I am writing on behalf of the staff at Insights Teen Parent Program, our client Michelle Fischer and the other thousand-plus young families Ñ both housed and homeless Ñ who we serve every year in Multnomah County.

We were angry and disappointed after reading the story 'Their baby, your money' (Dec. 14). This so-called 'news' story about a homeless, parenting young family was both lacking in compassion and obviously judgmental, beginning with the headline.

Our hope is that the readers of the Portland Tribune are not lacking in compassion and are able to see the many accomplishments already achieved by this young family. The services and support that Michelle, Chad and their new baby, Zane, are receiving, are creating success for their young family.

Despite the couple's past choices, they are resourceful, joyful parents who are doing as much as they can to provide for their baby.

With prevention and intervention services, the generational cycle of abuse can end with Michelle, and baby Zane will not be punished because Michelle and Chad, two previously homeless teenagers, happen to be his parents.

We strongly disagree with the position of the Cascade Policy Institute's John Charles, who believes that a homeless teen family is a problem brought about by a welfare state. Rather, it is our experience that having services for people in need neither influences nor decides the life choices that they make. An individual's choice is much more likely to be influenced by family history and opportunity than by services that are paid for by taxpayers.

Belle Bennett

Development director, Insights Teen Parent Program

Southeast Portland

These parents needed a mentor

I know anyone can be down on their luck, but I was saddened at the comments made by Michelle Fischer and Chad Lombard (Their baby, your money, Dec. 14).

Fischer 'relies on food stamps, $427 a month in state welfare and the good will of others to pay their bills.' She is described as 'not one to follow anyone else's rules.' This could be why she's in this situation. Fischer is not tough, strong-willed or determined. She has learned to be a user, and work the system.

For Lombard to make the comments 'services are here for the taking,' and 'This town is a lot easier to be homeless in,' speaks volumes to his character.

Why should we as taxpayers keep paying for their lack of responsibility? Still, Fischer and Lombard probably never had mentors or some place to go for guidance, and while telling them now to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and ask for God's guidance is good in theory, the actual answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Georgia Flynn

Southeast Portland

Someone foots bill for 'free' medical care

Wouldn't it be perfect if the United States had free medical care? One small problem: Who would pay for it? There is no free medical care anywhere in the world Ñ the taxpayers foot the bill.

It seems to me that Michelle Fischer did receive free care to the tune of $3,800 (Their baby, your money, Dec. 14). I hope when she grows up to be a responsible, working taxpayer she will reimburse the state the $3,800.

John Hazard


Closing Northeast YMCA was unfair

I went to both hearings that YMCA board members held to explain the closing of the Northeast Portland Y (Is YMCA a sinking ship?, Dec. 10). We heard that the Northeast YMCA cannot sustain itself from membership fees and that not enough money can be raised to renovate and expand it, something the majority of the members never asked for.

Attendees at both open meetings pleaded with Jeff Spere and Bob Hall to keep the Northeast YMCA open. Many offered to raise money, donate money and accept higher membership fees.

Spere responded that the required $6 million to $7 million cannot be raised, that increasing dues would only reduce membership, and that the YMCA, after all, operates in the black.

Spere was asked during one of the meetings if the Northeast YMCA already had a prospective buyer, to which he responded with a clear 'no.' We then learned from news reports that offers had been made, and that there are other issues, such as the damaged roof of the Metro Y, that caused a loss of membership and financial difficulties. How are we to get rid of the nagging feeling that the real reason for the planned sale of the only east-side YMCA is to bail out other facilities?

Gary Calaba

Northeast Portland

ESPN couldn't stop blabbing about Irish

Oregon State crushed Notre Dame and made us all proud. However, I was offended by the ESPN coverage and the nonstop talk about Notre Dame.

They showed us the Notre Dame crowd, cheerleaders, mascot, etc., and talked forever about the coaching situation. The Beavers kicked butt, and we didn't get to see our fans, mascot, etc., because it was all about the Fighting Irish.

When will the West Coast and the Pac-10 get some respect?

Patti Waitman-Ingebretsen

Southwest Portland

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