MeredithMay2017

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My Senate door will always be open and my phone is on

To The Daily Sun,

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, I had the honor of being elected to the Senate. It was a very close election, with the recount providing a final vote margin of 17 to make the victory.

I would like to thank all of you who supported me in this effort, those who worked door-to-door, held signs, talked with their neighbors and friends, and voted. In an election this close you know that everyone had a hand in the final results. Had just one of you not done what you had done for me — large or small — the results would have been different. I will remember this during my next two years of service.

I want all the folks of District 7, everyone, no matter who you voted for, to know I will be there to serve you. I'll make every effort to keep all the people of District 7 informed of the impact of impending legislation and state government on them.

I will be offering constituent services for all people who have difficulties within the district. My door will always be open and my phone is on.

I would like to also take a moment to thank my opponent, Sen. Andrew Hosmer, for his four years of service to the district. Although we may differ greatly on many issues, he deserves a hand for the countless hours he has devoted to the job.

Again, my sincerest thank you to everyone.

Senator-elect Harold French

District 7

Franklin

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Why I'm still involved in direct care of children at my advanced age

To The Daily Sun,

Children who have been neglected or abused bring happiness and optimism into my life. Now that may sound a little strange or weird, but then most of the children I work with have often described me in that fashion, so let me explain. Much of the work I do involves bringing children to visit their parents and then supervising those visits because their parents are in the process of attempting to reunify with them. As you may have already surmised, those parents are fighting the ravages of drug addiction.It is an uphill battle on so very many levels and that is a topic for another day.

I have the opportunity to work with and get to know the children of those parents. Yes, it is physically and emotionally draining to be with those boys and girls while they are visiting with their parents. Parents who struggle to make that full commitment to change their lives and make better choices for themselves, in order to get their children back.

A colleague of mine recently asked me how I keep myself from getting emotionally burnt out from this work. I told her that I derive pleasure from the challenges of developing relationships with the birth parents, foster parents and extended family members. However, as Thanksgiving approaches, I found myself pondering that question more deeply. I came to realize that it is much more than that. Those who know me, know that I love being with children, which is why I am still involved in direct care at my advanced age.

In thinking of what I am thankful for this year, one of the things I am most thankful for is an awe inspiring opportunity. The opportunity to witness the resilience, energy and zest for life that exists within these children, in spite of the disappointment, loss and trauma that they have experienced in their young lives.

Three brothers running around a playground blowing bubbles and demanding that I chase them while laughing and teasing me. The perfect distraction while we wait for their mother to show up, late again for the visit. Two sisters laughing and singing Christmas carols with me while I drive them back to their grandmother's home where they live. The perfect distraction after visiting with their mother who was just injured in a car accident and had to move yet again, due to her homeless dilemma. A young girl showing off her reading skills to me at the local library, then demanding that I do the "underdog" while she is on the swing, and teasing me about being her pretend grandfather, all while flashing that devilish twinkle in her eye. The perfect distraction for a visit when her mother failed to show and another when her mother moved far away, necessitating the suspension of visits.

And lastly, a 10-year-old boy who I worked with for a year and a half. He beat me like a drum at multiplication war. He mercilessly scored goals on me as I guarded the soccer goal. He demanded that I give him the heave-ho while swimming at a local pool. His smile and laugh so infectious that I was never able to contain my glee whenever it appeared.The perfect distraction for his frustration at his mother not being able to complete the goals of reunification. Thankfully, he was able to reunite with his biological father after many years of separation.

Despite the heartache that has been their lot in life, all of them are still able to find the joy in life. They have been able to find a way to trust again, summoning the courage to believe that others will take care of them, love them and keep them safe. I thank God for those amazing foster parents who give their hearts and souls to care for these children. I thank God for a wonderful grandmother who has made the enormous sacrifice of taking in four grandchildren, all while being a single parent and running her own business. I'm guessing that she doesn't think it is much of a sacrifice, as she watches her four granddaughters grow and thrive under her care.

I admire and respect these parents so very much. I have been so privileged and blessed to be a small part of these children's lives. So, how is it that I have not become emotionally burnt out, dealing with such heartbreaking situations on a daily basis? I am convinced it is the inspiration and motivation that I derive from these wonderful children. It is indeed adult/child therapy for this ole curmudgeon that keeps me young and alive and reinvigorated.

There is a Chinese proverb that states, "A child's life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark." I'd like to think that I have left my mark on them. A mark that reminds them they have worth, because they know I cherish every second I get to be with them. Anyway, just being able to share time with them is one of the things I am most grateful for on this Thanksgiving of 2016.

Russ Wiles
Tilton

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