Family of fire victim is grateful for caring
On March 6, we lost our youngest daughter, Berenices Suarez, in the devastating fire at Jay Street in Schenectady, where she had been living for the last few years.
We live in Amsterdam and spent two weeks at the site until finally our daughter was found. The pain of such an ordeal can never be expressed, especially since we lost her sister, Frances, to cancer only nine years ago. Her boyfriend, Jermaine Allen, also died in the fire.
The reporters at The Daily Gazette did a wonderful job regarding the coverage of the fire, as well as the article regarding our daughter and her boyfriend and the pets that were found.
In the first picture of the fire, our friends have pointed out that the clouds of smoke above the building look like a large angel watching over the building. The red flames coming our of the 4th and 5th floor windows look like angels with their arms in the air. How becoming that we have these images to help us through this.
We wish to express our gratitude and appreciation to relatives and friends, her coworkers, my employers and coworkers, for each one of you has helped us in some way, as well as those who donated on the GoFundMe site.
Sincere thanks to the police, firemen in Schenectady, the staff at Ellis Hospital, the staff at Betz, Rossi, Bellinger & Stewart Funeral Home for bringing our baby home and the Rev. Lawrence Decker for the beautiful mass at St. Mary’s church in Amsterdam.
Our condolences to the families of those lost in the fire. Hopefully, the other residents will be able to recover, as well as the people with businesses that have lost some of their livelihood, since many were impacted by this tragedy.
God bless you all.
About time Ballston Spa had food market
I finally had time to drive to WalMart — saved some money.
If it was a Price Chopper or a Hannaford wanting to open, I don’t think it would be opposed.
Ballston Spa needs a food market. How many more years do we have to wait? Other towns do it. Why can’t we figure it out and have a place to shop?
Ensure nursing home funding is adequate
I am writing in response to the March 26 article concerning Baptist Health Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and the possible unionization of its workers.
After a stay in Ellis Hospital, my mother spent time in rehabilitation at the Baptist Center. Her care was first-rate, and in little time she was on her feet again. Since it was determined that she could no longer live alone, my mother made an easy transition to H1 at the Baptist Center, where she has been living for two-and-a-half years.
Over the past 25 years, I have had the opportunity to visit congregants in most of the nursing homes in the area. I have always thought that the Baptist Center was among the best. The care that my mother is getting has only reinforced my opinion.
I have witnessed how diligently the staff cares for each resident and I understand that it takes hard work day in and day out. All the nursing homes I visit seem to have the same problem of financial cutbacks, resulting in fewer staff for the same amount of work. This is mainly due to federal and state government budget cuts. As a community, we need to decide if caring for the elderly is a value we will support.
I wish that unionization of the workers could solve these financial problems. However, I believe the solution lies within the heart of each of us. Let’s let our elected officials know that we are willing to put our tax money where our hearts are and restore funding to care for our oldest citizens — that is, if our hearts are truly there.
James R. McDonald
The writer is pastor of Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church.
Think outside box to solve retention issue
Re April 5 article, “Fail a grade in Schenectady? No, you don’t”: In response to Superintendent Laurence Spring and the Schenectady Board of Education’s decision to utilize social promotion as a means of replacing retention, it is a double-edge sword.
The failure of a student to learn a grade’s requirements can compound each year and may result in the student’s inability to handle challenging material and to be successful at the upper levels of education. A failure to achieve a grade level, to be retained, and to be in a younger environment can cause further feelings of inadequacy.
A solution that might be considered is a non-graded classroom where several levels of a subject are taught. The achievement or lack of achievement could be judged by accomplishment and success at each level. The student would then be able to progress at his own learning speed and style while being in a classroom of his peers. The teaching program could involve individual or team teaching.
In conclusion, it is possible to find an educational path that is between social promotion and retention. It will take time and effort, as well as looking beyond the box.
Good luck, Schenectady schools.
Bill would set nursing home staff minimums
Right now there are nursing home residents in the Schenectady/Albany/Troy area calling for help they will not get — or not get in time — because nursing home owners and operators are not willing to hire sufficient number of nurses and certified nursing assistants to care for them.
The reason? Our state regulates the ratio of staff to children in child day care centers, but does nothing about ratio of nurses and nursing assistants to nursing home residents. Instead, New York lets nursing homes decide for themselves how much staff they assign. As a result, many homes are woefully understaffed, and residents can develop painful pressure ulcers (bed sores), suffer from dehydration or malnutrition, suffer fractures due to lack of assistance, and even die.
Studies show a connection between staffing levels and quality. A federal government study has determined that nursing home residents must receive at least 4.1 hours of nursing care per day in order to avoid bad outcomes like the ones noted above.
When nursing homes do not staff adequately, residents are at risk. Safe staffing saves lives — the lives of your parents, of your spouse or even your own life. New York nursing home residents deserve to get the care they need when they need it.
You can help make this happen by asking your Assembly member and state senator to support A1548-S0782, a bill that would require a minimum staffing standard of at least 4.1 hours a day in all New York state nursing homes. For more information, go to http://www.nysenior.org.
Mary D’Ercole Pritchard
The writer is a New York State Senior Action Program board member and a long-term care ombudsman.
Thanks to Niskayuna highway department
As someone who has lived in Niskayuna for nearly 43 years, I am pleased to say a big “thank you” to the town highway department.
As everyone knows, this was a challenging winter from many aspects. The plows had a lot of work to do and in the process, a lot of blacktop was torn up around the edges of lawns and driveways. We were wondering how we would get it all cleaned up.
This past Monday [April 6], the highway department crew came along and carefully raked up all the plow tailings and removed them from the lawn edges. This was very much appreciated by my husband and me, and I’m sure, by all the neighbors. Thank you so much.
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