Foster parents give kids a fresh start; Thanks for helping to stamp out hunger; UAW members are American workers; Apply idealism to elitist America

Foster parents give kids a fresh start

I want to raise a shout-out to foster parents because May is Foster Care Month.

As a foster parent recruiter with Community Works' Treatment Foster Care Program, my particular concern is for youth at risk for learning disabilities, alcohol and drug addiction, physical and emotional abuse and incarceration. We work with teens who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect, and we place them in safe, stable and supportive families where they can heal and mature.

People who become foster parents for these kids take on youth with high, intense needs. It's a difficult job, and they do it with love, humor, stubborn perseverance and satisfaction in the day-by-day difference they are making in young lives. Fortunately, when they work with an agency like Community Works, these volunteer parents also get the daily collaboration of professional therapists and teachers who provide mental health treatment and education to the youth and continuous training and on-call support for the foster families.

So, a heartfelt thank you to all the foster parents out there! You are giving kids the chance for a fresh start at a healthy and satisfying life every day.

Caren Caldwell

Ashland

Thanks for helping to stamp out hunger

It was a beautiful day, with a soft breeze — perfect for the Letter Carriers' Drive: Stamp Out Hunger. More than 100 volunteers waited for the first truck to arrive and arrive they did. Each truck contained hundreds of pounds of food given to the letter carriers by the thoughtful people on their route. This year the Ashland Emergency Food Bank received more than 17,000 pounds from the great community of Ashland. Our shelves are bulging from these generous donations. We received enough food to provide an emergency supply of food to more than 900 children and adults who live in Ashland or Talent.

And to anyone who needs food, the Ashland Emergency Food Bank is open Monday through Friday and the first Saturday of the month from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Please bring identification showing you live in either Ashland or Talent. We are here for you.

We would like to thank the students at the Ashland Institute of Massage, who provided free back massages to our volunteers and postal workers. It was a highlight of the day.

And, lastly, a special thanks to our postal workers. They worked very hard collecting food from each mail box, along with delivering mail on one of the busiest days of the year, the day before Mother's Day. We so appreciate your dedication to feeding the hungry. And, again, a heartfelt thank you to all of Ashland for their participation.

Ann Marie Hutson

President of the AEFB Board of Directors

UAW members are American workers

Michael Barone's column berated the UAW as the undeserving recipient of protection in the Chrysler and GM bankruptcies (see May 8 column "White House puts UAW ahead of property rights"). Barone said that "property rights" should trump those of the UAW.

The UAW is not some faceless group of profiteers with no interest in the livelihood of these moribund carmakers. The UAW isn't some artificial being (like a corporation). No. The UAW is the organization (union) that represents the workers who build the cars, the tens of thousands of Americans who make decent wages sufficient to raise a family, pay taxes, send their kids to school and help their elderly parents. These are human beings, not obsolete tools or equipment. They want to own a home, drive a car, take a vacation, avoid bankruptcy when family members get sick, and live a retirement with dignity.

Naysayers like Barone demonize "the unions" when he's actually talking about the flesh-and-blood people who have given America the lifestyle that is the American way.

So, back-off this UAW fuzzy-talk. It's the workers, the men and women represented by unions like the UAW, who got "concessions" like the eight-hour day, paid vacations, sick leave, health care and retirement. Speak the truth; call the workers what and who they are. They're Americans, just like you and me.

Bruce Barnes

Ashland

Apply idealism to elitist America

I am writing to alert my fellow Ashlanders of the human rights violations and barbaric conditions in the Jackson County jail. As of a year ago, the last time I visited the facility, there was widespread malnutrition, verbal and physical abuse by guards, and denial of fundamental legal rights. Many Ashlanders like to talk about abstract environmentalism and inhumanity in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.

But few listened when in "An Ode to Id" I condemned the first bombs to fall on Baghdad, or to my letter against Ashland's salmon-killing Christmas lights, or my last letter on the jail.

Ashlanders need to apply their idealism to elitist aspects of American culture: Prisoners of the GOP's fascist drug war deserve the Geneva protections too.

Sean L. Nelson

Ashland