Deborah Hearn Smith: Things to work on this summer

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HearnAs I sit and marvel at the first flowers of the season, my spirits are lifted with the anticipation of warmer, longer days ahead. I sit on my porch and observe neighbors walking their dogs and children riding their new bikes, and I am filled with hope that spring brings. After a long, dark winter, spring reminds us of new birth and hope.

Just as I settle into this state of joy, the news of multiple shootings over the weekend comes over the news, and I am shocked into the reality that warm weather also ushers in a time of increased violence in our streets. Too many of our young live without hope, and now with the summer months and good weather, they have the opportunity to engage in activities that will destroy the quality of life in our city.

The forces working to influence our young are strong. There are programs available at low or little cost during the summer to engage our young both mentally and physically. Hats off to the youth programs of the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, Jewish Community Center, the Mayor’s Office and Girl Scouts who operate fully developed research- and experience-based program with declining philanthropic support.

As funders look for the new and exciting, the long-term, successful programs struggle to survive. One recent program that has seen great results is the youth employment program started by Marianne Glick. We need more like her who see the need and roll up their sleeves and get things done.

We are finishing a session of the Legislature to mixed results. Some progress was achieved but not enough. The issues around violence, guns and hate crimes were only marginally addressed. The privileged members of the Legislature were only willing to protect some who are victims of hate. It is my belief that, since the legislators are never a victim, they have little understanding or empathy of how it feels on the other side. Their actions leave the state and city without some of the tools that would help us with the mounting problems we face.

Teacher pay is still unresolved at the time of this column. Those who develop the minds of our most vulnerable should not be at the bottom of the earning scale.

So as the state takes a brief break, let’s not let the summer lull us into complacency. During this time, many study committees and groups are developing plans and the agenda for the next legislative session. Stay engaged.

On the national level, it is hard to believe the amount of noise the presidential race is attracting so early. Don’t let the clutter distract your attention from the real issues we face as a nation. Watch for policy issues—not tweets. There are real issues that will decide what type of nation we will be as we move forward.

So as we all relax and enjoy a great Indiana summer, our work for a better community, state and country will continue.

This summer, I suggest we all do three things:

◗ On a local level, sponsor a child in a summer program. Help a child before he or she becomes a victim.

◗ On the state level, watch at the end of the legislative session to see what is referred to study committees this summer and get involved.

◗ And finally, watch the national scene, both the executive and legislative branch, for the real issues.

Summer is a time to relax but not sleep: Stay alert. Our world is counting on you.•


Smith is former CEO of the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana. Send comments

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