Speer: Sad news for opposite age groups
Political decisions, especially those involving money, will eventually be felt by all of us. Some of those decisions, such as local water rates, would be felt immediately. Others, like federal sequestration decisions, take a bit longer to filter through the layers of bureaucracy.
Area Meals of Wheels programs are finding out right now that federal cuts through sequestration are forcing administrators to make tough decisions. In Alpena County, for instance, the loss of revenue is projected to be $10,000. In programs the size of those in Northeast Michigan, that will impact a lot of meals.
The meals provide a nutritionally sound alternatives to many seniors, who otherwise might have opted for something much less filling, cold, or who might not have ate anything at all.
Regardless of your political bent, whether you’re conservative or liberal, the impact to a program like Meals on Wheels has to be disturbing. Seniors deserve our respect, and those who participate in the program do so because of life’s circumstances, not just because it’s an opportunity for a warm meal.
Meals on Wheels administrators have done a good job over the years of rubbing nickels together to make quarters, and I expect they’ll be equally as creative these days in meeting the newest challenge.
In Alpena County today, for example, a Jail and Bail fundraiser will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Perch’s IGA and Walmart parking lots, and Monday from 11 a.m-12 p.m. and 1-2 p.m. at the Alpena Senior Citizen Center.
Unfortunately, it is probably going to take these kinds of fundraising efforts to keep the same level of commitment going in each of the programs across the region.
Equally as disturbing this week was news that in the Alpena Montmorency Alcona Educational School District there are estimated to be 219 homeless children. That is alarming, for it presents a whole new set of educational challenges to students and teachers.
While most of these students are not the stereotypical homeless person you might picture sleeping on a sidewalk, they still are youth who don’t have a permanent roof over their heads. More than likely they’re living at a friend’s home, another relative’s home, or some, out of a vehicle.
Regardless, without a permanent sense of “home” these students would have a hard time feeling “grounded” and, I suspect, would have difficulties feeling secure and focused while at school. Their needs would be unique, challenging and, because of circumstances, hard to immediately identify.
Two different age groups. Two different needs and challenges. Still, we as a region, should have but one focus – to meet the needs of these groups who need our assistance right now.
Anything short of that and I think we’d all be disappointed in ourselves.