Letters at Length December 14

A medical home for uninsured children

Chris Honoré is to be commended for his series drawing attention to the plight of Oregon's children during the current economic recession. I wish to comment on his Dec. 5 piece about Jackson County children without health insurance. His source notes 4,600 children thus affected, of which Ashland has its share. We know this from the increased demand for services at Ashland's Community Health Center (I serve on their Board of Directors).

It might help uninsured families here to know that the Community Health Center, not only in Ashland, but at all three of its clinic sites, offers a free initial visit for each uninsured child, including medications and immunizations if needed. A program emphasizing care for uninsured children called "Every Child Can Have a Medical Home" began in 2005 and has served more than 4500 children since.

Subsequent visits are billed on a sliding-fee scale depending on income.

Bilingual community outreach workers are available at all clinic sites to assist families with the Oregon Health Plan application process. All CHC clinic sites are staffed with board certified physicians, family nurse practitioners and licensed clinical social workers.

I don't wish to downplay the generosity of Ashland's other health care providers who serve the needs of the uninsured. A number of them donate volunteer time, consultation support and money to help. Community Health Center is a private, nonprofit primary and preventive care medical clinic and is supported in part by grant funding from the City of Ashland, Ashland Community Hospital, Jackson County, United Way, private foundations and many individual donors.

What surprises me is that having started in Ashland in 1972, many people still don't know about it. It is located at 99 Central Ave. Call before you come in: 482-9741. You can learn more by going to www.communityhealthcenter.org.

Dr. William Southworth

Ashland

Symbol of many faiths

The furor over removal of the giving tree at Bellview school skipped over one very important point: Why must the great majority of people bow to the "sensibilities" of a few who have different beliefs and values? Why can't those few just ignore what they don't like instead of trying to ruin it for everyone else? No one is forcing them to have a tree in their home. Why should they be able to force one to be removed from a public venue that was placed only to encourage the giving of gifts. Why do they have to ruin a wonderful, loving tradition?

I don't say that we should ignore the different beliefs of others. We can honor and respect them while still enjoying our own beliefs. Why do the minorities insist that we must always be so "politically correct" that the very act is incorrect and even hurtful for the vast majority? How can a gift-giving tree offend the sensibilities of anyone? The concept is ludicrous.

The gift-giving tree can be a symbol of many faiths, all celebrated in the month of December, when winter solstice was celebrated in pagan times. Historically, it has been found that the birth of Jesus most likely did not happen on Dec. 25, in the year 0, but no one knows for sure. And we cannot know for sure that the crucifixion happened in March or April (since Easter changes each year), but it is celebrated near the spring equinox, when pagans celebrated the rebirth of the earth for planting. Mistletoe was an integral part of pagan rites held by the Druids.

The point is, we celebrate our religious days and holidays at times that are convenient to our society, and we use a wide variety of symbols for those celebrations. Santa Claus is a symbol of the holiday season, but do we hear people railing against him as an offense to their religious beliefs?

I say to the principal of Bellview (and the school administration): Stop pandering to the very, very few who decide to be vocal. If you are afraid of offending a tiny handful of people, just hang a sign on the tree stating that it is a "gift-giving tree," not a Christmas tree. Don't put an angel or a star on the top and it is just a tree with pretty decorations — nothing religious about it (unless you are a Druid!). Let's stop the nonsense and get into the spirit of peace and unselfishness which signifies this season. Stop obsessing about symbols which can mean a variety of things to different people.

W. Gail Manchur

Ashland

Notary changes

For anyone needing to apply for a birth certificate, power of attorney and anything else needing a notary service, take heed! Rules governing how document signers may be identified by a notary are changing as of Jan. 1, 2010. This is the exact language by the state: "A new law affects how every Oregon Notary will identify document signers. It repeals existing provisions allowing for two non-photo IDs to be presented, and instead lists four types of identification that may now be accepted to identify signers: driver's license, passport, military ID and tribal ID." Also, you need to know that expired driver's licenses and IDs cannot be accepted forms of ID for notarial purposes.

So, if your current driver's license expires and you need to apply for a birth certificate in order to renew it, you may not have any form of ID that can be used to get the document signed in front of a notary. Also, elderly folks who wish to execute powers of attorney may also have expired IDs and be unable to easily get those important documents signed.

Therefore, I urge you to make sure you have a certified copy of your birth certificate issued by the state in which you were born (not the keepsake kind issued by the hospital which is not legally recognized) and to keep one of the forms of ID listed above current.

I offer mobile notary services in the Rogue Valley, and predominantly I see students and elderly folks having the most difficulty providing acceptable forms of ID in order to get necessary documents notarized.

Alert your student friends and anyone needing a power of attorney, birth certificate or other important documents signed and who may not have a valid, current ID as listed above, to get these things taken care of by year's end before it will become much more difficult. Sadly, post-9/11 fallout has finally made its way into the fabric of our daily lives.

Laura L. Smith

Ashland

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