The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Lending a Hand

By Wanda Hylton © 1984

Issue: April, 1984

My grandparents lived in the Bent community of Meadows of Dan. They lived a simple life; yet, they were very happy. Part of their contentment seemed to stem from their willingness to share what they had and to help others. If one of their neighbors needed a babysitter, a bag of seed potatoes, help in the fields, or an extra piece of cloth for a quilt top my grandparents always seemed to find a way to lend a helping hand.

My grandparents weren’t the only ones to lend a helping hand. The entire Meadows of Dan community was quick to respond to those in need, even without being asked. One of my earliest memories recalls such help. The week had been cold and snowy. The road into the Bent was blocked by snow drifts several feet high. Everyone knew that we were blocked in for a while. In those days the phone lines had about six people on one line and of course all six talked to one another all at one time. During one such “conversation” one of the ladies in the community picked up her phone and told the others that her house was on fire. Immediately women had their husbands and their older children putting on their coats, trudging through drifts, hurrying to help the neighbor. With the water frozen in the pipes and the time it took to wade through the snow there was little the neighbors could do and the house burned to the ground. Again, the neighbors took action; clothes, supplies, shelter and moral support were freely given to the burned out family. No thanks requested.

Today life is not as simple as the days of my childhood. Problems have changed from needing seed potatoes to needing disc for our home computers. However, some things have not changed. People still need babysitters, people still need moral support and mountain people still care enough to lend a helping hand.

The Patrick County Multi-Disciplinary Team on Child Abuse and Neglect (MDT) could use a helping hand. The MDT is an organization made up of caring people who are doing things to help the people of Patrick County. They do this by offering a crisis intervention service called the Phone A Listener (P.A.L.S.) in the county. Volunteers are trained so that they know how to help those who call, people who are depressed, who have a problem they can’t handle or who simply need a friendly person to talk with. The MDT helps the county by offering help to the victims and offenders of family violence, namely child and spouse abuse. They also help the community through education, parents are helped to know more about children and the general public is helped to know more about family violence.

You can lend a helping hand to the MDT, and thus to the community, in the following ways. Become a P.A.L.S. volunteer. Offer up your time one day a month to answer the phone and talk with people who need someone to listen. Become a Safe Home volunteer. Offer up your home as temporary emergency shelter for a woman and her children who must leave an abusive home. Support through donations. This program costs money to operate. Donations are tax deductible and vital to the continuation of the program.

If you would like to help or if you would like more information please call Wanda at 694-3328 (office) or 694-6520 (home), or write:

The Patrick County MDT
P.O. Box 498
Stuart, Va. 24171


Editors Note: Wanda Hylton said it so nice. Wherever you live, there’s probably a program like this that needs your support.