BALOG COLUMN: 4 PAR staffers going above and beyond
Imagine that your employer gathered you and your fellow staffers on payday and told you that not only does your paycheck contain half of what you're supposed to get, but you're getting laid off because a former employee allegedly embezzled the company's money.
Would you keep coming to work?
For a few staffers at People Against Rape, the answer is yes.
Now, this is in no way meant to slight the people who were laid off who are not providing their services gratis. Some of them are legally prohibited from doing so, and others just can't afford to work for free.
But four folks have been donating their time since the first of the month, though two of them have said they'll have to stop by the end of next week.
And everybody, whether volunteering or not, according to PAR board Treasurer Vickey Cornelison-Grant, had the same reaction to the layoff:
What about the victims?
If not me, then who?
PAR provides many services throughout the tri-county area, though many of those services have been suspended in light of the missing money, things like counseling, staffing a hotline and accompanying victims to court.
Shaquana Grant is one of those former staffers who still comes to work. She's the agency's Hispanic victims advocate.
“Who else is going to do it if I don't do it?” she said.
They're still trying to serve the community. A program at the College of Charleston to educate students about being safe when out and about will still go forward, she said, even if it's not under PAR's banner.
Helping the helpers
Grant needs a job, like the other folks who were laid off. Cornelison-Grant said that part of the reason she wanted to let people know about the folks who continue to report for shifts even after being let go is that she hopes some other nonprofit or company will recognize their dedication and offer them work.
And Grant said that when she does get a paying job, she still plans to volunteer with the agency, in whatever form it takes, however and whenever she can.
One of the great ironies is that now people are asking Grant what her job is — or was — and what kinds of services the center provides.
This recent turn of events also has turned the tables a bit, in that the victims are offering a sympathetic ear to the staffers, Grant said.
“They're supportive of us because we've been supportive of them. They're supportive and sad.”
And the mood at the agency?
“There's hope,” Grant said. “It's just that we need money. We have to bring our books current, everybody still needs paychecks. Hopefully we can get the support of the community.”
There are, of course, some ways to help now. A volunteer training class started Wednesday night, but Cornelison-Grant said there will be more of those — lord knows the center needs every volunteer it can get.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. And if you do want to donate, please call 745-0144.
The need is even greater now.
Reach Digital Editor Melanie Balog at email@example.com or 937-5565.