Editorial: Helping others, making a difference

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In a quiet corner of Barrington, a group of parishioners is making a difference.

The folks at Saints Matthew and Mark Episcopal Church, which is located on Chapel Street in the Alfred Drown neighborhood, have been quietly helping a family of refugees who were burned out of their home earlier this year. They have raised money to off-set the cost of rent in a new apartment, and they have collected goods to share with the family that lost everything in the fire.

The refugees are no strangers to hardship. The mother and her four young children come from Eritrea in northeast Africa, where poverty is rampant and human rights violations are the rule.

The family fled its homeland and began a new life in Providence, but its struggles continued when a fire gutted the apartment where it lived. The mother and her children escaped with their lives, but not much more.

Understanding their challenges, and feeling that they needed to put their faith into action, the group from Sts. Matthew and Mark organized an online fund drive and collected donated items. They raised more than $6,000 and collected hundreds of things that will help the refugees as they begin their lives in a new home once again.

"I think we have a moral obligation to do something," said Alice Cross, one of the residents who has been a driving force for the group of volunteers. 

Ms. Cross and the other parishioners offer a shining example of how local folks can make a big difference. And they are not alone. In this week's newspaper we also have a story about two high school seniors — Ian Coyne and Tommy Murray — who used their senior projects to organize an event that will raise money for the fight against ALS. There will be a "Spring Fling" at the school this Friday afternoon.

Kudos to all those who are working hard to help others. Their efforts offer a shining example to others.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.