Thursday, June 13, 2013: Immigration, volunteerism and general assistance

Posted June 12, 2013, at 12:41 p.m.

Become one people

This country was formed by the broadly supported belief that everyone should have the same rights and opportunities regardless of national origin, color, wealth, education, sex or sexual orientation. I believe our current immigration system betrays this vision, is outdated and widely disrespected.

Americans-in-waiting are working hard, paying taxes and contributing to our communities, contrary to public beliefs. Yet, they are denied basic rights of decent wages, security, respect, health care and affordable housing which many Americans receive.

Change is overdue, and an immigration bill currently in Congress is a chance. We need to create a way for all individuals to work toward citizenship while guaranteeing fair entrance in the future.

This nation needs to streamline the process for immigrants. Questioning or limiting the democratic rights of anyone limits them for everyone. We need legislators to vote for reform with a road map for our yearning neighbors, which will bring them closer to our core beliefs.

We will be strengthened by this wholesome change. If any reform is comprehensive enough, certainty will be achieved, which leads to acceptance. Additionally, certainty will allow us all to finally relax and be civil to one another.

I dream of one future day where Mexican and Canadian borders will be abolished, and we together become one people sans hatred and unrest. It will take desire and invitation on our part. Theirs will be acceptance, which means peace and celebration.

Paul Sylvain

Skowhegan

Parental neglect

On June 6, the BDN published an article titled, “ Old Town middle school student denied lunch because parent owed bill.” A mom was angry and blamed the school.

Perhaps the article should have been titled, “Preteen goes hungry due to parent’s negligence to pay the school lunch bill.” To avoid hunger and embarrassment in the future, perhaps the child could prepare a lunch from home in case his parents are neglectful again.

Pat Martin

Bangor

A needed program

Many older Mainers are struggling with the rising costs of food, health care and basic, everyday expenses. Imagine not having money to heat a home in the winter. Imagine having to choose between food and life-saving medication.

The Low Cost Drugs for the Elderly and Disabled Program helps pay for prescription drugs for low-income Mainers who are 62-years-old or older and not yet eligible for Medicare. The proposed elimination of this program to help balance Maine’s budget will be nothing short of devastating to the thousands of individuals who participate in it. The state has alternatives. At-risk seniors and the disabled do not.

To suggest that beneficiaries can get their prescription drugs cheaply at national pharmacy chains, hospitals or through discounts from the pharmaceutical companies themselves is short-sighted. First of all, not every brand-name drug has a generic equivalent for a lower cost, and while it might be possible to get a limited supply of a drug directly from the pharmaceutical company, this is not a sustainable option. Our most vulnerable residents need a sustainable solution that makes sense. They need this program.

While I recognize the need for a balanced budget, eliminating prescription drug coverage for at-risk elderly people is not the best way to save money. Individuals in this program have nothing to spare. In fact, eliminating it could force many who are in the program into institutional care — a much more expensive outcome for the state.

 

Priscilla Parisien, AARP Maine Executive Council

Portland

Seat warmers

When we first started the Four Corners Park project in Madawaska, we had lots of meetings. Some 43 people attended at one point and signed up to help with the project. However only 10 or so ever showed up to volunteer.

The rest of the so-called volunteers apparently just wanted to have their say and give their input in front of huge crowds, as if that was sufficient community participation.

We, the people of Madawaska and the outlying areas, say we want to make a difference, but none of us will do anything worthwhile by just warming a seat at a meeting.

Let’s get the job done. We can bring in tourism with showpiece attractions. The park flowers need watering and weeding; the grass needs cutting; the sheds need painting and the pavers need installing.

Here’s an example we’re particularly proud of: An electrician came to the park to help one day. He just showed up and volunteered. He did the electrical work that had to be done and helped mixed 20 pound bags of cement by hand for a project.

That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Just being the sort of person who cares, who shows that his words are guaranteed by his deeds. The park belongs to us and our families for our use and enjoyment. Why not put in a couple hours to make it even better?

If anyone would like to volunteer, call 436-7451. Volunteers will find it’s worthwhile — and more fun than warming a seat at a meeting.

Joe LaChance, president, Madawaska Four Corners Park Association

Madawaska

General assistance access

I’ve talked with some families recently who are struggling financially and are worried that general assistance will no longer be available if they are confronted with an emergency and have exhausted all other resources.

In one family with three children, the father is working, and the mother stays home with their toddler who has severe allergies and asthma. She’s tried to work but has not been able to find affordable, safe child care. They were getting help from Temporary Assistance to Needy Families because they couldn’t make ends meet no matter how hard they tried. Recently, though, TANF informed them that their assistance would end because of new time limit rules.

If the governor has his way, he will also not allow families who have reached the TANF time limit to get help from general assistance. What sense does that make?

What happens if an emergency arises — like a costly car repair? When they’ve exhausted all other resources, including relatives, who will help so dad can get to work and mom can take her children to the doctor’s? Without help, families will sink further into poverty and ultimately will need even more costly services. Not a very hopeful future for struggling families, nor wise financial planning by the state.

Help from general assistance can prevent one short-term problem from turning into the disaster of job loss, hospitalization or homelessness. Lawmakers should make sure that all families continue to have access to this program.

Chris Rusnov

Winslow

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/06/12/opinion/letters/thursday-june-13-2013-immigration-volunteerism-and-general-assistance/ printed on October 31, 2014