Society can do better by its vulnerable citizens Editor, The Times: Your story, "A cap, a gown, a miracle" was...

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Miracles and gowns

Society can do better by its vulnerable citizens

Editor, The Times:

Your story, “A cap, a gown, a miracle” [Times, page one, June 10] was probably intended to inspire, but I could only feel outrage at the many ways social services and especially the Division of Developmental Disabilities had failed this incredible family.

Although there are local heroes in this story, there is also an enormous void where government agencies should have better served the needs of this hardworking young man and his invincible grandmother.

It has often been said that the measure of a society’s goodness is how well it cares for its most vulnerable citizens.

This family’s Herculean struggles, despite their momentary triumph, show that we all must do much, much better for individuals with disabilities.

— Devora Chavez, Seattle

Cheers for Treehouse

Mentoring works but needs more visibility

I appreciated reading the article about the Treehouse Coaching-to-College program [“A ceremony that beat the odds,” News, June 10]. I know one of the tutors, a BCC professor, who gets real satisfaction by participating.

With all the discussion about “the system,” here is a program that is quietly giving students real, rather than theoretical, opportunities.

It gives the volunteers a real chance to interact with the problem. My only suggestion would be to have a more-visible article.

I see color photos of fires, mannequins in bathing suits and tomatoes.

More families and students need to see the opportunity and hope provided by this program.

— Trish Rogers, Bellevue

Learning to share

The road, that is

Significant numbers of Seattleites are presently exploring ways to drive less. With gas prices rapidly climbing toward $5 a gallon, driving a car has become financially untenable for the poorest, and a financial cramp for those in the middle-income brackets.

We need to make Seattle’s roads, bike paths, sidewalks and intersections safer for these explorers. We need to raise public awareness about cycling and walking and the responsibilities that go with both. Law enforcement needs to enforce the laws that exist to protect the most vulnerable participants in our transportation system. Public-service postings should emphasize that cars are just one of the groups that have legitimate claim to the roads.

In the same spirit, cyclists are beholden to the same laws as cars when on the road and should defer to pedestrians when on sidewalks or in crosswalks. People who have spent years in cars need resources in learning how to get around without them, and how to do it legally and safely.

Seattle’s public institutions can go a long way in reducing accidents by stepping up in this area.

— Mike Carlson, Northgate

Dirt and food safety

Play outside

I have been following the articles on food safety in the media lately and have a question and I believe an answer: Why are so many people getting sick?

As a kid growing up in Rhode Island, my grandfathers and later myself grew all our family’s vegetables. We would start in the fall by placing fresh cow or chicken manure over the planting area. For both grandparents and myself, this area was about 200 feet by 200 feet. In early spring, we would turn and weed the area. As summer approached, we planted everything from tomatoes to potatoes. Upon picking, we washed all the produce before use, and as kids we would pick what we wanted to eat, rub the dirt off on our clothes and eat then them right in the field. No one got sick.

What has happened to the children and young adults of today? My kids, both in their 20s, did this growing up and they never got sick. My grandson, age 7, helps me plant. He has eaten the vegetables right from the vines and hasn’t gotten sick either.

This may seem strange coming from a New Englander, but the only thing I find different is that today kids are not allowed to go out and get dirty, put their hands in their mouth or play in the mud. What we have is a society that appears to have grown away from nature and common sense. With lack of outdoor areas for kids to play, we have created a young society whose immune systems are being compromised.

As such, its capability to fight off bad germs has diminished. These observations are what I see as a grandparent and an outside observer of today’s society. I also teach a food-safety class and stress the need to wash all produce and hands whenever handling food.

— Vincent DiGiulio, Kirkland