ROSES to the 550 people, give or take, who took part in the CROP Hunger Walk in Carrboro on Sunday.The annual 4-mile walk is organized by the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service to raise money to combat global hunger. Most of the proceeds go to Church World Service for hunger-relief efforts throughout the world. A portion of the money raised stays here to help stock local food pantries.The need to feed those in need is always with us. But it's especially timely now, when the economy is wobbly, gas prices keep climbing and the news carries reports of hunger-driven unrest in some of the world's poorest nations. Locally, the IFC pantry has seen a 35 percent increase in demand for groceries and an even higher spike in requests for monetary support.When times are hard, those at the bottom, who have little or no buffer against economic distress, suffer the most. The 500-plus who walked Sunday afternoon helped ease someone's suffering, at least a little.
ROSES to the Student Health Action Coalition -- SHAC -- which recently celebrated 40 years of providing free health care to people who otherwise have little access to treatment.The group holds a free medical clinic every Wednesday at the Piedmont Health Services facility in Carrboro, and a twice-weekly dental clinic in Carr Mill Mall. The providers are students in various health-related disciplines at UNC who volunteer their time and expertise. Faculty from the department of family medicine oversee the students' work in the clinic.The students get a lot of hands-on experience, and the sense of accomplishment that comes from helping patients who may have nowhere else to turn, and the patients, of course, get much-needed health care. According to Jim Emory, who researched the topic for his master's degree thesis, SHAC is the longest existing student-run free clinic in the nation.It's a wonderful service. Here's to another 40 years.
ROSES to Emil Kang and his staff at Carolina Performing Arts, who in just a few years have established UNC as one of the nation's premiere venues for world-class arts and cultural performers.Kang, the university's executive director for the arts, has overseen the establishment of the Carolina Performing Arts series, which began in September 2005 with the re-opening of the beautifully renovated Memorial Hall. Each year since, the program has upped the ante, bringing an ever more diverse and spectacular lineup of artists to Chapel Hill. The current 2007-08 season has seen performances by Yo-Yo Ma, k.d. lang, Stomp, and both the St. Petersburg and Royal Philharmonic orchestras, among many others. This season is winding down, but it's winding down with a bang, literally -- last Saturday brought a sensational performance by the avant-garde musical group Bang on a Can All-Stars and the spectacular Burmese drummer Kyaw Kyaw Naing. Friday night, the acclaimed Merce Cunningham Dance Company will perform, and the season concludes next month with one of the world's great pianists, Mitsuko Uchida.Next season is packed: Pilobolus, the Neville Brothers, Branford Marsalis, the New York Philharmonic, the Orchestra of St. Luke's and, making their first-ever appearance in the Southeastern United States, Russia's Bolshoi Ballet. In just a few short years, Kang and company have made Chapel Hill a destination for some of the world's great artists. That enriches our whole community.