05-04-2017 Letters and Commentary

LETTERS

God gave me the best mommy

Dear Editor,

I would like you to know just how special my mommy, Leah Dibble is. When I was born I was a big surprise to my mommy because I was born with Down syndrome. My mommy couldn’t be happier though, she told me I was the little boy she always wanted and she knew I would always love her. My mommy has made sure my Down syndrome will never limit me. She takes me to all of my Miracle League sporting events like baseball, basketball, bowling, soccer and pageants. Every year my mom raises money for the Michiana Down Syndrome Association and we participate in their yearly walk.

I hate it when my mommy has to go to work but she always tells me “mommy has to go to work to buy you toys and candy.” The best part is that she always does. When mommy is not working we are always doing something fun. She takes me to the bounce house, Sky Zone and my favorite Chuckie Cheese. She always has time to play my favorite game Pie Face with me or spray silly string.

Last October my mom and I had to stay in the hospital because I was sick with Leukemia. My mommy has never left my side since I was diagnosed. The days aren’t always fun and I can’t do all my favorite things at the moment but my mommy knows just how to make everything better and fun. Even though my journey has just begun I know it won’t be that bad because God gave me the best mommy.

Love,

Timmy Dibble

Deserves “Mother of the Lifetime” award

Dear Editor,

Here is a woman that has had five kids back in the 60s and 70s. The family has grown to a bunch of grandkids and a few great-grandchildren.

Over the years her middle son was always a loaner or felt like an outcast, mostly because of my views on how she lived her life. I’m 47-years-old now; I left my mother’s home when I was about 12-years-old.

With little contact for years, that again through my feelings it turned into no contact for almost the next 20 years. Mom always tried, every year I would get messages on my birthday telling me she loves me and I’ll always be her son. Every Christmas she would try to get me back into their lives.

She also never stopped trying to have a relationship with her grandkids from me. Unfortunately my children followed my lead and also treated her; well let’s say not like a grandmother.

Looking back I can’t believe how much I must of hurt her and my dad, let alone my siblings.

This year mom and dad had their 51st wedding anniversary then dad got sick. When I got the news how bad he was I was not ready for my reactions. I completely lost it, the thought of my father not knowing how sorry I was for all the pain I’ve caused them.

I did get to see him; I can only hope he heard my apology. At the same time I knew I could not cause mom or anyone else in this family any more pain.

As for the contest, mom never blinked when I first seen her after all the years, welcomed me with a kiss and open arms and the motherly love that she has always done her very best to give all her kids.

She turned 70-years-old last week; was able to come to her granddaughter’s wedding last week.

After what I’ve put her through I don’t know if I could of done the same.

We may not always agree with how some people live but I’ve learned the hard way, we are not here to judge them, no more than I would like them to judge me.

I think Babette Sullivan not only deserves to win your contest but also the mother of the lifetime award.

Dennis Sullivan

Latest version of Republican healthcare plan is worse than the original

Dear Editor,

House Republicans are floating a new amendment to their proposed health bill (AHCA), one that would likely cause even more Americans to lose coverage than the last version.

Leaders of the extreme right-wing Freedom Caucus and the somewhat less extreme Tuesday Group have reportedly hashed out a proposal that would let some states ditch key Obamacare policies, such as the requirement to charge sick people the same for coverage as healthy people and the requirement that health insurance policies cover essential health benefits.

Allowing insurance companies to charge higher premiums to individuals with pre-existing conditions would very likely price most people, with existing illnesses, out of the market. A recent study by the Center for American Progress found that if the proposed amendment were to be adopted, premiums for people with pre-existing conditions would increase by 137% to 700%, depending on the illness. For a 45-year-old with a history of breast cancer, the yearly premium would likely increase from $4,000 a year to $28,000 a year!

The Republicans are trying to claim that their revised plan would provide “access” to coverage for everyone. Larry Levitt, a spokesman for the Kaiser Family Foundation, made clear that this is an extremely misleading smokescreen. He stated that providing “access to coverage” without the requirement for premium equality “offers essentially no protection for people with pre-existing conditions.”

The amended Republican health care bill would lead to more than 24 million people losing their health insurance coverage, would result in the proliferation of useless junk policies, would deliver an enormous tax cut to the rich, and would add to the obscene profits of private health insurance companies.

Please write or call Representative Fred Upton and strongly urge him to withdraw his support from this hugely destructive Republican plan.

Audrey Lester, RN, MS, Saint Joseph

Berrien County ranked in bottom third of Michigan counties in child well-being

 Berrien County ranked 56th for child well-being by county according to the 2017 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book released last week by the Michigan League for Public Policy, putting it in the bottom third of Michigan’s 83 counties. Coupled with a recent report that 37% of the households in Berrien County are struggling to afford basic needs, the need for local government and philanthropic organizations to put child well-being at the top of their agendas has become urgent.

“No Michigan child should be experiencing poverty, hunger, abuse or neglect, regardless of where they are born and grow up, their race or ethnicity, or their family’s economic standing,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy.

The Michigan League for Public Policy has been compiling and releasing the annual Kids Count in Michigan Data Book for 25 years to analyze and evaluate the well-being of children in Michigan and its counties. The 2017 book primarily compares data from 2008 to 2015, analyzing 15 key indicators across four domains.

Comparing counties from 2008-2015, 72 counties saw their child poverty rate increase, 79 counties saw an increase in the percent of kids receiving free and reduced-price lunch, and 58 counties saw the rate of confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect go up. Statewide, more than 1 in 5 (22%) of Michigan children lived in poverty in 2015, a 15% rate increase since 2008, the last full year of the Great Recession.

“Although a slow recovery is ongoing across the United States, the severity of the recession in 2008 continues to afflict low-income people, especially close to home,” stated Janet Cocciarelli, Executive Director of The Pokagon Fund. “The Fund has put the alleviation of poverty in its service area as a key long-term strategic goal. Our focus isn’t just to aid the chronically poor. We are also strategizing how best to help the working poor, and the “new poor” – those individuals in Harbor Country who are now facing poverty due to the long record of unemployment or who struggle to raise a family on minimum wage. In Michigan, 62% of jobs pay less than $20 per hour, with two-thirds of those paying less than $15 per hour. It’s hard to get ahead if you aren’t earning a livable wage,” she added.

“When compared with the 2017 ALICE report recently released by the Michigan Association of United Ways, the statistics on need within Berrien County are daunting,” said Miss Cocciarelli.

ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed – households that earn more than the Federal Poverty Level, but less than the basic cost of living for the county (the ALICE Threshold, or AT). Combined, the number of poverty and ALICE households equals the total population struggling to afford basic needs, and consequently, are forced to make difficult choices such as skipping preventative health care, accredited child care or car insurance to pay for basic needs.

In Berrien County, there are a total of 64,279 households. Of that total, 37% fall within that category. The United Way ALICE Report uses standardized measurements to quantify the cost of a basic household budget in each Michigan county and to show how many households are struggling to afford it.

Miss Cocciarelli observed that, “the future doesn’t offer much hope if you believe the Bureau of Labor Statistics job projections for 2015 to 2024 for Michigan. According to the Bureau, 63% of new jobs will pay less than $15 per hour, and a mere 7% will require any work experience. With regards to education, 49% of new jobs will not require a high school diploma, 34% will require only a high school diploma, while 9% will require an associate degree or post-secondary non-degree award. Most surprisingly, only 9% will require a bachelor’s degree.”

Another factor contributing to instability of local households is the lack of liquid assets. Few families in Berrien County own liquid assets such as a savings account, 401(k) plan, or rental income that can be used to help cover unexpected expenses.

Of total Berrien County households in 2015, less than 30% owned liquid assets. In Harbor Country, families are struggling for economic viability including affordable housing, job opportunities and availability of community resources (defined as the percent of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool, percent of adults who vote, and total number of residents covered by health insurance).

To address these issues, advocates are demanding equal access to affordable child care, greater strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect, and governmental action to put more money in the pockets of ALICE families. Affirming the support of The Pokagon Fund for action to improve the lives of children and families in the areas served by the Fund, Cocciarelli stated that, “The Pokagon Fund is committed to partnering with local organizations to find long-term viable solutions.”

The Pokagon Fund is a non-profit, private foundation supported by revenue from the Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo, Michigan. The Fund’s mission is to enhance the lives of residents of Southwest Michigan through the financial support of projects aimed at supporting education, alleviating poverty and increasing community vitality.

What you can teach your grandchild about Social Security

One of the greatest gifts you can give a grandchild is the gift of financial literacy. Helping them save money early in life and showing them how to make wise spending decisions goes a long way toward a bright financial future. As they get older, they may want to save for special purchases or their college education. You can encourage them when they get their first job to begin saving for the future, including their retirement.

Planning for the future with my Social Security

When you celebrate their graduation from high school, you can also remind them to set up a my Social Security account. They need to be age 18 or older, have a U. S. mailing address and a valid email address, and have a Social Security number. Even though their retirement is many years away, you can explain the importance of reviewing their earnings record each year since Social Security uses the record of earnings to compute their future benefits. As they start their first major job and begin saving, they’ll be able to monitor the growth of the estimates of benefits available to them. You can access my Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Share how social security works

You can share your knowledge about Social Security with your young savers by explaining how the program works and how it has worked for you. About 96 percent of all Americans are covered by Social Security. Nearly all working people pay Social Security taxes and about 61 million receive monthly Social Security benefits. Encourage them to watch our Social Security 101 video at www.socialsecurity.gov/multimedia/webinars/social_security_101.html.

Share your retirement stories

Social Security replaces about 40 percent of an average worker’s income, but financial planners suggest that most retirees need about 70 percent to live comfortably in retirement. Americans need more than Social Security to achieve that comfortable retirement. They need private pensions, savings, and investments. That means starting to save early and monitoring your Social Security record for accuracy. The best place anyone of any age can visit for quick, easy information about Social Security is www.socialsecurity.gov.

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.

We will get there from here

 It is a beautiful morning as I sit enjoying the quiet breezes and warm sunlight that has followed last night’s storms.

Sometimes I open my Bible randomly to read. I did that this morning and opened to the last part of Zechariah in the Old Testament. Again I read about how things will be when the LORD of hosts, the King, sets up His rule on earth, how it will be with the great earthquake that raises Jerusalem, how it will be with the special plague that will affect both those who oppose Israel and their animals, their faces dissolving, their eyes and tongues rotting in place.

The new millennial meteorology is also described, with no rain for those who refuse to annually honor the King during the Feast of Booths. No rain, no crops, no food – deal with it. In the midst of all this, God’s holiness will be known and acknowledged universally. Zechariah paints quite a picture of the future – and we will get there from here.

That was the first passage I read after learning that a friend, John, had died the night before; I’m glad I read it. With such sad events as the death of those we love, we need to also remember the big picture, not forgetting how God’s promises are surer than the sunrise. God’s promises being secure, John is now with the Lord Who loved him all of his life and Who still loves him today. John put his faith and trust in Jesus Christ a few years ago, was “born again” to new life, receiving forgiveness of sins and eternal life. The place Jesus promised to prepare for John is now completed, and because God’s promises are sure, John will certainly get there from here.

BONUS ISSUE… Later this month we will publish the “Welcome to Summer” bonus issue of the Tri-City Record. More than 15,000 papers will be printed for free delivery to every postal patron in the Coloma, Hartford, and Watervliet school districts.

We call it our “bonus issue” because besides all the regular weekly features, there are stories that highlight the best our Tri-City Community has to offer. That includes all the hometown summer festivals and events, recreation on the lakes, parks, and downtowns, and many other attractions such as seasonal businesses like farm stands.

It is also a bonus issue because every advertiser receives a bonus of the extra printing and extra news items that helps to promote their own product.

I’m encouraging local businesses and organizations to take advantage of this bonus circulation issue and contact the Record to reserve ad space… call Amy, Mary Ann, or me at 463-6397 as soon as you can.

The date for the bonus issue is May 25, just in time for the Memorial weekend, the traditional opening of the summer season. The deadline to reserve ad space is May 19.

BLOSSOMTIME… Congratulations and thanks to all the wonderful youngsters involved on this weekend’s Blossomtime Parade. The parade caps the phenomenal Blossomtime week that highlights the entire Southwest Michigan region.

See the story on the front page for event details and information on the Tri-City representatives riding on the parade floats, including Miss Blossomtime Kaylee Chapin (Miss Watervliet) and Mr. Blossomtime Hunter Ackerman (Mr. Hartford).

Thanks as well to the families and friends of the Blossomtime royalty that spent a lot of time and money building the floats and helping the youngsters perform their royal duties.

BEST MOM… Mother’s Day is fast approaching. Take some time and pen a note to your mom thanking her for the gift of life and the daily sacrifices she made to bring you up to the person you are.

If you are so moved, share the note (letter) with the readers of the Tri-City Record by entering the Best Mom contest. See the details and the prizes you could win for your mom on page 8.

TOP HOSPITAL… Congratulations to the entire Lakeland HealthCare staff on making the Lakeland Hospital one of the top 15 in the nation.

You are the heart and heartbeat of the institution and it shows every day in your care and service. We are proud of you and our hospital.

Now that Lakeland Hospital has been named among the top hospitals in the U.S. the secret is out, our local hospital is one of the best. We already knew that, now everybody does.

MOTHER NATURE MUST BE CONFUSED…     Proofreader Laurie Kibler commented coming in to work Tuesday morning.

The wind was blowing hard, there was a misting rain and the temperature was 43 degrees; altogether a dismal day dawning for May 2; more like the fall instead of spring.

The past week of downpours left a lot of flooded fields and ditches. It also gave a boost to all the green leaves and buds. Hopefully the April showers are history and the May flowers are here to stay.

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