ROSES to the nearly 1,000 people who showed up to donate blood at the 20th annual Carolina Blood Drive last week.Organizers had set a goal of 1,000 useable units. They came up just a tad short; they got 966 useable units from the more than 980 donors. But that 966 is 126 more than the drive netted last year, and will become, so we're told, almost 3,000 blood products to help sick and injured people throughout North Carolina. That's worth applauding.Especially noteworthy was that 210 of the donors were first-time donors.
ROSES to Rock Against Cancer and the School of Rock, which provide young patients at UNC Hospitals with music therapy, instruments and the opportunity to create their own music.Rock Against Cancer, which was founded by Chapel Hill's Lisa White, is a national nonprofit organization that works to support the emotional needs of young cancer patients. The organization recently presented $20,000 to the School of Rock, the N.C. Children's Hospital's music therapy program. The School of Rock opened in February 2006 to give patients an opportunity to create, perform and record original compositions. The School of Rock has since been replicated in hospitals from New Jersey to California.What place does that sort of thing have in a hospital? Plenty. There's more to healing than medicine. Music can play a useful role in helping kids -- and adults, for that matter -- manage pain, ease anxiety, foster communication and feel better.Most of us feel our lives enriched and deepened by music. It can lift our spirits, build connections, help us express ourselves and comfort us in hard times. Who needs such things more than young people dealing with serious illness?
ROSES to Liz Parham, whose term as the inaugural executive director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership has gotten that organization off to a promising start.Parham, who took on the job three years ago, is preparing to step down to assume a new role, as -- take a deep breath -- director of the Office of Urban Development for the Division of Community Assistance in the state Department of Commerce.There has long been concern about high-profile vacant storefronts downtown. Parham made clear from the beginning of her tenure that, while filling vacancies is important, she saw the partnership's job as more expansive than that. It was about creating a vibrant, energetic, creative downtown that would be conducive to the sorts of businesses that would both benefit from that kind of environment and contribute to it.She and the partnership's board identified five main areas of concern: parking, panhandling, homelessness, safety and cleanliness. Under her directorship, the partnership launched the Real Change from Spare Change program to address panhandling and poverty. The partnership, recognizing the potential of West Franklin Street as a dining and entertainment destination, also collaborated with West End merchants to establish the successful valet parking program.Is there more to do? Tons. But Parham has set the Downtown Partnership on the right track.