Last night, the Buncombe County Commissioners heard from forty-eight organizations (I only counted forty-seven.) requesting a total of $7 million for various projects. For awhile, I felt I was drowning. Percentages like 25 to 50 were cited for the poor, afflicted, and sexually-abused. The new normal looked like everybody, with neither food nor shelter, was going crazy.

In the elevator after the meeting, three youngsters who had come to request money were just astounded at the county’s needs. Among the presenters were several who said their organizations provided assistance for thousands of people in crisis. I had been feeling the pain of the faces they put on the problems, but after a while, I was sure the presenters had served an unduplicated population in crisis the size of Asheville – and these were just a few of the organizations engaging in crisis intervention.

“There’s a lot going on,” said one dude in the elevator.
“There’s a lot not going on,” said another.

But on the bright side, things had really changed. Studying public policy for twenty years, one gets upset because the wisdom of the wise falls on deaf ears. But this night, numerous applicants were talking about helping people become productive, contributing members of society. Until then, the big thing was connecting the little honey boo-boos with wraparound services to sustain the protoplasm. Well, there was a lot of that, too. Three organizations wanted navigators, and some applicants spoke of noticing this or that about somebody applying for something else and getting them hooked up with more and more. There was also the need for education and outreach for people who don’t know they’re in crisis or that they qualify for free crisis intervention.

But back to the bright side, Allison Jordan, speaking for Children First, emphasized that programs don’t heal, they only create opportunities to forge healthy relationships that can encourage and inspire. Another lady told how her program helped victims of cancer who are too middle-class to afford treatment or qualify for other forms of assistance.