge area.

• Environmental education and outdoor experiences with the Boxerwood Education Association, which partners with local schools to provide nature-based education in their early childhood education outreach program.

• The mobile food pantry program at Washington and Lee University’s Campus Kitchen, which works in partnership with RARA and the elementary school backpack program to provide food to disadvantaged persons in the Rockbridge area.

• Two events during the year for The Coffee House of Rockbridge. This program helps individuals with cognitive, developmental and physical disabilities to meet and socialize with each other, to build community bonds and join social networks.

• Food for The Community Table of Rockbridge, which provides freshly prepared meals that are either catered or offered and served as drivethru to approximately 250 individuals at two meals per week.

• Food purchased by the Natural Bridge/ Glasgow Food Pantry from the Blue Ridge Food Bank, a solely volunteer organization that provides food assistance to qualifying individuals and households in southern Rockbridge County.

• The HelpLine at RARA, which provides relief services to Rockbridge area low-income residents that are living at 200 percent of poverty level or below. The HelpLine provides financial assistance with utilities, heating fuel, rent, shelter and transportation to those who qualify.

• Early Literacy Initiative programs at the Rockbridge Regional Library that help preschoolers prepare for kindergarten, provide books and activities to children throughout the area and train and match literacy tutors with struggling readers.

• Transportation for local clients to dialysis appointments by the Rockbridge Area Transportation System, Inc. RATS provides nonemergency, demand-response, door-to-door transportation service for wheelchair and ambulatory riders.

• The Talking Book Center, a sub-regional library under the guidance of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, which provides audio books and magazines to patrons that are not able to read conventional print books.

• Valley Program for Aging Services, which provides such services as Medicare counseling, Meals on Wheels and programs to help seniors cope with balance issues, visual and mobility barriers and dementia.

• The YMCA’s After-School Enrichment Program which, in partnership with all of the area elementary schools, helps students increase their knowledge of real-life experiences and improve their nutrition habits. The Y Enrichment Centers provide families an all-day program option on virtual learning support, enrichment and physical activity.

These are just some of the ways UWR is making a difference in our community. All of us can help with these efforts. UWR’s current campaign to raise $250,000 for its member agencies is 43 percent of the way towards its goal. The campaign began in September and runs through March, with decisions on allocations for next year being made in April.

At this time of Thanksgiving, we encourage everyone to show gratitude for what we have by supporting UWR. Contributions can be sent to United Way Rockbridge, P.O. Box 1094, Lexington, VA 24450. To make a one-time gift or set up a recurring monthly donation through PayPal, go to Anyone with questions should call (540) 463-4482 or email

The News-Gazette

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P.O. Box 1153
Lexington, VA 24450
(540) 463-3113

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