Sabrina Shrader told legislators on Wednesday that she is the first in her impoverished McDowell County family to graduate from high school, the first to graduate from college, and in June hopes to be the first to earn a master's degree. The 29-year-old credits Upward Bound for her school success, as David Gutman reported in Thursday's Gazette.
Shrader works for Concord University, where it is now her turn to take poor kids in hand. She helps students from Mercer, McDowell, Summers, Monroe and Greenbrier counties to plan and prepare to succeed. They visit colleges and museums to broaden their minds and their world.
And as she stood there, explaining it to members of the Legislature, her program is turning away 10 kids to cut 5.2 percent of its budget because of federal sequestration.
Just the night before, across the river at the University of Charleston, Wil Haygood, author of "The Butler," told a packed auditorium he chooses book subjects because he feels some personal connection to them. One of his many works is a biography of former New York congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr., son of a minister from Virginia and a woman from Kanawha County, and one of the people responsible for creating Upward Bound. Haygood was an Upward Bound kid in Ohio. He credits the program with whetting his appetite for a college education and speaks with gratitude about Powell.
And down the street on Wednesday, shortly after Shrader described the difficulties of poor families to the Legislature, about 25 people at the Kanawha County Public Library attended a panel discussion about homelessness. Homelessness has all kinds of factors, the panel said, but the number one cause: mental illness and substance abuse.
And then a little later, members of Kanawha County Communities that Care gathered at the South Charleston Public Library to catch each other up on progress on their anti-drug abuse activities. They represent health care, law enforcement, social services and neighborhoods all over the county.
What do all these snapshots from the week have in common?
Someone has made an effort.