VOLUNTEERS DESERVE KUDOS AND THANKS
They came energized from afar to help clean up Kea'au Beach Park in Mäkua and beyond.
They came pregnant, with baby strollers and of all ages. The clean-up project took groups along Farrington Highway, the seashore and inside the bushes where the homeless families lived.
The sign read "The Great American Cleanup." It took place the morning before Valentine's Day. The outpouring of volunteers left me speechless, and this letter is dedicated to you — mahalo nui loa a hundred times over.
The living conditions of the homeless children in the bushes were inhumane and unsanitary, like the living conditions in Haiti. At one point I came across an "earth toilet" as I was pulling tires from the bushes.
No running water, no electricity and living in makeshift shacks with empty beer bottles scattered around. Is it legal to have underage children living in these inhumane and unsanitary conditions? Where's the enforcement? Who will rescue these children?
I will never forget these images, both disgusting and good, and the experiences of hearing the little volunteers' voices saying "oh, look what I found," as the children spent this day looking for hidden treasures along the shore.
Johnnie-Mae L. Perry| Wai'anae Neighborhood Board
CLOSING OFFICES WILL HURT THOSE IN NEED
I am dismayed to see the plan, announced in The Advertiser (Page One, Feb. 9), to close most offices in which the poor apply for the meager Temporary Assistance for Needy Family benefits allowed by the state.
Particularly now, when need has increased, social justice requires that services to the most financially vulnerable be made accessible. Closing these offices, and making all contacts electronic, will make applying for TANF, food stamps and other benefits more difficult — especially for those applicants who do not live in Honolulu or Hilo, or who have difficulty with English or do not have access to electronic communications.
I began my social work career as a public-assistance caseworker. For many people, applying for "welfare" is one of the lowest points in their lives. Properly done, an initial interview with a client can inspire new hope and encourage better life solutions. Alternatively, it can increase a client's shame and trample a client's sense of self-efficacy.
It seems to me that a dehumanized, automated process is more likely to result in the latter than the former, and that we ought to be looking at increased and more professionalized services for "welfare" recipients, not eliminating 200 workers and 50 offices.
Mary Sheridan, Ph.D, | Honolulu
HAWAI'I COULD BE ENERGY INDEPENDENT
The White House's announcement to support loans for two new nuclear power plants sends a very positive signal that the president fully realizes the importance of energy independence. This is a bold and tough political move.
While it will receive immediate support from the Republicans, the left-wing part of the Democrat party will be up in arms and many will feel another campaign promised was betrayed.
We will need a balanced energy policy which will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and promote national security. This decision clearly demonstrates that our country can develop a balanced energy policy which utilizes all energy resources. If the administration sets the policy, the free market will respond accordingly and we will all benefit.
Perhaps it is time that Hawai'i also considers this option by changing our state constitution, which bans nuclear energy. With the right leadership, we could lead the nation as one of the first states to be energy independent. This is not a dream, but a possibility, if we all unite together.
Richard M. Smylie | Hawai'i Kai
'ALWAYS BE ON THE POSITIVE SIDE OF LIFE'
In August 1945 I was assigned for military duty at Fort Shafter and in turn they sent me to Fort Armstrong to assist the Corps of Engineers in their restoration work. At the same time, a former Marine Corps captain applied and got a job with the engineers — Frank Fasi. There was a need for restoration work on all of the Anti-aircraft Artillery Command installations throughout O'ahu, and they established a Fasi-Farr team to do the work.
Frank was a great influence in my life . He taught me never to think negatively and always be on the positive side of life. And during the five or more days each week we were together for a year, he taught me to be honest and always stand up for my beliefs.
He always pursued anything that would make life better for people. Isaw it all in his actions. Some would say that he was stubborn and bullheaded — yes, he was — but rightly so. I just wish there were more people like him in the world.
Rest in peace, Frank. I am a much better person because a lot of you rubbed off on me.
Charlie M. Farr | Kailua
CONGESTION MAKING AREA A NIGHTMARE
I have lived on the North Shore for 55-plus years, so I have seen the North Shore morph into a tourist destination.
I commend the "Keep the Country Country" advocates; however, we are no longer country.
Our once beautiful pristine beaches and agriculture land has been lost to vacation rentals or bed and breakfast housing. The traffic is atrocious — a 15-minute errand has turned into a one-hour nightmare.
Family members outside of the North Shore avoid visiting during the big waves or just because of the gridlock traffic. How about having to cancel a Christmas dinner because family gets stuck in a two-hour gridlock?
Being a North Shore resident and having to compete with the tourist-generated traffic has become so frustrating that I elect to stay home and rest in my hammock on weekends.
But wait now the sky is being invaded by helicopters. In one hour there were at least of eight helicopters hovering over our Pupukea residence. The pilots travel over the residential area with no regard of the loud and disruptive sound of the helicopters.
When will the rape of the North Shore stop?
r. ornellas | Pupukea