Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009 Powerful Thoughts, A Dare to Do Something

It’s Thanksgiving time, the time to be thankful for the good things in one’s life. What will the following be thankful for? (I will relate brief summaries of stories that actually happen, sadly often, in Mesa County.)

A child, aged 12, is always late to school which begins at 7:30 a.m. Turns out he has walked his siblings to their grade school after getting them dressed and fed. He didn’t eat because there wasn’t enough food. Mom died, dad is an alcoholic. The child had to drive dad to the bar and either pick him up or sleep in the car till closing…After numerous calls to Social Services, after a couple of years, the children were separated and put in foster care. That child who was the care-giver grew up, found work in West Virginia, hopefully was able to stay in touch with the brothers and sisters he loved and cared for before he was killed in a construction accident.

Then, before free breakfast and lunch programs, there were teachers who kept breakfast cereal, bought milk and juice for kids who came early because they could eat before anyone would see. The same teachers often bought lunches for the same.

Then, there were the clothes bought for kids who badly needed such. The teachers quickly caught on that they needed to take out the clothing labels so the so-called parents couldn’t return them for cash to support drugs or drinking. Then they learned to use marker and write inside the garments, not for resale, as the parents attempted to resale through places like Encore and even yard sales. Example, "Where's the new coat?" asks the teacher.

Reply: "My mom took it back." or "My mom sold it."

There are more stories I can tell you if you wish.

Even with free lunch, etc. now, there are those who either through pride, or ignorance, or who knows what, do not apply for the programs. There are children living under our noses, in dire poverty, in our nation of wealth. What a paradox!

Today’s daily newspaper ran a front-page story on the Backpack Program started by Mike Berry of Grand Junction. The idea for this was born when, according to the story in the paper, Berry had met an elementary school girl in tears, hurrying to her school, late for class. He stopped her and asked what was wrong, to find from her response that she was cold, from sleeping in a car as well as hungry.

When editing a local newspaper, I was well acquainted with the program, having done several stories about the Backpack Program. Now, working with elementary students in a private school setting, I hadn’t thought about what happens in the public system.

A few years ago, aI had encountered staff at Rim Rock Elementary filling backpacks with food items. Inquiring why, I was struck with disbelief as to the fact that too many of our kids, our national treasure, go hungry on weekends and during summer months because of so many varied socio-economic reasons…ranging from job loss to social ills such as alcoholism, drugs, or parents who have no clue how to manage a household, or who, putting their own needs first, forget they even have children when the child is able to walk, talk and forage for him/herself.

I have to add that some of our esteemed legislators, both at the state and national level, seem immune to the many “third-world” pockets of poverty in our very own country.

I also have to add, that when watching news, I cannot even guess how legislators can continue to support Insurance and Drug companies as these entities continue to help downward spiral our economy while they reap higher and higher profits as less and less people can afford to be insured. Denial of pre-existing conditions, charging higher premiums because a person had to file a claim, denials for life-saving treatments, are but a few of their tactics as millions of children go hungry, have no medical treatment available when ill, force families into bankruptcy when they choose to get care because they want life for their child, or mother, or father.

I asked about the number of homeless children in Mesa County and how the school system takes care of them. I am waiting for responses from those I called. I will publish them when I receive such.

So, what my rambling is basically about is the fact that we, if we care, become more aware of the needs of our children, our future parents, voters, leaders, pre-creators of the very face of this nation.

I don’t know how many persons will even bother to read what I have written, but I challenge any who do, to make a difference. Not all of us have the means to give money and such, but we should give what we can, money-wise, or through volunteer work whether coaching youth teams, becoming a Partner or contributing time. How about often writing our legislators who seem to have lost touch with the real world of every day survival. Remember the guys who tried to justify cutting aid for programs, which helped pregnant, unwed mothers, blaming them for the world’s ills. They forget responsibilities of the so-called fathers, of home life; after all they are in Washington, sheltered and pampered by lobbyists, special interests such as the Health Care Industry who pad campaign purses with gold.

Mike Berry and all those who help run the Backpack Program deserve all the thanks we can give. Let us, each of us; give as well, money, food, and letters to legislatures, time and any support. And, if you are against so called government involved in health care, rethink this, without competition, do you really believe any insurances companies will give up their record profits? Are you so out of touch that you don’t know health programs in Canada, the UK, Europe look at the US system and laugh because their programs work, yes they have faults, but work so much better than ours? Or, are you one of those who simply listen to the Glenn Becks, the “No” party and all their propaganda as they grow richer thanks to the money donated to them by those Insurance Kings?

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