Letters to the Editor for September 2008

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Insult to Youth

Regarding “The End of Youth?” article by Andrew Hahn: I do not think Mr. Hahn advances our cause with this kind of slanted and incendiary discussion. He displays his own prejudice against youth: “Who wants a 16-year-old fixing your air conditioning … .”

In other countries and cultures, a boy is a man when he starts taking on a man’s responsibilities. I have seen 14-year-old fathers in the Philippines who do a competent job because they have to. I ran sewing machine service calls all over the city of Columbus when I first turned 16. There is truth in the idea that “adolescence is a socially constructed phase of life.” That does not mean it should be banished, but let us recognize it for what it is. I am not saying Newt Gingrich is right: we should be taking an experimental approach – find out what works and duplicate it.

In one sense, we already have programs that allow for, even encourage youth, to grow up faster. Each of my children achieved college credits while still in high school that enabled them to graduate early or get double majors in the same time frame. And as far as pushing “drugs, sex and rock and roll into colleges and employment settings” – they are already there! Does Mr. Hahn really not know this?

I strenuously object to the name-calling. Did Gingrich call people “flaky liberals” or was that Mr. Hahn’s description? If he is going to accuse Gingrich of racism, where is the citation or quote that we can check on to see about the truth of the matter? This is unprofessional, “yellow journalism,” empty rhetoric.

John Reimers
Wheaton, Ill.
(The writer was a houseparent at what is now Sunny Ridge Family Center, based in Bolingbrook, Ill.)


Disaster Recovery

I somehow found the article on the center and the FEMA refusal. [See “When a Rec Center Floods, Federal Aid Dries Up”]

When Katrina hit, I was the Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Gulf Coast and have just recently retired. We lost all of our buildings and have been denied FEMA three times as nonessential services.

I, too, quoted the statutes that allow zoos and museums to receive funding, but to no avail. We actually opened for services to children and their families in temporary school sites within a month of the storm but have never received a dime of FEMA help. Actually, we are not a recreation center, but they found reasons to refuse.

I was recently invited to a forum with the GAO about the government working with nonprofits after Katrina and provided my stack of letters, refusals, and all documentation. The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Gulf Coast has moved on to other private sources to rebuild, but it continues to happen to others across the county.

Sue Reed
Former Executive Director
Boys and Girls Clubs
of the Gulf Coast
Gulfport, Miss.