Oxford House support
Read your article about Oxford House in Little Rock with considerable interest. My wife and I opened the first Oxford House in Arkansas back in March of 2008 — very similar reaction from most of the community up here at that time. Fear of "addicts" living next door in a nice community enveloped our little country town, and many town hall type meetings were held to talk this over.
It has now been five-plus years, and we have three Oxford Houses in Harrison, and hopefully more on the way. Virtually every community leader is a solid supporter of this concept, as they have seen that it works. We have had not one issue with the police or sheriff's office. Matter of fact, the Boone County sheriff is a big supporter of this concept, as is the police chief of Harrison. Also our mayor, both current and past; our Chamber of Commerce president; the CEO of the Hospital, heads of many local churches; most of the City Council, head of the economic development committee, etc. You get the point — now that our community has had a little time to observe what really happens in an Oxford House, i.e., the miracle of recovery, and a total commitment to a different life on the part of each member, we have decided to embrace, as a community, this approach to dealing with our out-of-control drug problem.
Texas has just spent a year investigating the Oxford House model, and just last month committed $1.2 million to fund multiple outreach workers. There are multiple outreach workers in Oklahoma (80 houses), Louisiana (70 houses), Tennessee has just hired 2 outreach workers, Kansas has a thriving outreach program (75 houses), there are 150 houses in North Carolina, South Carolina has begun an Oxford House outreach network, etc. What do these states know that we don't seem to see yet? There are almost 1,700 houses in 45 states, and other countries have approached Oxford House and asked for help in implementing their model abroad. This is a 40-year-old organization whose only goal is to help individuals achieve long-term recovery.
I do not work for Oxford House, but my wife and I feel fortunate to own a couple. Watching people get their self-esteem back through long-term recovery is a beautiful thing. If something else worked, we would have tried it up here in Harrison, but this is the best model by far that we could find, and most importantly, it works!
Criticism of Obama undeserved
This is in response to Judge Wendell Griffin's criticism of President Obama's speech (May 30) to the graduating class at Morehouse College last month. I have listened to the speech three times to understand the objections of Judge Griffin. However, as a 66-year-old African-American male, I am in complete agreement with the content of the speech, and more specifically the challenge and opportunities posed that await the talented graduates of Morehouse. The points articulated by the president were no different from the advice that I received from my parents, my church and my community as a child growing into adulthood. Was the president's speech addressed solely to Morehouse graduates, or to blacks or both? I feel the speech was appropriately targeted for both audiences. It was a charge and a reminder for us to give our very best in order to realize utmost achievements for our families and our communities. The charge is not easy, and as African Americans we already know that. But the rich legacy of Morehouse men mentioned in the president's speech has laid the path/shown the way to achieve despite all the odds. Nevertheless, some viewed the speech as motivational and inspirational and the "reminder of things we've heard many times," while others such as Judge Griffin had a contrary opinion.
In stating his criticism, I hoped that Judge Griffin would have shared advice on what challenged/motivated him to be successful. What prompted and inspired him in achieving his professional goals? What "reminders" and other messages would he suggest to replace parts of the president's speech that he found objectionable? I would suggest that Judge Griffin listen to the recent commencement speeches last month from the First Lady at Bowie State, Bill Clinton at Howard University, Corey Booker at Yale or former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at Bard College. Collectively, the speeches have similar content to the president's message at Morehouse, specifically encouraging continued accomplishment and contribution among the new generation of college graduates.
I have my disagreements with some of President Obama's policies, but the commencement speech at Morehouse is not one of them.
Apt Middle East take
How refreshing it was to read an informed column (May 23) concerning the Sunni Shia divide in the Middle East. Much of the struggle there can be attributed to that divide. Yet, most commentators seem to be ignorant of this divisive element. So thanks to Ernest Dumas for illustrating the important dynamic of Sunni Shia differences in understanding the past as well as the present in Middle Eastern affairs.
From the web
In response to "No open doors for Oxford House" (cover story, June 6):
So these convicts and addicts. These "investors" and "outreach directors." These legislators who are pushing no-bid grant awards to pet providers — they would be OK with a house full of "recovering" child molesters in their neighborhood, right? As long as the perverts mopped the floor and voted on whose turn it was to take the trash out, I mean.
In response to the Arkansas Blog post "Blanche Lincoln on Mark Pryor's election chances" (June 9):
Let's suppose that Lincoln had faced no primary challenge. In that scenario, she might have voted against cloture on the Obamacare debate, thus killing the legislation. She would been condemned by many of her fellow Democrats, but she could have advertised — "She stopped Obamacare in the U.S. Senate." I think she could have run a competitive race for re-election with that ad, and possibly survived.
Of course, we'll never know for sure.
The narrative has changed over time. When Lincoln was running for re-election, she was portrayed as "the deciding vote on Obamacare." Now that ultimate appellation is given to Pryor in the current ads.
Sorry, Pryor-haters. You are as far removed from reality as the right wing-nuts. Run a truly liberal candidate and you hand the seat to the Republicans. Just travel around the state a little bit and you'll see what I'm talking about.
The fact that I wish it weren't true doesn't change it. Just like the right-wingers want to wish climate change isn't real doesn't lower the amount of CO2 in the air or heal the hole in the ozone.
What if handing the Pryor seat to the Republicans shifts control of the Senate to the Republicans? Then they control committee chairs, confirmation processes, etc.
The stakes are too high. Pryor's the only one with half a chance to keep the seat out of Republican hands. And half a chance is better than no chance at all.
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