Letters to the Editor

Letters from Sept. 22, 2007

El Centro: Plays an important role

Several local citizens have expressed concerns about United Way of Kitsap County’s challenge grant for El Centro de la Familia, as some of El Centro’s clients are undocumented immigrants. Some have even said they would withhold support for United Way in protest.

As a former official with a local nonprofit that serves immigrants, I would like to offer some perspective on immigrant assistance and underscore why support for United Way is vital to the health of our community.

The immigrants served by my former agency are working hard to learn English in order to succeed in jobs and communicate with all those who affect their lives — their children’s teachers, health professionals, bankers, landlords, store clerks, government officials — in short, to become viable, contributing members of the Kitsap community. Volunteers provide hands-on assistance, and the staff coordinates with government agencies and other nonprofits — including El Centro de la Familia — in order to help clients meet their families’ needs.

Some who seek the agency’s help might be undocumented, but none are turned away for that reason. Many are preparing to obtain U.S. citizenship, which they cannot do without mastering the language and learning about American life. (Typically, citizenship candidates know more about our history and government than many Americans!)

El Centro de la Familia performs a similarly important role for the local Hispanic population, helping to strengthen families by providing needed medical assistance. I doubt that any undocumented immigrant has moved to Kitsap County simply because such services are readily available.

United Way plays a unique and important role in the provision of these and other invaluable services throughout the community. In addition to financial support, the agency provides materials, volunteer manpower and assistance in coordinating services for a holistic network of support for our neighbors in need. United Way supports a wide range of services for families, children, and at-risk populations including battered women, people with disabilities and seniors. It is one of the few reliable avenues of assistance with administrative expenses, which any fund-raising professional can attest is the most difficult to obtain. And, yes, United Way is vigilant in monitoring the use of its hard-earned funds.

Rather than disavowing support for United Way in protest, if you wish to help build a strong community but have reservations about possible support for certain immigrants, you can continue to help those in need through United Way by designating your pledge for a specific agency. It’s easy to do on your annual pledge form, or you can simply write the name of the organization on your check. More than 30 deserving agencies are available to you.

Please join me in supporting United Way of Kitsap County, in whatever manner you can. The health of our community is at stake.

BARBARA FELVER

Bremerton

Letters on letters: Missing the point

J. Michael Sondheimer makes some interesting points (CK Reporter, Sept. 15), but fails to get the big picture — the same as Jay Inslee, whom he supports.

Let us remember that the USA was founded with the evils of slavery being permitted, but about 80 years later, a terrible civil war was fought because of differences between the Republicans, who wanted to end slavery, and the Democrats, who insisted on allowing slavery to continue. Many supporters of slavery felt that the “slave masters” were the glue that held things together, because they felt that the slaves were incapable of handling freedom and needed a strong master. After the Civil War was over, at a cost of 600,000 people dead on both sides, the Democrats kept an insurgency going that included the KKK and lynchings. The Civil Rights Act of 1875, passed by a Republican Congress, was declared unconstitutional by activist justices supported by the Democrats after they returned to power. The Civil Rights Act of 1875 gave former slaves most of what was in the 1964 Civil Rights Act (and the 1964 act had more Republican support than Democrat support). Our country’s struggles weren’t over in a hundred years.

Today, the Iraqi people do need to step up and take responsibility for their country, but to imply, as Sondheimer does, that the Iraqi people aren’t capable of peace and freedom, is as racist as the Democrats during the Civil War. Yes, there might be 5 percent of the population in Iraq that seeks to retain an oppressive theocracy that would oppress the population, but we should be willing to aid the country until there is more stability there. After our Civil War, there were federal troops in the South until Reconstruction was ended about 13 years later, and it ended too early, (according to many supporters of civil rights for the freed slaves).

After WWI ended, Germany was treated harshly, and the seeds to WWII were planted because of it. After WWII, the USA did something unusual — they rebuilt the countries and economies of defeated enemies and created stable democracies that are now allies, but we kept troops present for many years after the end of the war. If we go in the direction that the “Cut and Run” crowd would have us go, we will hand the terrorists a victory, and Iraq will descend into a terrible civil war and moderate Middle East countries will recognize that the USA is a feckless ally, and the terrorists will be further motivated to continue attacks on us throughout the world and here at home. The Middle East will be extremely unstable, and $150/barrel oil would be possible. If we, on the other hand, try to help Iraq move toward peace and stability, the large majority of people in the Middle East will see that we aren’t cowards and we will stay and help them resist the terrorists.

And finally, go back and read the words of Lincoln in his second inaugural address where he indicates what the true cost of slavery might be to this nation, and then consider what cost the civilized world should have to pay for years of indifference to the sufferings of millions of people who are ruled by tyrants like Saddam Hussein so that we could have cheap oil. Maybe we should have done something sooner, even if it meant the oil would cost more, but the money would have helped the population, instead of tyrants, and we would be seen as true supporters of liberty.

MIKE VINEYARD

Bremerton

Barker Creek: Get the culvert done right

The media is now featuring articles about the returning salmon in the local streams. One local article explained in detail the complicated journey of these icons of the Pacific Northwest.

The salmon returning to Barker Creek have a final obstacle that is needless and founded on reasons that have nothing to do with the value of the salmon to this county.

The contradictions are multiple. There is much publicity about the leadership in Washington state creating a partnership to study, obtain funding and take action regarding the preservation of these species. But conversely, the leaders in Kitsap County seem to be ignoring these state and federal directives. Point in case. The Chums of Barker Creek obtained a SRFB grant (federal and state funds) some years ago for $500,000 to replace the culvert at Tracyton Boulevard and Barker Creek Road. However, the Public Works Department somehow managed to sabotage this project and now those monies will undoubtedly return to be utilized to fund another project in another part of the state.

The Silverdale Port District, as well as the Bella Vista Foundation in San Francisco provided matching funds. Yet the mantra keeps repeating that there just aren’t enough funds to do this project correctly.

Chums of Barker Creek urge the county leadership and the Suquamish Tribe to make this project a success story so that the salmon returning to Barker Creek have one less obstacle on their long journey back to their origins.

MARY BERTRAND

Chums of Barker Creek

Tracyton

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