Readers Respond

READERS RESPOND

August 21, 2009

Social services should be applauded, not shunned

I really appreciated the thoughtful article about the 'Beans and Bread' controversy in Fells Point. As an eight-year resident of the neighborhood I am aware of the tensions that exist between the various community demographics. (particularly the homeless community) I think we all want to live in a safe, healthy environment. Anything that threatens our sense of security is a concern to the community. However, I think you asked the core question in your article: "The homeless aren't about to go away. What's the downside to getting the line off the sidewalk, helping people clean up and getting them services that could get some off the streets?"

These are tough economic times. It can be expected that the number of poor and homeless will grow and the impact will expand far beyond the inner city of Baltimore. If every church, synagogue, mosque, school and community outreach center tried as hard as 'Beans and Bread' to serve the homeless - it would become one more thing that we, as a nation, work to solve and "not in my back yard" would be a thing of the past.

Mollie Fein, Fells Point

Beans and Bread is good for the community, residents, city

Thank you for your support of the Beans and Bread expansion at Bank and Bond streets in Southeast Baltimore, As a resident of Fells Point, I am proud that Beans and Bread has been providing much needed services for the past seventeen years.

The proposed expansion is a more efficient and sensitive way to meet basic human needs of nearby residents - food, nutrition, a shower, work assistance and many helpful referrals. It is a positive way to use an abandoned building to meet a social need. Numbers will not increase but quality of services will. This is something that should be welcomed.

What is best for a community is not determined by individual needs but by the community as a whole. The Beans and Bread expansion is good for the community, its residents and the city.

Suzanne Bailey, Baltimore

For many, not enrolling in Medicare is not an option

On the opinion page of Monday's Carroll County Times is a cartoon that shows a senior holding a sign that reads "No to Govt. run health plan", and next to it the same senior holding a sign that reads;" Don't touch my Medicare". This is just another attempt by liberals to paint the average American as being dumb. Medicare is not the plan that everyone jumps into. First when you reach age 65 you have very little choice to go into this plan.

Let me explain, if you already have health insurance and you elect not to take the Medicare option (government option) your insurance company will not pay for the portion that Medicare would have covered, even though you have paid the full premium due. You have to pay the difference out of pocket. If you elect to reapply for the Medicare option you have to pay a penalty for not enrolling when you turned 65 or, became disabled. This penalty is an increase in the premium that the government with holds from your social security checks to pay for health care (Medicare).

Of course the current argument by the White House is that if you like your insurance you can keep your insurance, It will be just like Medicare, employers will drop you, no insurance, or the insurance companies will disappear. Washington is not and will not listen to the citizens of this country.

If you want real change then vote all the politicians out, press for term limits, and the maybe we can put this country back on track.

Charles Laster, Westminster

Closing achievement gap must be community effort

If Americans are serious about closing the achievement gap, we need to expand our ways of thinking about community. Currently, policy work and community activism center around solving the social problems of 'dysfunctional' communities, or communities with the outward signs of poverty, neglect, crime, and violence. For example, the current logic says that if a community has a significant number of boarded up houses, those houses need to be torn down, or re-habbed, or replaced by a viable substitute such as mixed-use development. In the case of East Baltimore Development Inc., their "New Eastside" aspires to be a "vibrant, mixed-income community," which includes an education initiative of a new community school, and the "economic engine" of a Johns Hopkins Science and Technology Park. In its ideal form, the current mind set identifies problems and allocates resources to solve those problems to 'dysfunctional' communities. No jobs? Let's create jobs. Not enough 'highly qualified' teachers? Let's bring them in. I am even a product of this mind set, moving to Baltimore from California to teach in the city schools through the Baltimore City Teaching Residency.

I suggest that we need a broader approach. We will not close the achievement gap until America as a whole understands that as long as any 'dysfunctional' community exists, our entire social ecosystem is 'dysfunctional.'

The broader approach needs to see the achievement gap as an issue not simply of schools failing to educate students, but also of economic, public health, and community safety failures. Until ALL Americans confront how racism, classism, and segregation have contributed to the achievement gap, we will not close it, and America as a whole will remain a 'dysfunctional' community.

Alexandra Wilding, Baltimore

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