Caring for one’s community requires unity

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 7, 2003

&uot;This looks like it’s going to be about a four-Advil day,&uot; Harry Cross said Thursday as he strained and stretched to reach the high ceiling in The Children’s Center with his paint roller for the first time.

He was underestimating.

Cross was a member of Mayor E. Dana Dickens’ Blue Ribbon Day of Caring Team that helped paint the center which serves low-income pre-school children, giving them an opportunity to enter school on a more equal footing with those who by the accident of birth are born into a more privileged environment.


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For some reason, I was on the team, too. I was in Alabama on business when I checked my voice mail and had a message from Carol Lynn Shotton, the mayor’s secretary inviting me to participate. Carol Lynn communicates with me on a regular basis. She’s loyal to her employer, so it’s usually to chide me for something I’ve written that might be perceived as unflattering to the mayor, or some initiative the mayor is behind.

And her arguments are always valid, raising points that I either failed to consider, or did consider and disregarded because they didn’t fit in with whatever preconceived notion I had, or they were contrary to furthering the interests of the worldwide liberal media conspiracy.

&uot;Geez, she must have gotten a lot of turn-downs before coming to me,&uot; was my first thought upon hearing the message. &uot;I guess Leroy Schmidt was busy.

But I didn’t mind that, I was just delighted to be asked. So Thursday I found myself applying a coat of primer with Cross, Supt. Of Schools Dr. Milton Liverman, United Way Campaign Chairman John Sebrell and B.J. Willie of State Farm Insurance.

Everyone was enthusiastic at the start, filled with the spirit of the event and enjoying the camaraderie – we laughed, joked and had an oldies radio station playing. But after about an hour of straining to reach ceilings, making a mess and profuse sweating, that good feeling started to give way to the realization that what we were actually doing was painting which, along with IRS audits and proctology exams, are activities I’ve spent the better part of 41 years trying to avoid.

All kidding aside, it was a fun day and I’m glad I helped. You can, too.

The United Way’s goal this year is more than $621,000. And while a coat of primer is certainly important to The Children’s Center, and mulch is needed at the YMCA, what these agencies really need to fulfill their important missions in our community is money, and for many the United Way is their chief source of funding.

We have to take care of those among us who are unable to do for themselves. It’s what separates us from animals. It’s incumbent upon those of us fortunate enough to be healthy and working to help those who cannot help themselves. The United Way makes lending a helping hand not only possible, but relatively painless – at least compared to painting.

So when they pass the hat at your work in the coming weeks, please sign on to be a fair share giver. You will hardly miss it and the money will mean a great deal to those who need it, people right here in Suffolk.

And you won’t need any Advil.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald. You can reach him at 934-9611, or via e-mail at