Urgent Editoral in Today’s Asheville Citizen-Times: “This is a program worth saving”

29 Jun

Cross-posted from the Asheville Citizen-Times:

For Asheville’s YWCA Diabetes Wellness program, the clock is ticking.

That means the clock is also ticking for the nearly 200 participants in that program, a program that may literally mean life or death for some.

The state budget passed the North Carolina General Assembly earlier this month wiped out the N.C. Health and Wellness Trust Fund, resulting in the loss of $100,000 worth of grant funds to the YWCA, slashing the Diabetes Wellness program’s budget by almost 50 percent. As such, the YWCA Executive Director Holly Jones says the program’s coordinators are scrambling to slash expenses and seek other sources of income to fill the financing gap.

Those are long-term solutions; however, there’s a short-term gap of $25,000 need to keep the program ongoing, a gap that needs to be filled by June 30.

Tomorrow, in other words.

A lot of progress has been made toward the goal, with about $19,000 raised thanks to efforts such as the pledge from supporters to donate $100 toward the drive for every new Club W member signed up.

But the program is still in the danger zone.

Jones said, “This has been a devastating financial blow for us. We try never to be in emergency mode when it comes to financing our ongoing programs, but this was an extremely unexpected loss.”

The funding loss shouldn’t mean the loss of the program.

For let’s be very clear: This is a program worth saving.

The program combines exercise training, support groups and nutrition education with a special focus on addressing health disparities related to race and the management of diabetes. Participants are required to invest what financial resources they can, attend the program support group for the first six months and to exercise at the YWCA two times a week.

Walt Robertson, a Vietnam veteran and well-known retired Asheville police officer, testified to the program’s effectiveness in a story in the Citizen-Times earlier this month. Battling knee injuries that hampered his ability to exercise, Robertson saw his weight get out of control and began a struggle with Type 2 diabetes and depression.

Since beginning the wellness program, Robertson has shed 42 pounds, and his outlook is “in a much better place emotionally.”

Robertson said, “I was in a very dark place and got close to doing something  stupid, but this program changed everything. A lot of gyms are filled with these young guys with huge muscles, and that’s very intimidating to a lot of people, especially with diabetes. Here, the only competition is to beat the disease, and everybody’s on the same team in that fight.”

Jones noted that nearly 80 percent of the program’s participants experience better medical outcomes.

It’s ironic that the YWCA is scrambling to save this program on the heels of report just out in the United Kingdom that shows the number of adults worldwide with diabetes has doubled in just the last three decades.

The countries with the fastest rates of growth include Cape Verde and Saudi Arabia.

And, unfortunately, the good old U.S. of A.

There are tools available right here to help combat what could correctly be termed a new epidemic.

That is, if we don’t carelessly throw them away.

The clock is ticking.


Donate: Visit http://www.ywcaofasheville.orgto make an online donation, call 254-7206 ext. 206 or mail a check made out to the YWCA of Asheville, to 185 S. French Broad Ave. Asheville, NC 28801.

Join: A group of YWCA donors has agreed to donate $100 for every new Club W membership through June 30, up to 30 new members. Membership fees also contribute to community programming through the YWCA. Visit www.ywcaofasheville.org or call 254-7206 for membership information or to join.

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