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Handicapped permits shouldn't be abusedThis letter is...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Handicapped permits shouldn't be abused

This letter is to voice my opinion about the inappropriate use of handicap tags. A handicap permit is for use when the handicapped person is in the vehicle.

I am a caregiver for my 80 year-old mother, who is in a wheelchair. We have a conversion van for the purpose of transporting her. The worst thing is not that I have to push her in the wheelchair from way out on the parking lot, but when I have had to park in a normal-sized parking space and cannot get her step next to the van to get her into the wheelchair. It is very frustrating.

Recently, I was at Marley Station near the new Sears, where there are four or five handicapped parking spots near the one door. All were taken. Three had people in their cars waiting for someone to come out of the mall. The one closest to the door was a woman and her child who pulled in after I had struggled to get my mother out of the van in a regular parking space.

By that time I was hot. I mentioned it to the woman, who screamed, "How do you know what my medical problems are? I'll give you my doctor's name and number and you can call him." This type of altercation would not have to be experienced if people knew the police checked permits.

Don't people realize they are taking up a spot that may be necessary for a legitimate handicapped person? This is not only inconsiderate and rude but illegal as far as I am concerned.

I feel very strongly that law enforcement officers should check the permits of the vehicles parked in handicapped spaces and should ticket those who do not have the handicapped person with them. The fine should be enough to make them think about parking there again. At Marley Station, a parking space is reserved for police cars near most handicapped parking spots, making the inspection easy to perform.

I am pleading with those people with handicapped tags to remember how it feels when they cannot find a spot for their handicapped person.

'Jacqueline Acree Horst

Pasadena

Student learns homeless are just like you and me

One of the most significant events in my life is working with the Winter Relief Program at my church. This program is a community outreach to men in northern Anne Arundel who have no home.

This opportunity comes once a year and lasts two weeks, in which we actually reach out to support, work with and rehabilitate the homeless. The program is shared with 11 other churches that take in 30 or more homeless men providing a place to stay, food to eat, videos, books, clothes and friends to talk to.

This experience has changed my attitude on the whole aspect of homelessness. Before, I associated homelessness with laziness and a lack of motivation.

However, I see now from first-hand experience that these men have really just caught the raw end of the deal or have made some really bad choices.

Several of the men are hard workers with families and have just fallen on bad times with no family support to carry them on. There are a few lazy and useless men, but the majority are just like everyone else except for one major possession -- a place to call home.

I think the best and most important feature of the program is that it gives the homeless a sense of being wanted and that someone actually cares. They frequently face being shunned or turned away. In this environment, they are accepted and treated as an equal. We provide someone for them to talk to and be their friend.

I think this is the most important element, even over the food and shelter. They are so accustomed to being outcasts that when faced with a friendly atmosphere, they are totally overwhelmed and take full advantage of the fellowship. Throughout my years and all of my service, I have heard some extremely unique stories as well as stories of the ordinary man.

This program is locally run, Many of the people in it still come into contact with me and we remain friends. Through playing cards, basketball and talking to these men I have been introduced to many types of people, such as alcoholics, drug addicts, young, old, even men who were formerly heads of major corporations.

These men are the same as you and me. It has given me exposure to many cultures and behaviors, but most of all friendship and fellowship with people I never expected to be involved with and men who perhaps need it most.

I think more people should get involved with programs like this to help the homeless problem our country is experiencing. It would help people understand that the homeless are no different than the person next to you.

Many of these men have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. They have not been able to regain employment and have simply given up.

It is truly ironic how one minute they can be important to society and the next they are worthless. If everyone could realize this and not have the usual fear and stereotype, they could experience the change I have and benefit from it as well.

!Zachary Andrew Geidel

Pasadena

The writer is a senior at Mount St. Joseph High School, Baltimore.

Odenton Town Center plan is good for the bay

Your recent article on the Odenton Town Center project left out one key fact. Its purpose is to control suburban sprawl -- the worst threat facing the Chesapeake Bay. The town center concept has been endorsed by many environmental groups and state and federal officials as a way to draw growth away from the bay and concentrate it around mass transit, major highways and jobs, thereby reducing air and water pollution.

It is unfortunate that some wetlands must be filled to build the Odenton Town Center. Yet two acres of wetlands will be created for each acre filled, and the created wetlands will provide more environmental functions.

Further, the adjoining uplands will inevitably be developed, given their prime market location. The proposed wetlands that will be created will:

Expand a valuable flood plain wetland complex and enhance water quality, flood control and wildlife habitat.

Protect water quality within the headwaters of Jabez Branch, the only trout stream entirely within Maryland's Coastal Plain.

David W. Blaha

Annapolis

The writer is with Environmental Resources Management and prepared the mitigation proposal for the wetlands at Odenton Town Center.

Would county run casinos next?

Are we to assume by your recent editorial in support of the Anne Arundel County Recreational Facilities Revenue Authority that you are endorsing the proliferation of bingo parlors? How about a county chock full of gambling casinos subsidized by the taxpayers should the state legislature legalize them in the future?

Preposterous? There is nothing in the currently worded legislation to prevent the authority from constructing, owning and/or operating such facilities. Clearly, creative ways must be found to meet the growing demand for recreation facilities. Unfortunately, the recent bill may cause far more problems than it solves.

Lynne Chaput

Millersville

West chamber's youth conference impressive

As a member of the West Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce, I was privileged to be in attendance at the Youth Conference for Community Progress sponsored by the chamber Jan. 15. I wish that everyone who reads about delinquent children and sees news stories on TV about violence among teens could have been there with me. Thirty-six children from 19 West Anne Arundel County elementary schools were facilitated by six students from Old Mill, Arundel and Meade high schools to gather examples of local charities which they would like to assist financially, discuss the merits of each and come to a consensus on the charity of choice.

The students were insightful, articulate and focused as they discussed the various options available. They showed not only an awareness of community issues and needs, but also an ability to negotiate and identify the most beneficial approach for the group. As a former teacher, I was proud of the youngsters, impressed with the school system that has produced these students and the parents who have encouraged them, and glad to be a part of the chamber and this project in particular.

Sarah's House was identified as the recipient of the funds which will be collected through the chamber's Cents for Community Campaign.

andra Jackson

Pasadena

The writer is outreach coordinator for Partners in Care, Inc.

History of excellence in non-revenue sports

I would like to elaborate on the comments by Nelson G. Markley of College Park concerning the outstanding success of the non-revenue sports programs at the University of Maryland.

As an assistant athletic director with the non-revenue sports programs at the University of Maryland since 1982, I can assure your readers and education writer Mike Bowler that the success at College Park is not just a recent occurrence.

Our tradition of excellence in non-revenue sports began in the '60s. Track, baseball, wrestling, soccer, swimming, tennis, golf and lacrosse dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Beginning in the late '70s and through the present day, our women's programs have been nationally ranked in lacrosse, field hockey, volleyball, soccer, basketball and tennis.

The past and current achievements of our men's and women's programs are due to the dedication of our coaches and student-athletes, a tradition which shall continue.

Gothard A. Lane

Chesapeake Beach

Pub Date: 2/09/97

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