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Governor Quinn Statement on Christmas PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Dave Blanchette   
Friday, 26 December 2014 09:50

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today visited more than 100 sailors who could not go home at this year’s “Christmas Day with the Sailors” event in Berwyn. The event is supported by local charities and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and features lunch, dinner, music and a visit from Santa. Governor Quinn was joined by Berwyn Mayor Robert Lovero for a traditional holiday meal and to present awards to those who make the event possible.

The Governor released the following statement:

“Today people across Illinois will gather with loved ones to celebrate Christmas and the spirit of family, generosity and goodwill towards all.

“Christmas is a time of joy, charity and compassion. While we celebrate the season, we should reflect on and cherish the many gifts that we have been blessed with, including the brave men and women who sacrifice so much for our nation. These men and women give up time with their friends and families so that we might celebrate safely with ours. We owe them a great debt of gratitude for their unmatched generosity and selflessness.

“Merry Christmas!”

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How to Help Your Children Remember the Neediest During this Busy Holiday Season PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 23 December 2014 09:57
Talking about Childhood Hunger Creates Teachable Moments Between Parents & Children

Knowing when to talk to your children about serious problems they may face sooner rather than later can be difficult for parents.

While burdening a child with a complex issue at too early of an age may frighten or confuse them, it’s important to ensure they’re prepared for what they most certainly will be exposed to, says former Peace Corps volunteer and children’s author Lois Brandt.

“When I was a young girl, I opened my best friend’s refrigerator and discovered that her family had no food,” Brandt says. “I didn’t know what to do as a child facing this horrible issue. I didn’t know how to help my friend.”

Twenty percent of American children – one of every five -- live in households that struggle to afford food, according to a 2012 report from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Chances are that your child will have classmates whose families are struggling to put food on the table.

“Children follow where parents lead. Talking to your children about hunger shows them your empathy for others; it prepares them for the moment they may encounter hunger among their friends or classmates, and it assures them that they can talk to their parents about this problem,” says Brandt, author of “Maddi’s Fridge,” (www.MaddisFridge.com), a colorfully illustrated children’s picture book inspired by Brandt’s experience with her childhood friend.

She offers tips on how to talk to children about the widespread problem of child hunger.

•  Young children may not understand complex issues; keep the discussion  age-appropriate. While it’s important to be honest with children about issues they may encounter, adults do not have to scare or confuse them.

“When I read ‘Maddi’s Fridge’ in classrooms,” Brandt says. “I’ll ask what the book is about. The very first hand in the air always says ‘friendship.’ I was very careful to ensure that the story gently entertains. First- through fourth-graders laugh at eggs in backpacks and Vin Vogel’s great illustrations.”

•  Have a brainstorming session on what makes a good friend. This puts the discussion in terms that children are comfortable with. Talk about times when you were a child and helped your friends. Ask your child to tell you about a time he or she helped a friend on the playground or in the classroom. Emphasizing the web of relationships we all live in will empower your child with a sense of community, even when facing large problems.

•  Discuss with your child ways they can help. Children want to know where they fit, what their role is. Let you child know that he or she can be part of the fight against childhood hunger. Bring food to a food bank, take meals to a needy family, support food drives by your school and religious organization.  Suggestions for ways to help can be found on websites for organizations  like Feeding America (www.FeedingAmerica.org), a national network of food banks, or on Maddisfridge.com

About Lois Brandt

Lois Brandt is a children’s fiction writer whose work has appeared in Highlights and other fine children’s magazines. Her new book, “Maddi’s Fridge,” (www.MaddisFridge.com), illustrated by Vin Vogel, is the first picture book to address child hunger in the United States. It was inspired by Brandt’s childhood memory of opening her friend’s refrigerator and finding only condiments and a lunch milk carton her friend had saved from school for her little brother. Ten percent of proceeds from sales of “Maddi’s Fridge” go to hunger solutions. Brandt, who holds an MFA from Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa.

 
The Christmas Hope: A To-Do List for a Better World PDF Print E-mail
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Written by John W. Whitehead   
Monday, 22 December 2014 14:59
“The Christmas hope for peace and good will toward all men can no longer be dismissed as a kind of pious dream of some utopian. If we don’t have good will toward men in this world, we will destroy ourselves by the misuse of our own instruments and our own power. Wisdom born of experience should tell us that war is obsolete. We must either learn to live together as brothers or we are going to perish together as fools.”—Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Christmas Eve sermon, 1967

As a child, my Christmas wish list came right out of the Sears and Roebuck catalogue—toys, board games, bikes, action figures, etc. My parents, like so many in their day, belonged to the working-class poor, so while I never lacked for the necessities of life, many of the items on my wish list never came to be. Even so, I was no worse off for it.

I wish the same could be said of those still unfulfilled items on my adult Christmas wish list. Each year, I wish for the same things—an end to war, poverty, hunger, violence and disease—and each year, I find the world relatively unchanged. Millions continue to die every year, casualties of a world that places greater value on war machines and profit margins than human life.

I’ve seen enough of the world in my 68 years to know that wishing is not enough. We need to be doing. It’s not possible to solve all of the world’s problems right away. For most people, putting an end to world hunger, poverty, disease and the police state may seem too insurmountable a task to even tackle. But as I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, there are practical steps each of us can take to hopefully get things moving in the right direction. Here’s what I would suggest for a start:

Tone down the partisan rhetoric, the “us” vs. “them” mentality. Politicians frequently perpetuate a “good” versus “evil,” “us” versus “them” rhetoric which pits citizen against citizen and allows the politicians to advance their personal, political agendas. Instead of wasting time and resources on political infighting, which gets us nowhere, it’s time Americans learned to work together to solve the problems before us. The best place to start is in your own communities, neighbor to neighbor. After all, at the end of the day, it makes no difference what politician you voted for—Republican, Democrat or otherwise—politics will never be the answer. Politicians have mastered the art of creating dissension, but they’re all the same. Grassroots activism is the only kind of change you can count on.

Turn off the TV and tune into what’s happening in your family, in your community and your world. Read your local newspaper. Attend a school board or city council meeting. Get involved with a nonprofit that works in your community. Whatever you do, reduce your intake of mindless television and entertainment news. The only reality programming worth taking notice of is the one playing in your home and community.

Show compassion to those in need, be kind to those around you, forgive those who have wronged you, and teach your children to do the same. Increasingly, people seem to be forgetting their p’s and q’s—basic manners that were drilled into older generations. I’m talking about simple things like holding a door open for someone, helping someone stranded on the side of the road, and saying “please” and “thank you” to those who do you a service—whether it be to the teenager bagging your groceries or the family member who just passed the potatoes. As author Robert Heinlein observed, “A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot...”

Talk less, listen more. Take less, and give more. If people spent less time dwelling on and attending to their own needs and more time trying to help and understand those around them, many of the problems we currently face could be eliminated.

Stop acting entitled and start being empowered. We have moved into the Age of Entitlement, where more and more people feel entitled to certain benefits without having to work for them. There’s nothing wrong with helping those less fortunate, but as my parents taught me, there’s a lot to be said for an honest day’s work.

Remember that all people are endowed with inalienable rights. I’ve heard a lot of chatter in recent years in favor of torturing detainees and denying basic rights to non-citizens, but doing so not only goes against everything that the U.S. is supposed to stand for, but it also goes against every principle common to all world religions—forgiveness, charity, nonjudgmentalism, nonviolence, etc. America cannot continue to lambast terrorist groups for their contempt for human life and dignity when our own nation violates these same principles time and again.

Stop being a hater. Increasingly, we as a society have come to reflect the hostility at work in the world at large. This is so even in such a virtual microcrosm as Facebook, where “unfriending” those with whom you might disagree has become commonplace. How can we ever hope to curb the hatred and animosity that have spurred global terrorism over the past few decades if we can’t even forgive the human failings of those in our immediate circles?

Learn tolerance in the true sense of the word. There’s no need to legislate tolerance through hate crime legislation and other politically correct mechanisms of compliance. True tolerance stems from a basic respect for one’s fellow man or woman. And it should be taught to children from the time they can understand right from wrong.

Treat women like people, not things. If pop culture and the media are any reflection of how women and girls are viewed today—primarily as sex objects—then one can only wonder what exactly the women’s rights movement has been doing in recent years. The use of sex and its impact on young girls is particularly troubling. As professor Henry A. Giroux observed: “Market strategists are increasingly using sexually charged images to sell commodities, often representing the fantasies of an adult version of sexuality. For instance, Abercrombie & Fitch, a clothing franchise for young people, has earned a reputation for its risqué catalogues filled with promotional ads of scantily clad kids and its over-the-top sexual advice columns for teens and preteens; one catalogue featured an ad for thongs for ten-year-olds with the words ‘eye candy’ and ‘wink wink’ written on them. Another clothing store sold underwear geared toward teens with ‘Who needs Credit Cards ...?’ written across the crotch. Children as young as six years old are being sold lacy underwear, push-up bras and ‘date night accessories’ for their various doll collections. In 2006, the Tesco department store chain sold a pole dancing kit designed for young girls to unleash the sex kitten inside.”

Value your family. The traditional family, such that it is, is already in great disrepair, torn apart by divorce, infidelity, overscheduling, overwork, materialism, and an absence of spirituality. Despite the billions we spend on childcare, toys, clothes, private lessons, etc., a concern for our children no longer seems to be a prime factor in how we live our lives. And now we are beginning to see the blowback from collapsing familial relationships. Indeed, more and more, I hear about young people refusing to talk to their parents, grandparents being denied access to their grandchildren, and older individuals left to molder away in nursing homes. Yet without the family, the true building block of our nation, there can be no freedom.

Feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and comfort the lonely and broken-hearted. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Take part in local food drives. Take a meal to a needy family. “Adopt” an elderly person at a nursing home. Support the creation of local homeless shelters in your community. Urge your churches, synagogues and mosques to act as rotating thermal shelters for the homeless during the cold winter months.

Give peace a chance. So far, the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan have cost American taxpayers more than $4 trillion, and that doesn’t even begin to approach the human cost in lives lost—military and civilian—and families rent asunder. The military industrial complex has a lot to gain financially so long as America continues to wage its wars at home and abroad, but you can be sure that the American people will lose everything unless we find some way to give peace a chance. We can start by bringing all of our men and women in uniform home.

Start your own teaspoon brigade. You don’t have to solve all the world’s problems single-handedly, nor do you have to solve them overnight. Little by little, you’ll get there, but you have to start somewhere. It is up to each of us to do our part to make this a better world for all. As the legendary singer, songwriter and activist Pete Seeger once remarked to me:

I tell everybody a little parable about the “teaspoon brigades.” Imagine a big seesaw. One end of the seesaw is on the ground because it has a big basket half full of rocks in it. The other end of the seesaw is up in the air because it’s got a basket one-quarter full of sand. Some of us have teaspoons, and we are trying to fill it up. Most people are scoffing at us. They say, “People like you have been trying for thousands of years, but it is leaking out of that basket as fast as you are putting it in.” Our answer is that we are getting more people with teaspoons every day. And we believe that one of these days or years—who knows—that basket of sand is going to be so full that you are going to see that whole seesaw going zoop! in the other direction. Then people are going to say, “How did it happen so suddenly?” And we answer, “Us and our little teaspoons over thousands of years.”

 
Victories for Iowa PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Rep. Dave Loebsack   
Monday, 22 December 2014 14:34

As we approach the end of the year, we are also closing out the 113th Congress.  While this Congress as a whole has left many things to complete, I have been busy working across the aisle to overcome the Washington gridlock and advance legislation to benefit the people of Iowa.  A summary of some of those achievements are below.

Growing Iowa’s Economy

SECTORS Act

Large portions of my SECTORS Act were passed as part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.  The SECTORS Act will ensure workers have the training they need to secure good jobs and employers have access to a workforce with the skills that are needed for them to expand, boost our economy, and out-perform the global competition.

Water Resources Reform and Development Act

The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) authorizes Corps of Engineers funding for improvements to ports, waterways and projects tied to flood protection, drinking water, dams and levees and environmental restoration.  This bill also contained my legislation to protect Cedar Rapids from future flooding.

Strengthening Rock Island Arsenal

I have continued my efforts to drive more workload to the Rock Island Arsenal, which will help both the Arsenal and the Quad Cities’ economy remain strong.

Cleaning Up Congress

There is no doubt that the American people have lost faith in Congress.  That is why I have fought to hold Congress accountable for its actions by fighting for legislation to cut Member’s pay for the first time since the Great Depression and permanently ban all Member’s from becoming lobbyists.

Fighting for Rural Iowa

Farm Bill

The long-term farm bill that passed Congress this year is essential for farmers and rural communities to be able to invest and plan for the future.  The new farm bill makes important reforms, gives our farmers strong risk management tools, strengthens our rural communities, and creates job well beyond the farm.

Renewable Fuels Standard

We all know the importance of biofuels to Iowa’s economy, which is why I have been leading the fight in Congress against the EPA to reverse its announced Renewable Fuels Standard proposal.  The proposal that the EPA announced last fall is flat-out unacceptable and would have dire consequences to Iowa’s economy.

Production Tax Credit

The PTC has helped the still growing wind energy industry employ 80,000 Americans, including thousands of Iowans.  Living in Iowa, I understand how important renewable energy is to our state, to our country’s future, and to our economy.

On January 6th, when the new Congress is sworn in, I will have the honor of serving on the Energy and Commerce Committee.  This new position will allow me to have a greater say on issues that are important to Iowans, including job creation, growing the economy, making sound investments in renewable energy such as wind, solar and biofuels and growing the Middle Class.  I have been honored to serve as your voice and look forward to continuing that in the New Year.

Congressman Dave Loebsack

 
Senior Star at Elmore Place Wins 2015 Best of Assisted Living Award from SeniorAdvisor.com PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Christina L. Maggio-Kellerstrass   
Friday, 19 December 2014 15:46

DAVENPORT, IA (December 19, 2014) – Senior Star at Elmore Place is pleased to announce today that they have won a 2015 Best of Assisted Living Award for receiving consistently high ratings from residents, families and visitors in the past year on SeniorAdvisor.com, the premier ratings and reviews site for senior care and services nationwide.

Now in their second year, the Best of 2015 Awards celebrate the best of the best in American senior care and are only given to communities and agencies that have consistently received outstanding feedback from residents and families on the SeniorAdvisor.com website.  This exclusive designation places the winners in the top one percent of senior care providers nationwide according to those who matter most – their residents and families.  Of the nearly 100,000 providers listed on SeniorAdvisor.com, only 879 were recognized with this award including two of Senior Star’s 13 communities across the United States.

To qualify for a SeniorAdvisor.com Best of 2015 Award, winners must have an average overall rating of at least 4.5 of 5 stars and a minimum number of reviews.  Additionally, winners must offer at least one of the following types of care:  assisted living, Alzheimer’s care, independent living, low-income senior housing, skilled nursing or in-home care.  Further details and a complete list of award winners can be found on SeniorAdvisor.com.

“To be in the company of other elite senior care providers by winning a Best of 2015 Assisted Living Award given by SeniorAdvisor.com is an honor,” said Marc Strohschein, Senior Star at Elmore Place executive director.  “Knowing that this award comes from the important critique and opinions of our residents and their families means a great deal as they are what makes us strive for excellence and the reason why we have the mission of providing quality senior housing programs.”

For more information about Senior Star at Elmore Place or to schedule a tour, call 563.484.5114 or visit the website at www.seniorstar.com.

About Senior Star at Elmore Place

Senior Star at Elmore Place, a Senior Star community, features 236 modernly decorated apartments spanning across 20 acres of beautifully landscaped property with many customized amenities to offer its residents three distinctive living experiences:  independent living, assisted living and memory care.  For more information, visit www.seniorstar.com.

About SeniorAdvisor.com LLC

SeniorAdvisor.com is the premier consumer ratings and reviews site for senior living communities and home care providers nationwide.  The innovative website provides easy access to the information families need when making a senior care decision and features trusted reviews and advice from local residents and their loved ones.  For more information, visit www.senioradvisor.com or call 1.800.805.3621.

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