MARBLE FALLS — Even with all the nonprofits offering numerous services in the area, Linda Richardson and Mildred Rhoades noticed a few cracks that were just big enough for people to still slip through.
Instead of standing aside and hoping somebody would do something about the gaps, the two joined forces and not long ago started Rural Opportunities Providing Encouragement.
“We saw a lot of smaller needs not being met, so we put our heads together and this is what we came up with,” Richardson said. Both brought their passions and strengths to the program.
Currently ROPE is offering basic computer-skill classes for senior citizens and collecting shoes for children who can’t afford a proper pair.
“The shoe program is really Millie’s (Rhoades) passion,” Richardson said. “Basically, it’s for low-income children who can’t get good shoes.”
Even though some agencies already try to help these children, there never seems to be enough shoes to go around, Richardson said.
Another focus of ROPE is helping senior citizens learn some basic computer skills.
“When the senior citizens of today were working or making a home, they didn’t have the time to learn about computers. And most people didn’t have them in their homes like we do today,” Richardson said. “At that time (having computer skills) was a luxury; today it’s a necessity.”
Though ROPE offers programs to help seniors and other individuals improve their computer skills for better career opportunities, Richardson said for many older adults it’s more about staying connected to their children and grandchildren.
“One of the reasons many older adults want to learn computer skills is so they simply can learn how to e-mail, send photos — basically, they want to be a part of their own family,” she said.
With more correspondence and communication being sent over over the Internet, Richardson said it’s extremely important senior citizens acquire some basic skills. But for those on a fixed income, paying for classes might just be out of the question.
ROPE offers the classes at no cost to qualified people.
“Many of the things we offer you might not ever realize are things would need assistance with,” Richardson said. “People may get a letter but because of vision problems, they can’t read it. So, we’ll read it to them.”
Other services include assisting people with filling out utility bill payments and job applications.
ROPE, a fairly new program, still needs help raising funds.
Officials with several other nonprofits said federal and state grant money has all but dried up.
Richardson and Rhoades don’t even draw a salary from their work with ROPE in order to keep overhead costs low.
“But it still takes money to run ROPE,” Richardson said. “If you went to a private individual or company to learn some of the same computer skills you learn here, you would pay around $45 per hour.”
During the summer, King Line Breeder of Cherokee donated a 1-year-old filly named Hannah to ROPE to raffle as a fundraiser.
ROPE is selling tickets for the horse for $5 apiece and five for $20.
“It’s really a beautiful horse,” Richardson said. “Everybody who see Hannah falls in love with her.”
The drawing is Dec. 6.
“The breeders said they will provide papers to the winner,” Richardson said.
For more information on ROPE or to purchase a ticket for the horse, call (830) 693-0700.
ROPE is located in the T.Q. Brown Community Center, 1016 Broadway.