Op-Ed: Achieving the American Dream on the Eastern Shore Might Depend on a Zip Code by Robbie Gill


It is truly a blessing to live and work here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The natural beauty of this place we call home and the warmth of friends and neighbors embody everything my family and I could ask for in a community. With the Holiday season upon us, acts of giving and kindness are commonplace. Those acts of selflessness can make a huge difference in the life of someone in need.

How fortunate are we to live here? In America, the zip code you’re born in can determine your future. Just one number different and you could have another life, go to a different school, work a different job, wrestle different challenges or have different dreams.

21601 is my zip code. Surrounded by water and beauty, Easton and Talbot County is a wonderful place to live. Yet, few would know that more than half of our students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Poverty is a real challenge for many in our community and many of our neighbors live with food insecurity (lacking reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food).

Need isn’t an anomaly on the Eastern Shore or limited to food insecurity. Travel to the far reaches of Talbot County to 21671 (Tilghman Island) or head south to 21613 (Cambridge) or north to 21668 (Sudlersville), from Perryville to the state line of Virginia, you’ll see children, families and older adults in need.

What makes our community so great is how we respond to those in need. That is where my pride in this place shines brightest. Through the work of hundreds incredible of charities and the tireless support of volunteers and donors, our communities are filled with opportunities to grow, develop and thrive.

This year at the Y, we’ll provide over $2,000,000 in financial assistance and outreach support to over 17,000 individuals that need a helping hand. We’re working to ensure everyone has the opportunity to live their best life, right here on the Eastern Shore through kindergarten readiness programs, summer learning experiences, learn to swim classes, mentoring opportunities, cancer survivor programming, enrichment based after school programs and so much more. None of this would be possible without volunteers and donors stepping to the plate to make a positive difference. Thank you!

There are charities all across the Eastern Shore of Maryland, in every zip code, doing meaningful work and making a difference. Let’s lift up their work through volunteering and contributing. In doing so, we can support those in need and make every zip code on the Eastern Shore filled with promise and opportunity.

Happy Holidays to you and yours,

Robbie Gill is the Chief Executive Officer of YMCA of the Chesapeake

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