Monday, May 11, 2009

How Would I Change the Prison System?

To Senator Jim Webb

To answer the above question [How Would I Change the Prison System?], I would start from outside the prisons. One, eliminate the number of people entering the prison. This involves having numerous prevention programs for young people.

During the late 60's and 70's I supervised a program in a project area where we provided classes for adults and children, utilizing 30 volunteers, job corp, and PHEAA students. The four women aides, employed, helped me keep the program open from 9-9. These four women supervised the adult volunteer group, all in turn supervised the college students and the college students supervised the high school students. Every person involved was responsible for planning the executing a simple, fun filled program for all children in the area from toddler to 16 years of age. We even started a daring program of paying 12 year olds $2.00 per hour for specific skills when they became proficient and the arts, needlework, or writing.

Each Friday afternoon I closed the program and had everyone involved write a report about their work. Social work students from the University of Pittsburgh evaluated the program and put the results in report sighting the importance of preventive measures although prevention is difficult to statistically prove.

It seems our society would rather gather statistical evidence that crimes have
been committed than prevent them.

I have kept the results of a very successful program between 1968 and 1978 to utilize if our country ever comes to its senses and realizes how valuable prevention can be to the whole society.

The cost of this program, effecting 20+ students, 4 aides, 30 volunteers and one social worker and myself totaled less than one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, not including the job corp and PHEAA students.

My question of this congress is why would you spend up to fifty to seventy-five thousand dollars to keep so many in jail when you could effect the lives of twenty rather than one or two.

The materials are all available to replicate this program nationwide and I am confident that there are massive numbers of people with talent who would readily volunteer if a well developed program were implemented.

I have visited the Region Five facility in Western Pennsylvania and am saddened by the number of young people who reside there because our society has failed them.

It is time to make a change.

Thank you,

Carol E. Burrows

(Former Director of Social Development for the Redevelopment
Authority of Monessen, Pa. and Director of the non-profit organization Everyday
People which was forced out of business by the shortsightedness of the people
who saw no advantage in providing wholesome daily activities for our youth.)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Home Economics Got No Respect

If there ever was a Rodney Dangerfield curriculum it had to be Home Economics. It got no respect. Now it is nearly forgotten but sorely needed--to be politically correct, our youth are in need of life skills.

At my recent fiftieth class reunion the president of the college said, " there are few self-sufficient students on campus."

Have you heard the term 'helicopter parents?' They are parents who are hovering over their children. Since they did not encourage their children to learn basic skills they are asking who is going to provide these services to their children. Skills such as doing laundry, clothing care, budgeting, manners, and basic organization to name just a few.

When colleges began to dismantle their Home Ec. departments the domino effect also affected high schools. As if to compensate for the loss of a general subject area parts of the curriculum were spun off under other departments. There is no longer a cohesive unit that can prepare the person with some basics in foods, clothing, child development, family living and leisure time skills.

There are some questions that you might like to address and I would certainly like some answers:

1. Is our high divorce rate among professionals due somewhat to incompetence in the home? Is it possible to have it all: home, work, and children without some knowledge of how a home has to function or how children develop? Do we only need education for professional work?

2. Have we sold our souls to the "company store" where all of our time is consumed by work and leisure time is irrelevant? Hobbies and particular skills can sometimes help people through tough times both economically and psychologically.

3. Is our total economic well-being dependent on someone else's production? Meal preparation, gifts, entertainment, clothing housing and housing repairs--can we live our entire life without doing any mundane tasks by ourselves?

4. Are people we love being neglected or are demands being placed on some of our loved ones to make it possible for us to live our current life style? In our fast paced world with so much on our calendars do we really have time for each other?

Relax! Let's find out what is missing, if anything and address the problem, if there is a problem!

Please help me gather information that will help the next generation be successful. Maybe we need to develop a new nationwide curriculum to meet the current needs while there are still a few skilled people alive to help develop a life skills program.

I have an article someplace that I've misplaced that gives statistics on No. 1; I have written a briefer story about No. 2 and will write other examples for 3 and 4.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hobbies and Leisure Time to Riches

The rewards are great! When a job is less than fulfilling or difficult at best a hobby can bring great rewards and even some economic stability. Unemployment always comes at a most inconvenient time.

It hit us when our daughter was in college, we were subsidizing a self-help program for low-income people and I was teaching. Thank goodness I had a little extra time in the summer to take on some additional work. I had always met the challenge of teaching clothing and textiles by using my skills to do alterations for a few people who became regular customers. When my husband lost his job I alerted all my 'regulars' that I was looking for additional work. The first month I put out the alert I earned more money sewing than I had in a monthly salary teaching.

One particular instance brought me additional customers. A young woman, who was the niece of one of my regular customers, wanted her mother's Italian lace wedding gown altered to fit her. She had taken it to a prominent local department store which is now out of business. The price they quoted to her was several hundred dollars. They simply looked at the exquisite, fine detailed expensive lace garment and priced their services accordingly.

Her Aunt referred her to me and I was able to do the alterations for the grand sum of $10.00. It was a joy to work on such a fine piece of material. It was a challenge I enjoyed and since I charged by the hour what I received at the time was a fair price. As a result of the one simple, enjoyable task I received many interesting projects from other family members. And there are also some side benefits to those of us who sew. We love fabric and we sometimes love expensive fabric that we hesitate to spend money on even in the best of times. A member of this same family also wanted a new lining put into a fur jacket. When she went to buy her very expensive lining material, embossed satin, she, of course, was advised to purchase too much. Since no one in her family ever did sewing, she had no use for the unused part.

Besides being paid I received the remnant, which was far more costly than the amount I was paid.

It was a win-win situation and even though it was the result of my professional training, it was a skill anyone could learn to help themselves or others.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

High Divorce Rate Among Professionals?

Is our high divorce rate among professionals due somewhat to
incompetency in the home? Refer to article "Changes in Women and