06-18-2020 Letters and Commentary

The wall is still there We got the wagon and again headed up the street. It was time to get some more rocks. We kids would help dad collect the stones needed for building the walls. There were actually two walls. The one the length of the driveway, about thirty inches high, and the one at the rear of the driveway, about six feet tall. The tall wall defined the backyard area and allowed us to fill in dirt behind it to flatten out the raised back yard. Each wall incorporated poured concrete steps with anchored iron handrails. Having done some complicated projects myself since then, I realize how careful the planning needed to be for such a project as this. But right now, it was time to collect some more rocks. Foundation rocks were huge. They would become part of the wider, solid concrete footing upon which the rest of the wall would be built. All of the cement for the wall was hand-mixed. Two-parts cement, one-part sand, as I remember. As I remember. An interesting phrase. I remember learning from dad not to be afraid of hard work, even when it’s a hot, humid Philadelphia summer day. I remember that there are time limits for concrete, and it’s important to clean your tools when you’re done. I remember that when you’re careful you don’t smash your fingers between rocks, and when you’re not, you do. And I learned it only hurts for a little while. That was 60 years ago, and if I look on Google Earth at our old house in Northeast Philly today, those walls are still there. I learned that if you do it right, it lasts. Dad taught me by showing me. We didn’t talk a whole lot, but I watched. And I learned a lot of valuable stuff without even realizing it at the time. I still appreciate that.

Access “my Social Security” from your home With so many services available online through “my Social Security”, signing up for a secure account will help you conduct Social Security business from home. With your personal “my Social Security” account, you can: Estimate your future benefits with our Retirement Calculator to compare different dates or ages to begin receiving benefits; check the status of your Social Security application; review your work history; and request a replacement Social Security card (in most States). If you already receive benefits, you can also: Get a benefit verification or proof of income letter; set up or change your direct deposit; change your address; request a replacement Medicarecard; and get a Social Security 1099 form (SSA-1099). You can even use your personal “my Social Security” account to opt out of receiving certain notices by mail, such as the annual cost-of-living adjustments and the income-related monthly adjustment amount notice. Instead, through the Message Center you can receive secure, sensitive communications. Let your friends and family know that they can create a “my Social Security” account today at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. Vonda Van Til 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.

Hearing and vision screenings School may be out for the summer in Berrien County, but it’s never too early to start thinking about making sure children are ready to learn next school year. Recent studies have found that undiagnosed and untreated vision and hearing issues in children are associated with significantly worse early literacy scores and other learning challenges. Children with undiagnosed hearing or vision problems will often have trouble learning to read, write, or even struggle to follow instructions. To avoid any potential learning problems, parents of children ages 3-1/2 or older with children entering preschool or kindergarten this coming fall are encouraged to attend free hearing and vision screenings throughout this summer so that there will be enough time to receive treatment, if necessary, before school starts. Not only will the screening identify issues with a child’s hearing and vision, but Michigan State Law also requires that all children entering kindergarten must have their hearing and vision tested before the first day of school. “Because children have nothing to compare their hearing and vision to, they may have problems with their eyes or ears and never even know it,” says Dawn Mitchell, Hearing and Vision Coordinator for the Berrien County Health Department. “This makes early detection of these problems so important.” Due to COVID-19, the free hearing and vision screenings are being offered by appointment only at this time. Additional information regarding the Michigan hearing and vision screening requirements and a full schedule of preschool / kindergarten screening dates, are available at the Berrien County Health Department website at www.bchdmi.org and Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bchdmi.