The Transylvania Times -

Guest Column: Reopening North Carolina


Last updated 5/13/2020 at 6:31am

During Phase 1 of the state’s reopening our DSS (Department of Social Services) building will remain closed to the public, but we are still busy working inside. If you have any questions or need assistance for any of the many DSS services, call (828) 884-3174. Transylvania County has done an excellent job keeping our COVID-19 case numbers low, but this has not been easy as there are huge negative impacts on our businesses and families.

3 W’s

Our state Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mandy Cohen, encourages us to follow the 3 W’s. Wear a cloth face covering; wait 6 feet apart and avoid close contact; wash hands often or use hand sanitizer. When this pandemic is behind us, I believe we will stop taking simple things for granted and will see the world in a much different light.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. For many this year, Mother’s Day activities were reduced as COVID-19 still lingers. Emails, letters, cards, or video chats were a few options to make sure your mother was recognized this year.

World No Tobacco Day

World No Tobacco Day, which is May 31 this year, is annually sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other global partners. This campaign is an opportunity to raise awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure, as well as to discourage tobacco use in any form. Many of the COVID-19 fatalities, as well as other serious illnesses, are more likely directly linked to lung damage from tobacco use or second-hand smoke. Healthy lungs help people live longer and more productive lives.

International Day of Families

We are family! We want to celebrate families this month by commemorating the International Day of Families on May 15. We want to acknowledge the struggles that families face, too. The International Day of Families was founded by the United Nations in 1994 to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic factors that affect family dynamics. Many communities have celebrated this day by offering events for families to come together for projects to benefit the community. This year, there will be few community events in order to protect the vulnerable from the COVID-19 risks. Instead, let us make this a time of reflection on the realities showing up in our families in this unprecedented time.

The COVID-19 pandemic measures are meant to protect people from a threatening virus. In our community, we are seeing remarkable success in keeping the rate of infection low, but there is a cost to this willingness. These measures have turned our lives upside down, often on top of common struggles in workplace or home relationships. Families are enduring the challenges of confinement, lost wages and an unpredictable future. How are we responding to these stresses? How are we taking care of ourselves and our loved ones? How are children doing with so much change in their lives? Are we seeking and accepting the help we need?

Child Welfare works with families – traditional and non-traditional – to assure that children have a safe, nurturing space where they can thrive to become healthy, creative, contributing members of our community. Child Welfare relies on community voices to share their concerns about a child’s safety and well-being. In Transylvania County, and across the country, Child Welfare responders have seen a drastic drop in child abuse reports. While it might seem like good news on the surface, the numbers alarm those working with families on preventing abuse and neglect. Many calls to Child Welfare come from educational personnel and, with schools closed, there are fewer eyes on children and the challenges they might face.

Help us support families in this challenging time by checking in with neighbors and paying attention to what is happening to children in your neighborhood. Report to authorities as soon as possible if you see or hear something unusual. Be a voice for the children and families in our community!

(Darrell Renfroe, MSW, is Transylvania County DSS Director.)


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