Give the Gift of Community

“We have the resources to end poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The syllable “op” – as in optimism – derives from Latin.  Ops was the name of the Roman goddess of harvests. She blessed the activities of sowing and reaping. Add to that the syllable “port” for safe harbor, plus the syllable “unity” for cooperative community and you get the word “opportunity.”  Poverty is the Opposite of Opportunity.  Bryan Stevenson the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of a must read book called “Just Mercy” says the opposite of Poverty is Justice.

Despite possessing talent, intelligence, goodness, grace, courage, compassion, and other phenomenal attributes not everyone gets a chance to shine. Some don’t even survive. The Somali people have an even more direct saying that translates to “Poverty is slavery.”  

In 2012, OpenDoors named a scholarship fund for the late Mrs. Llewellyn LaBruce Perry, who was a woman far ahead of her time. Lew was an incredible asset to the Asheville community right up until the day she died on New Year’s Eve 2010, at age 95.  Lew felt that a quality education should be accessible to all children.  She was an anti-war activist, an equal rights activist, and a strong advocate for racial and gender equality.  Lew tutored children living in poverty in Asheville and was a supporter and volunteer at the YMI, as well as a member of the Booster Club of the YWCA, a very diverse and committed group of women ages 60-90 who practiced what they preached in support of each other.  Your gift to this fund will support academic assessments and tutoring for local students, and teacher training for public school educators.

In 2015 our community launched the Jill Rowe Abernethy Fund for Children in Need, securing resources and allowing for opportunities for local students.  In Jill’s honor, Bill and their kids, Eli, Carson, Sarah and Gracie, have determined that this fund will help to support students with college potential who struggle with homelessness or unstable housing. Your investment in this fund provides the necessary foundation for increased student growth and achievement, which leads to a sustainable future for local kids and their families.  You can learn more about Jill’s legacy here.

These two women, and their many friends who see them as heroes, exemplify the commitment to educating all students and the strengthening of community.  We all know that in order to break the shackles of the perpetual cycle of poverty we need a community of people who are not satisfied with investing only in basic welfare, but who are willing to go the extra mile and take a personal interest in a child’s holistic well-being.  OpenDoors is a community of helping hands reaching out and collectively helping students up so they can stand on your own two feet – and then applauding the willingness and initiative to do so.  We educate, elevate and then celebrate their successes. 

This holiday season, please consider supporting the growth of local children by giving to one of the special funds listed above.  You will offer students transformational hope, inspiration, and self-confidence, as well as tangible tools like literacy, supported and trained advocates, and a powerful social network that enable them to take full advantage of their opportunities and lead extraordinary lives.

It’s easy to give online at

(Written collaboratively by Tom Kerr, Nancy McClinton & Jen Ramming)