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Originally published: 2012-12-17 15:15:43
Last modified: 2012-12-17 15:15:43

Our View: Profit and loss no measure for this enterprise

Given the economy, the unemployment rates and the poverty of the High Country, it comes as little surprise that a recent "point in time" snapshot released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development indicates an increase of almost 11 percent above the previous year in the number of homeless people living in our region.

Times are indeed hard for many people in the High Country, and hardest of all for the estimated 289 individuals homeless in Watauga County in 2012. 

This is troubling statistic made worse by a growing regional trend of an increasing number of homeless,  including families with children, the chronically sick and the mentally ill.

But if there is any encouraging news for our community and its homeless, it is this: Hospitality House and other agencies have managed to measure successes even as they struggle to aid the homeless in a shelter filled to capacity, and with resources fully tapped.

Those successes are tangible. In addition to operating a full shelter, Hospitality House offers GED and parenting classes onsite. And while an afterschool program for children will not erase the fact that they and their families are being housed in a shelter, it does add a moment of normalcy in a life that is temporarily confusing and off-balance.

Such moments do not come without much effort from a staff that measures success not in profit and loss, but by the worth of each individual.

Our community owes thanks to those who work in our shelter, our food banks, our churches and nonprofit enterprises. These are jobs they do not so much to eradicate the plight of homelessness -- for that is surely a milestone not within easy reach -- but to foster care for those in need, while helping those needy maintain dignity and value as individuals worthy of respect.