03-09-2017 Letters and Commentary


Reach out to someone you disagree with

Dear Editor,

As a leader in efforts to prevent the exploitation of children, women and families online for the past 24 years, Enough Is Enough, has enjoyed a great relationship with both Republicans and Democrats because Internet safety is a bi-partisan issue.

Our motto has always been, “check your differences at the door for the sake of the children.”

At a time when our nation desperately needs to come together, it is my desire to challenge leaders – and all of us – to bring unity rather than to deepen the widening divisions in our nation.  March is Women’s History Month and March 8 was International Women’s Day, which is usually celebrated in the U.S. with a feel-good awareness campaign about the importance of women’s rights.

This year, however, grassroots activists around the world planned something more radical – a women’s general strike, both to oppose President Donald Trump and to make a big push for women’s equality. March organizers urged U.S. women to take the day off work if they can to show support of this strike.

Now is NOT the time for women to take a day off, it’s the time to roll up our sleeves and fight to build unity. Women, men and youth should come together and focus on the issues that unify us, and respectfully agree to disagree and pursue civility by treating others with dignity and respect, rather than focus on those that divide us.

I leave you with this challenge: Reach out to someone whose disagreement with you on social or political issues has caused division and start building a bridge of peace and reconciliation. Remember to listen more than you speak, not a sermon, just a thought. #highroad


Donna Rice Hughes

CEO and President

Enough Is Enough

Join the Red Cross movement this March by giving blood, March 24

All eligible blood donors are encouraged to give blood and help save lives in March, Red Cross Month. Donating is easier than ever with the Blood Donor App and RapidPass.

With the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, donors can conveniently schedule and manage donation appointments, access their donor card, track the impact of their donations and earn rewards. Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questions online at redcrossblood.org/RapidPass before coming to their appointments.

March has been recognized as Red Cross Month by every U.S. president since 1943 in celebration of the Red Cross volunteers who help those in need by giving their time, money or blood. Join their ranks by making an appointment to give blood by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

A local opportunity to donate blood in Van Buren County is Friday, March 24, 2017 from noon – 5:45 p.m. at the Federated Church, 65418 Red Arrow Hwy. in Hartford.

Upton Foundation pledges $240,000 for education center

Lakeland Health is pleased to announce the Frederick S. Upton Foundation has committed a $240,000 lead gift toward the auditorium in the new Frederick S. Upton Education Center – to be named in the family’s honor. The renovated Frederick S. Upton Education Center will be located on the basement floor of the new 260,000 square foot Lakeland Medical Center Pavilion which is slated for completion in 2020.

The center will offer enhanced educational opportunities and innovative space for patients, community members, and associates. Plans for the site include an auditorium equipped to seat around 50 people. The space will also provide an opportunity for residents and students, here through a partnership with the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, to grow as doctors.

Since its creation in 1954, the Frederick S. Upton Foundation has worked to enhance the health of the community through such initiatives as the Center for Outpatient Services, St. Joseph; the Marie Yeager Cancer Center; and both the inpatient addition and current Frederick S. Upton Education Center at Lakeland Medical Center, St. Joseph.

“Not only do we appreciate the generous financial support the Frederick S. Upton Foundation has offered to Lakeland Health over the years, we are also grateful for their genuine friendship and continued leadership within our community,” said Loren B. Hamel, President and CEO, Lakeland Health. “The Upton family’s commitment to quality health services will continue to make a difference in the lives of our friends and neighbors – both now and into the future.”

“The support for Lakeland Health from the Upton family has long been a tradition beginning with Margaret and Frederick S. Upton in the early days of the hospital,” said Jeff Upton, Chairman, Frederick S. Upton Foundation. “The Upton Foundation Board of Directors believes both quality health care and quality education will help continue to enhance economic opportunity and growth in our community. The board was appreciative of the opportunity to fund the new auditorium and education center which will benefit all members of the community.”

For continued updates on the Pavilion, including architectural animations, visit www.lakelandhealth.org/pavilion. To learn more about how you can support the project, contact the Lakeland Health Foundations at (269) 927-5143 or visit www.lakelandhealthfoundations.org.

When is a good time to start receiving Social Security benefits?

Enjoying a comfortable retirement is everyone’s dream. For over 80 years, Social Security has been helping people realize those dreams, assisting people through life’s journey with a variety of benefits. It’s up to you as to when you can start retirement benefits. You could start them a little earlier or wait until your “full retirement age.” There are benefits to either decision, pun intended.

Full retirement age refers to the age when a person can receive their Social Security benefits without any reduction, even if they are still working part or full time. In other words, you don’t actually need to stop working to get your full benefits.

For people who attain age 62 in 2017 (i.e., those born between January 2, 1955 and January 1, 1956), full retirement age is 66 and two months. Full retirement age was age 65 for many years. However, due to a law passed by Congress in 1983, it has been gradually increasing, beginning with people born in 1938 or later, until it reaches 67 for people born after 1959.

You can learn more about the full retirement age and find out how to look up your own at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/retirechart.html.

You can start receiving Social Security benefits as early as age 62 or any time after that. The longer you wait, the higher your monthly benefit will be, although it stops increasing at age 70. Your monthly benefits will be reduced permanently if you start them any time before your full retirement age. For example, if you start receiving benefits in 2017 at age 62, your monthly benefit amount will be reduced permanently by about 26 percent.

On the other hand, if you wait to start receiving your benefits until after your full retirement age, then your monthly benefit will be higher. The amount of this increase is two-thirds of one percent for each month –– or eight percent for each year –– that you delay receiving them until you reach age 70. The choices you make may affect any benefit your spouse or children can receive on your record, too. If you receive benefits early, it may reduce their potential benefit, as well as yours.

Social Security’s mission is to secure your today and tomorrow. Helping you make the right retirement decisions is vital. You can learn more by visiting our Retirement Planner at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire.

Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov.

Lakeland Help at Home and CallSafe services relocating

Two Lakeland at Home entities, Help at Home and CallSafe, recently relocated their business operations to the St. Joseph area. The services, previously located at 2550 Meadowbrook Road in Benton Harbor, will share a new facility, located at 2724 Niles Avenue in St. Joseph. Regular business hours will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

“This move is in an effort to be more visible and accessible to those in need of our services within the community,” said Ellen Hatfield, Manager, Help at Home. “We hope that by offering a new retail-based environment it will allow us to continue providing the highest level of service and personalized care to our customers.”

Focused on helping individuals maintain their independence, Lakeland Help at Home home health aides provide the personal care, housekeeping, and companionship individuals may require while ensuring they remain safe and self-sufficient at home. Lakeland CallSafe provides the latest technology available in personal, medical, and safety alert systems. During an emergency, Care Center professionals respond immediately with the push of a button, assess the situation, and send the type of help requested while remaining in voice contact until help arrives.

For more information call (269) 985-4415 or visit www.lakelandhealth.org/homehealthcare.

Repairing foundations

I once did tiling at a house that had a crooked foundation. When I got to the marble around the master bath hot tub, it was a disaster. Marble is very unforgiving. It doesn’t bend for damaged foundations. Life doesn’t bend for damaged foundations either.

Church is sometimes thought of as a group of people who have nothing better to do with their time. With busy schedules and so many responsibilities, Sunday is the only day we have to ourselves. Other activities gradually squeeze church out of our programs.

But what is the result? Life becomes unbalanced. We no longer get spiritual input necessary for our total being. Sports are good. Fun times are good. Even extra sleep can be good. But is that all there is? Thankfully, no. There’s more to live for.

Some can remember when the Bible was regularly read in public schools. Daily doses of Psalms and Proverbs helped balance our education. We learned right from wrong from a tested standard, and were offered a broader foundation for life. Where do our children and grandchildren get that now? Social media doesn’t provide good spiritual foundation. We allow this to happen to their great disadvantage, but we can help fix it by getting reconnected ourselves – reconnected to more balanced life that includes not just constant activity, but that also includes discovering spiritual dimensions. Otherwise we are missing out on benefits that cannot be found elsewhere.

By choosing to give God space in our lives we set an example for others, demonstrating that they too can choose for themselves what really matters in life. Take time to hear from God. He wants our success even more than we want it ourselves, but to really win we need His input, His solid, straight foundation for building successful lives.

NUCLEAR DUMPING GROUND… State Senator John Proos has been bringing up discussion about the nuclear waste dump on the beach of Lake Michigan at Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in Covert.

Proos has been beating the drum on getting the spent radioactive materials removed from the site for the past few months. Just last week his resolution about the storage and recycling of spent nuclear fuel was approved by the State senate. Proos says Congress needs to open a permanent repository, refund the billions of dollars spent by consumers for the waste storage, or use the funds to support its recycling.

Proos has picked up where Congressman Fred Upton left off several years ago trying to get the waste moved to the Yucca Mountain nuclear dump taxpayers paid millions for 20 years ago.

Fred, even as a committee chairman in a Republican Congress with a Republican President, couldn’t get the nuclear waste off the shores of Lake Michigan and into the Nevada nuclear dumpsite.

Now John Proos, I’m guessing the “Upton Heir-apparent,” has picked up the mantle, taking it off the national spotlight and making it a Michigan issue.

Just recently, it was announced the Palisades plant would be closing next year. While public hearings are yet to be held by the state lawmakers to vote on the closing plan, there’s probably not much to be done. Hopefully our state lawmakers will rise to the occasion and insist the waste be removed from the Lake Michigan shoreline to a safe and secure long-term storage facility as a requirement for closure.

It could be Senator Proos is greasing the public opinion for the news that not only will the nuclear waste stay in Michigan, but also Michiganders will be stuck with the bill and all the risk.

THIS BUDS FOR US… the short winter of the first week of March gave way to balmy temperatures and cloudy days which have brought out buds on the shrubs and trees this week. Already crocus and daffodils are well above ground and a few days of sunshine will no doubt bring forth the blossoms.

Despite the forecast of winter weather the end of this week, hopefully we’ll get no deep freeze that will kill off the flowers and fruit buds and ruin any forthcoming harvests.

Happily, the Tri-Cities escaped the tornado activity of last week in the Niles and Dowagiac areas. We did get heavy rainfall that still leaves rivers and low-lying areas flooded. That was good news for the frogs that quickly set up spring croaking concerts during the warm nights.

It appears that the spring activity of all critters and plants may be put on hold for at least a couple weeks as “normal” March weather continues. Hopefully it will “go out like a lamb” on schedule.

ANNE IMPROVING DAILY… thank you all for the continued inquiries and best wishes following Anne’s hip replacement surgery, she is recovering nicely under the supervision of Dr. Jeff Postma and the able hands of the Lakeland Outpatient Therapy crew in Coloma.

She has been spotted out and about at the Coloma Harding’s wheeling an electric cart, pushing a shopping cart among the bargains at the Family Dollar Store in Watervliet, at Robert Michael Beauty Salon and Back on the Rack on Main Street, Watervliet.

Next stop will be Bible Study and Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church.

I’m still the designated driver though as she has not be unleashed to drive her PT Cruiser yet.

Keep up your prayers and kind thoughts.


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