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Letters to the Editor
What you need to know for 07/25/2017

Disabled need places to live after their institutions are closed

Disabled need places to live after their institutions are closed

*Disabled need places to live after their institutions are closed *Institutions must adopt healthier

Disabled need places to live after their institutions are closed

In recent weeks there have been several articles praising the OPWDD [Office of People With Developmental Disabilities] for ultimately closing institutions like the O. D. Heck Center so individuals with developmental disabilities “can be removed from institutional settings and placed into a more real-life community residential environment.”

As parents of a young adult with a developmental disability who currently resides at home, we would absolutely love to find a placement within our community for him. We are not getting any younger and have always believed that such a placement would take place prior to our deaths so we could “tweak” the situation should it be needed.

What the various articles failed to mention was that the OPWDD is currently not granting any of the not-for-profit agencies any additional funds for any residential development. Instead, what is mentioned is that the OPWDD is still trying to create a “person-centered process” whereby future allocations of dollars would be based upon the “specific needs of every individual.”

As yet, however, this process is not in place and there are no homes available for non-institutionalized individuals currently.

While we firmly believe that persons with disabilities should not reside in institutions, we also believe that all individuals should be placed into community residential settings while their current parents or caregivers are still alive. Currently, we have been told by service providers that only individuals classified as “Category 1” are eligible for placement. This category basically means that the disabled individual is either otherwise homeless or a safety risk to him or herself.

Finally, if they are classified as a Category 1, they may be placed anywhere within the state that a residential opening exists, without any regard to proximity to family, friends, etc.

So, we would ask the OPWDD: What is your current plan for these individuals currently residing at home, and what are parents, family members and caregivers supposed to do?

Our guess is, they don’t have a plan. Where does that leave families such as us?

William and Terry Van Evera

Niskayuna

Institutions must adopt healthier food standards

Many Schenectady County residents receive meals from a variety of institutions that have nutritional standards, such as nursing homes, correctional facilities, senior meal programs, schools and after-school programs. Are the foods that are being consumed at these locations healthy?

By implementing the nutritional standards proposed by the state Council on Food Policy, it will ensure that those most vulnerable to chronic diseases are being provided quality, nutritious and healthy foods.

By adopting healthier food standards, agencies can model healthier food environments and can spark change in the current food system. As more agencies, governments and municipalities adopt these standards, the purchasing volume of healthier products increases. These large institutions create a greater demand for healthier food options. This will lead to a gradual shift in the type of foods that become available to the community, therefore making it easier to eat healthy.

When the cost of obesity in New York state is almost $12 billion, it is an important strategy for addressing this issue. By implementing the nutritional guidelines proposed by the state Council on Food Policy, we begin to take the necessary steps to prevent cancer and other chronic diseases. We owe it to the community to provide them with a healthier tomorrow.

Megan Latza

Schenectady

The writer is a nutrition educator for the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Schenectady County.

Martin, Emmett Till not a valid comparison

Re Rev. James D. McLeod Jr.’s July 28 letter on the death of Trayvon Martin:

If we are to have a discussion about race as a result of this tragedy, shouldn’t we look at the facts surrounding this case rather than taking a knee-jerk, emotional reaction comparing Trayvon Martin to Emmett Till?

Emmett Till was a young man brutally murdered for the sole offense of having flirted with a white woman in Mississippi in 1955. There was never any question that he was murdered, just for the fact of his skin color. To try to equate what led to the death of Trayvon Martin to that of Emmett Till, as the reverend and so many others have done since a jury acquitted George Zimmerman, is irresponsible and a miscarriage of the truth and history. No one witnessed what started the altercation that ended in Trayvon Martin’s death and there was no evidence presented that it was racially motivated.

It is just as prejudicial to ascribe motives to Mr. Zimmerman’s actions that are unsupported by evidence as it is to assume bias toward a person based on the color of their skin. To call the death of Mr. Martin “a modern-day lynching.” as many have done, is to make a leap in judgment that can’t be proven.

So why do so many, including the reverend, rush to these judgments? I think it simply illuminates their own prejudice. The fact that some people do continue to judge others by their skin color does not mean that every person does, or that Mr. Zimmerman did and that’s what led to Mr. Martin’s death.

This type of thinking is antithetical to Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that we would one day live in a society where all men would be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.

King’s dream was one for all to strive toward, not just whites. When any man judges another simply based on an inherent prejudice, that person has fallen short of Mr. King’s dream, which was informed by the teachings of Jesus, who said, “Judge not, lest you be judged.”

Jesus likewise told his followers to “take the log out of your own eye, before offering to help your neighbor remove the speck from his.” In other words, examine your own life before accusing your brother or sister of sin.

I’m sure the good reverend intended to make a positive contribution to the discussion about race relations, but unfortunately he has lowered the discourse by encouraging racial dissension.

Jim Fischer

Ballston Spa

Bringing cricket to school took work of several

While I certainly appreciate the kind recognition in the July 31 Gazette article of my efforts to promote youth cricket in Schenectady, I must proffer clarification regarding one of the facts.

The article purports that I “single-handedly” brought the game of cricket into Schenectady schools. Although I was the one who proposed the idea, there were many more people involved who helped make it happen.

First and foremost, there was my friend and teammate, Alton Brisport, who helped put on the in-service training programs we did for the physical education staff for the district and is always there for support when called on. There is Teresa Brown from Schenectady High School, who agreed to be the faculty adviser so the club could be formed several years ago. Tri-City Cricket Club members John Persaud, Anil Sahaman, Manesh Jagmohan, Maurice and Matthew Persaud and a host of others have given their time and effort to help coach the high school team, and continue to give encouragement and support.

These folks and a host of others deserve the credit as well. This award should be shared by all of us!

Thanks to the Gazette for recognizing the effort that everyone has put forth to promote cricket in Schenectady schools, and here’s hoping that some day, this great game will take its proper place in the pantheon of sporting options here in the United States.

Steve Weisse

Schenectady

The writer is president of the Tri-City Cricket Club.

Western Gateway Bridge work raises questions

While I appreciate the work being done on the Western Gateway Bridge, despite the temporary inconvenience, I have two comments.

First, I miss having a view of the river as I cross over — one of the joys of my daily commute; second, will there really be no barrier between the cars and pedestrians?

Yikes.

Shirley Morehouse

Scotia

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