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05-30-2019 Letters and Commentary

Looking for the area’s “Top Pop” for 2019 Father’s Day is Sunday, June 16, and some lucky Tri-City Area dad will be the happy recipient of many great gifts, compliments of the Tri-City Record and its advertisers. The winner of this year’s “Top Pop” contest will be selected by the staff of the Record from letters written to the paper during the contest period. Letters to the paper, nominating your “Top Pop,” should tell why he is the greatest. In 200 words or less, list some of the things he does to deserve the award; and be sure to include his name, your name, and your telephone number. Letter writer or nominee does not have to be a subscriber to enter. Send your letter to Tri-City Record, P.O. Box 7, Watervliet, MI 49098 or email record@tricityrecord.com. All letters will be published in the Record as close to Father’s Day as possible. The “Top Pop” will be selected from those letters after the 12:00 noon contest deadline on Friday, June 14, 2019. The writer of the winning letter will then be notified. Keep an eye out for prizes and complete contest rules in future issues of the Tri-City Record; and start working on that letter today!

The House is legislating, the Senate is obstructing Editor, Donald Trump recently claimed that the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives is “getting nothing done”. Like so much that Trump says, this is simply NOT TRUE! Since the Democrats took control in January, the House has passed 235 bills and resolutions. The bills passed by the House address a large number of important issues including: election security, ethics in government, disaster relief, retirement security, consumer financial protection, increasing veterans’ financial security, reducing veteran suicides, improving veteran’s health care, supporting veterans in STEM careers, increasing veterans’ access to child care, lowering prescription drug costs, protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions, child abuse prevention and treatment, preventing violence against women, enhancing background checks for gun purchases, improving homeland security at the local level, supporting NATO, rejecting white nationalism and white supremacy, combatting anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim discrimination, and protecting the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. In marked contrast to the vigorous legislative activity in the House, the Senate has been almost completely inactive. The Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and his Republican enablers, have refused to allow the vast majority of the bills passed by the House to be considered by the Senate. Instead of upholding their constitutionally mandated responsibilities, McConnell and the other Senate Republicans are undermining our democratic republic. It is the responsibility of both chambers of Congress to legislate. The House is doing so, the Senate is not. Our democracy is under attack by Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans. It is up to us to make sure that we can survive the assault and move forward in a positive direction. In 2020, we the voters can change the status quo by electing Democrats to the Senate and by electing a Democratic president. Sandy Feldman Lakeside

Therapeutic Equestrian Center named recipient of Make A Mark campaign The Therapeutic Equestrian Center (TEC) has been named the recipient of the Make A Mark campaign sponsored by Holt Bosse. Make A Mark provides up to $50,000 of donated marketing services annually to an area nonprofit. TEC is the second organization to receive this honor. In 2018, Holt Bosse selected Mosaic CCDA as their inaugural recipient. “Since our inception we’ve helped area nonprofits with marketing projects here and there,” said Patrick Bosse, Co-President and Strategic Director for Holt Bosse. “A few years ago, we decided it would be more helpful if we teamed up with one nonprofit annually and provided them with a larger budget of time and resources.” Holt Bosse is a full-service marketing agency based in St. Joseph. The agency opened in 2014 and today has more than 100 years of combined marketing experience. The Make A Mark campaign was launched in 2018. The campaign was a company-wide initiative which allows the entire team to review applicants and vote on the recipient. The winning nonprofit receives the equivalent of up to $50,000 of marketing talent and time from the agency’s team. Any outside marketing expenses such as print cost, ad space, or air time is at the expense of the recipient. “We are beyond thrilled, this is an incredible opportunity for us,” shared Autumn Zick, Board President and Instructor for Therapeutic Equestrian Center. “Like most volunteer-run organizations, it’s a challenge to find marketing talent and resources to help us spread the word about our organization, this is definitely going to help us make a mark!” Members of TEC have already begun working with the Holt Bosse team. Items being considered for the project include the creation of marketing templates for flyers and communications, audience-specific brochures, print ads, and radio spots. The agency will present an overview of the projects with estimated costs. If costs exceed $50,000, TEC will then prioritize the projects to work within the allotted budget. Since 2006, TEC has been making “I Did It!” moments happen. TEC is a nonprofit service organization that provides year-round, horse-related activities and therapeutic riding to people living with special needs. All programs at TEC are designed to help participants find hope, reach beyond their expectations, and discover unlimited possibilities. This is done by engaging the power of horses to challenge, inspire, and strengthen participants’ bodies, minds, and spirits. TEC is open to residents young and old living with special needs in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties. There is also a dedicated program for veterans, active members of the military, and their families. To learn more about TEC, visit www.tecfarm.org.

5th annual Mini Maker Faire coming to Southwest Michigan Featuring special guest performers from Cirque Amongus The fifth annual Mini Maker Faire in Southwest Michigan will be held at Whirlpool Centennial Park (330 Broad Street) in St. Joseph on Saturday, June 1. The event will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be a day of family-friendly making, learning, crafting, inventing and tinkering below the bluff in downtown St. Joseph. Be inspired by makers, designers, artists, crafters, engineers, scientists and technologists from across our region. Entry is free to all and there will be many opportunities to get hands on and make “stuff”! This year’s special guest is Cirque Amongus. The troop will provide a surprising combination of comedy, circus skills and audience participation throughout the event. This year, the Maker Faire is extending the celebration with a variety of kick-off events on Friday, May 31. Activities include 5th Annual Mini Maker Faire Preview Show on the Bluff. Select makers will showcase projects including Go Baby Go car hack with a local FIRST robotics team, local middle school students sharing their Micro:Bit programming skills, and Cirque Amongus showcasing talents and more! Also on Friday evening will be Southwest Michigan’s First Ever Lighted Drone Show. The show will begin at sunset. The 15 minute show will be taking off and landing from the Whirlpool Centennial Fountain. Made It Event at the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center is on Friday, May 31 with Soulard’s Bakery. This is a ticketed event ($40). Tickets can be purchased at www.soulardscoloma.com. In addition, Pete Souza Gallery Opening is Friday at the Krasl Art Center. This exhibition is free to the public. Visit www.krasl.org for more information.

No prayer, no power Those in pastoral roles sometimes visit people in the hospital. Often during those visits prayer is offered. I’ve noticed that it doesn’t matter what the person’s spiritual perspective, a church attendee or not, whatever the denomination, Baptist, Episcopal, Catholic, United Methodist, you name it, or even no denomination, independent of age or gender, everyone accepts prayer. Why is that? Could it be that people universally accept, deep down, that there is a God who listens and who cares? Around the 1960s churches began to “Professionalize”. That “P” gradually replaced the “P” of Prayer. Churches wanted to be culturally popular, so they gradually, without realizing it, bartered away another “P” – Power. By abandoning the Prayer Meeting churches demonstrated more reliance upon programs than dependence upon God. Ultimately, the people are not fooled. It would not be uncommon to hear a pastor say, “We pray at all our meetings anyway.” But often those token prayers are no more focused, no more powerful than “Now I lay me down to sleep” or “Bless this food”. When the prayer focus is lost, the God focus is lost. Churches unwittingly succumb to secular humanism. The worship of man replaces the worship of God. So how’s that working out for us? What good is a church that only offers what the world offers, on the world’s terms? Deep down most people know there is a God who listens and cares – and who is able to help, both right now and for eternity. Do we hide that God from them, camouflaging Him, buried beneath our “Programs”? No prayer, no power – and no reason to exist. Franklin Graham has called for a Day of Prayer, Sunday June 2, for our political leadership, specifically for Donald Trump. Whatever our political “denomination”, 1 Timothy 2:1, 2 instructs us to pray for our leaders. The President needs our prayer. May we unite in this at least.

Connect with Social Security on social media We strive to keep you informed with accurate and helpful information. Over the last decade, Social Security’s communications strategy has evolved to include electronic messages, through our social media channels. You can share Social Security information, including links to our online tools, with a click of a button. Using Facebook, we reach millions of people on a platform they’re familiar with and comfortable navigating. We can cross generational divides as we encourage users to share their personal experiences with Social Security programs, such as disability, survivors, and retirement benefits. You can follow us and repost our articles at www.facebook.com/socialsecurity. Our newest social media outlet is our Instagram account. As we do on Facebook, we share stories and resources that can help you and your loved ones. Check out our new Instagram page at www.Instagram.com/SocialSecurity. Have you seen us on YouTube? Our diverse collection of videos covers veterans’ benefits, online services, retirement, Social Security scams, and much more. We also offer more in-depth instructions about filing disability claims. Some of our videos are in Spanish as well. You can view and easily share our videos at www.youtube.com/SocialSecurity. Twitter is another powerful tool we use to keep people informed. We use it to announce new “my Social Security” features and other service or program changes. You can join our many followers at www.twitter.com/socialsecurity. Check out our blog, Social Security Matters. You can subscribe and read up-to-date columns about programs, policy, and people like you who are helped by Social Security every day. Read more at blog.socialsecurity.gov. Connecting with us on social media helps you share important information and knowledge with the people you care about. Follow along and share our pages with someone who you want to positively affect today. See all of our social media channels at www.socialsecurity.gov/socialmedia. 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.

PLEASE GOD I’M ONLY 17… Right on the heel of our national holiday to honor our war dead, Memorial Day, is Graduation Day. Graduation Day that we all think of is high school graduation. That is the day that our children just the day before were high schoolers. At the close of the commencement ceremony, the new graduates that night are turned loose on the world. Sadly for way too many, that happy day will also be their last. I always had a problem with the word commencement. I know it means “to commence”, to start, to begin. Even so, when I hear the word commence in the context of graduation, it means the end of 12 years of school. Sadly, it also means the end of thousands of new graduates’ lives. One dead grad is bad enough… I really don’t have a clue how many died, but all our statistics and warnings, law enforcement, incubation, peer pressure, whatever, take your pick… didn’t save the lives of those who died. For as smart as our darling graduates are, they are stupid when it comes to saving their own lives; they crash cars, binge drink, overdose, fall off boats and piers, sit on train tracks, fall out of trees, text and drive and so on. When to driving under the influence of booze or drugs, or both, they triple their chances of not seeing their first full day as a graduate. Good luck if you think the designated driver will save your graduate. Drunken drug users only hang out with drunken drug users. The designated driver, volunteered for the job; by last call that designated driver is just as drunk as the passengers he or she has been entrusted with. It’s not a pretty picture; however you want to paint it. I’ve had parents say they only allow their kids (and friends) to drink at their own house. How are those other kids going to get home? Some folks believe their youngster is mature enough to cope with underage drinking. Others buy the beer or whatever and admonish their graduates to “stay safe”. Nearly forty years ago, my first accident story was of a group of kids that couldn’t make the senior trip, just a couple weeks before graduation. How they got the beer, ended up head-on to a grain truck at 50 miles an hour or even why they were even there at 2 a.m. at all was never found out. The five were burned to death before the fire was put out. A Hartford citizen dropped off a clipping of a nationally syndicated newspaper column called “Dear Abby” published in March 1990. A reader of that column Please God I’m only 17 related how it was on the opposite page of her son’s obituary. He had been drinking and driving and was killed in an accident.

Please God, I’m only 17… The day I died was an ordinary school day. How I wish I had taken the bus! But I was too cool for the bus. I remember how I wheedled the car out of Mom. ‘’Special favor,’’ I pleaded. ‘’All the kids drive.’’ When the 2:50 p.m. bell rang, I threw my books in the locker… free until tomorrow morning! I ran to the parking lot, excited at the thought of driving a car and being my own boss. Free! It doesn’t matter how the accident happened. I was goofing off – going too fast, taking crazy chances. But I was enjoying my freedom and having fun. The last thing I remember was passing an old lady who seemed to be going awfully slow. I heard a crash and felt a terrific jolt. Glass and steel flew everywhere. My whole body seemed to be turning inside out. I heard myself scream. Suddenly, I awakened. It was very quiet. A police officer was standing over me. I saw a doctor. My body was mangled. I was saturated with blood. Pieces of jagged glass were sticking out all over; strange that I couldn’t feel anything. Hey, don’t pull that sheet over my head. I can’t be dead. I’m only 17. I’ve got a date tonight. I’m supposed to have a wonderful life ahead of me. I haven’t lived yet. I can’t be dead. Later I was placed in a drawer. My folks came to identify me. Why did they have to see me like this? Why did I have to look at Mom’s eyes when she faced the most terrible ordeal of her life? Dad suddenly looked very old. He told the man in charge, ‘’Yes, he’s our son.’’ The funeral was weird. I saw all my relatives and friends walk toward the casket. They looked at me with the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen. Some of my buddies were crying. A few of the girls touched my hand and sobbed as they walked by. Please somebody – wake me up! Get me out of here! I can’t bear to see Mom and Dad in such pain. My grandparents are so weak from grief they can barely walk. My brother and sister are like zombies. They move like robots. In a daze, everybody. No one can believe this. I can’t believe it, either. Please don’t bury me! I’m not dead! I have a lot of living to do! I want to laugh and run again. I want to sing and dance. Please don’t put me in the ground! I promise if you give me just one more chance, God, I’ll be the most careful driver in the whole world. All I want is one more chance!

The column is timeless; the lament of the dead graduate is also a parent’s plea for their dead child to get another chance. I hope such a thing never happens to you, your kids, their kids and every graduate that takes that walk to the strings of Pomp and Circumstance. For some the music of joy changes to the dirges of grief.

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