“An American tragedy” is how one longtime local Red Cross volunteer describes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other issues faced by military members.
“The psychological stress that many members of the armed forces face — problems such as PTSD and suicide — is an American tragedy that will get worse and worse unless the issue is addressed now,” said Fred Vallongo, a volunteer with the Greater Toledo Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Vallongo is a volunteer mental health worker for the local Red Cross chapter as well as a national instructor for the organization’s Reconnection Workshops. The workshops are designed to offer support and education to service members and their families.
“Toledo and Northwest Ohio are historically military-friendly areas. We have high numbers of people who enlist in the military and a lot of the problems we face are reconnecting families (after deployment),” said Vallongo, a veteran who served as a Navy hospital corpsman in the Marine Corps and has been involved with the Red Cross for 17 years. “For every joyful reunion that is shown on the local news, there is always a tenser issue somewhere else.”
The Reconnection Workshops range from lessons on communicating clearly to exploring stress and trauma. Family members also learn how to identify signs of depression in their loved ones and what they can do to help.
Other workshops are available to returning military members who have difficulty preparing for deployment or assimilating back to their lives at home. The classes include topics such as “Working Through Anger” and “Relating to Children” and provide military members with the counseling and information needed to reconnect with their families.
The local Red Cross chapter also provides an emergency communications service that directs messages from family members to active military members wherever they are stationed.
“The military relies on the Red Cross to verify the conditions of an emergency back home,” said Ken Robinson, Red Cross regional director of programs and services. “Sometimes the emergencies are happy news, such as a recent birth, but most of the calls received are for sad news regarding a death in the family.”
After a family reaches out to the Red Cross with their personal emergency, the organization immediately contacts the hospital or funeral home to confirm details. An official message is then sent overseas to another Red Cross office closer to the family’s service member. A military officer responds before relaying the message to the intended receiver, who can then formally ask the unit’s commander for temporary leave.
The Greater Toledo Area Chapter delivered between 300 and 400 emergency messages last year, Robinson said.
“At the local level, we also do family follow-ups (after sending the message) to find out how the family members are doing or if they need anything through our resources,” Robinson said. “Once we’re confident that the family is OK, we will close up the case.”
Volunteers are always needed and appreciated, Vallongo said.
“Less than 1 percent of the population serves in a uniform that helps protect our country,” Vallongo said. “Servicemembers, firefighters, police officers — those people risk their lives every day for our safety. They have a heavy load to carry for the rest of us. I encourage the other 99 percent of us to find ways to help those brave men and women. If you look for a way to help, I’ll guarantee you’ll find a way.”
To learn more about Red Cross service programs for veterans and military families, contact the local chapter at (419) 329-2900. Volunteer inquiries and donations can be offered by visiting www.redcrosstoledo.org or www.redcross.org.
Archive for June, 2012
“An American tragedy” is how one longtime local Red Cross volunteer describes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other issues faced by military members.
Every day, the horrors of war push at least one Iraq or Afghanistan war veteran to commit suicide — a statistic that 1,600 new mental health professionals throughout the nation’s Veterans Affairs (VA) system will soon begin fighting.
The federal announcement of the increase in clinic staff follows a 35 percent increase in demand for mental health help across the country, said Rep. Marcy Kaptur. She said the change is a transformative one.
“This is a legislative battle that I have fought in Washington since my early years. It’s been three decades of effort to try to get the Department of Veterans Affairs to give equal attention to neurological damage as they do to spinal cord injury,” Kaptur said.
At least nine of the new mental health professionals are coming to the Toledo and Ann Arbor region, following a few years of increased mental health service requests.
Since 2007, the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, which operates Toledo’s Outpatient VA Clinic, has added 30 percent more mental health staff, said Robert McDivitt, director of the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.
The announcement also coincides with Toledo’s new outpatient VA clinic, slated to open this fall. The current clinic on Glendale Avenue was built in 1978 and covers 30,000 square feet. It will move into a new space at 1200 S. Detroit Ave. that will cover 66,000 square feet. McDivitt said the system expects to care for 12,000 veterans this year. A few years ago the clinic was handling at least 2,000 fewer patients.
The Toledo clinic has 110 staff members and the new one will employ about 122.
“We really outgrew the space,” McDivitt said.
Increased local services
In the past, patients needing cardiac stress testing, diagnostic testing for blood flow problems and audiology testing services had to travel to Ann Arbor for treatment. But the Toledo clinic has added some of these services within the past year, and will soon build on them further with the new building.
Doctors will be able to perform occupational therapy in the new facility, a service not available at the Glendale Avenue location, said Leo Greenstone, associate chief of staff for ambulatory care.
The system is also recruiting a psychologist to conduct compensation and pension exams for the first time in Toledo, a service that vets were traveling to Cleveland for in the past, McDivitt said.
Telemedicine has helped boost treatment at the Toledo clinic as well, linking a doctor in Ann Arbor into a video conference with patients in Toledo to save local veterans a few trips north, said Stephen Chermack, chief of mental health.
Caring for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a process that varies with each veteran, Chermack said. Treatment typically consists of a combination of pharmaceutical drugs and psychotherapy. He said some veterans choose to stabilize other factors in their lives before starting to address memories that trigger depression and reoccurring, disturbing thoughts.
More work needed
Kaptur said more work still needs to be done. Patients will still be unable to access infusion treatments for cancer.
A free bus transports 40 to 60 veterans a day from the Toledo clinic to the Ann Arbor hospital.
“The Ann Arbor Veterans Hospital is a massive facility and because it’s so large it consumes a lot of time in finding parking. We have vets who go up there for cancer infusions, they’re made to wait all day to go back on the bus and it’s not very pleasant,” Kaptur said. “And for those with neurological conditions, you have to have services close to where people live and work. To make someone travel an hour and wait all day and wait weeks for an appointment doesn’t work.”
The Arms Forces
A Maumee woman founded a nonprofit called The Arms Forces in 2009 because of what she saw as a lag in services for people suffering from traumatic brain injury and PTSD. Pam Hays, herself a traumatic brain injury survivor, has since linked at least 200 veterans to services that will help them cope. She and a volunteer coordinator are the main operators of the organization.
“It’s a complicated, convoluted system for anyone, and if you have someone coming back with a brain injury or PTSD, they’re going to have cognitive challenges and they’re going to have a much more difficult time accessing that system,” Hays said. “The way we try to do everything is very simplified. We want to meet [veterans] where they are rather than get them to go through hoops to find help.”
The Ann Arbor system is adopting a similar model by initiating an outreach program that sends social workers into communities to search for veterans who may not be linked to VA health services yet, McDivitt said. The system now has six outreach workers who work with homeless and formerly homeless vets.
The new Toledo clinic is designed to not only serve medical needs but educational needs as well. McDivitt described the new layout as a “healing environment,” equipped with a coffee shop and Internet cafe where families can gather. The new site will feature a veteran resource center and a community meeting room, as well as a “wall of heroes” on which Toledo-area veterans can post their photographs. The design of the new place is “bright, open and sunny,” touched with artwork that is centered around veterans, he said.
“Our mission here in the VA begins with the three words, ‘Honor America’s veterans,’ and you’re going to see that mission reflected from the time the veteran comes in the new clinic until he or she leaves,” McDivitt said.
For more information, visit www.annarbor.va.gov.
One night when I was quite little my family was doing some laundry at a laundromat. I was granted a rare and thrilling trip to the laundromat vending machines, where I carefully selected Sea-Monkeys as my momentary childhood Holy Grail. Sea-Monkeys are souped up, well-marketed-to-children brine shrimp that transform from seemingly lifeless eggs into live sea creatures right before one’s very eyes.
As I recall, the packet I received out of the machine contained a powdery substance of some sort. While my head said, “living creature not for human consumption” my heart must have said, “hmm, looks like Fun Dip,” because the next thing I know I had eaten some of my newly-acquired sea pets. I remember almost instantly shifting from enjoying my Sea-Monkeys delicacy to picturing the fascinating little creatures swimming ominously around in my stomach. As soon as I was able to summon the courage, I quickly revealed my childish idiocy to my parents. I assume there was no real harm in my foolishness, as the story ended there as far as I can tell (as opposed to in the nearest emergency room).
A memory that is still capable of serving up early childhood fare is a great gift when it comes to writing fodder. However, it is somewhat unwelcome when it comes to raising children. I can recall many of my own ridiculous mistakes and general senseless acts of childhood in decent detail, which tends to plague my mind on a daily basis. I can’t help but watch my children grow through a lens called “WWIHDATA” or “What Would I Have Done at Their Age?” My childhood disaster-preventing device is fairly effective, but even it fails to protect my children on occasion.
While stopping into a store to briefly shop for some overdue girls’ summer sandals, I saw my six-and-a-half-year-old (the half is her insistence) begin to fall in my peripheral vision. She was kneeling on a bench maybe two feet off of the ground when she started to lose her balance. Before I could quite process what was happening, I watched my beautiful, perfect daughter, Laney, smash face first into a thin layer of carpeting over what I can only assume was a thick layer of concrete.
A little confused as to why she wasn’t able to catch herself, the reason became abundantly clear as soon as I pulled her to her feet. As I attempted to block out her horrific screaming and crying, I caught my first glimpse of what had gone terribly wrong. Just like I had done myself many a time as a child, Laney had tucked both of her arms into the confines of her T-shirt … thus throwing her balance off … thus rendering her incapable of stopping her face from hitting the floor.
Seconds after the waterworks came the bloodbath. Out the nose, out the mouth, down the throat. Gross.
Thankfully, an assistant manager and mother of five angel-of-the-moment quickly swooped in to take control of the situation. She assessed Laney’s injuries, worked to stop the bleeding, sent for ice and filled out an incident report as I concentrated on not passing out. I eventually kicked it into gear and managed to hold it together all by myself a couple of hours later when Laney vomited all over the back seat of our van on the way home from the doctor’s office. Just when you think there is nothing funny about bloody noses, loosened teeth and concussion scares, Laney declared, “If I knew it would make me throw up I would have spit the blood out instead of swallowing it.” Uh huh, I see.
Who knew that it’s not a natural inclination to spit blood out instead of swallowing it? Who knew that a six-and-a-half-year-old might not be able to stop herself from a 2-foot fall? I should have known because I once ate Sea-Monkeys at the laundromat.
At least as a parent you kind of get used to the sudden, didn’t-see-it-coming drama. Aside from $80 worth of popsicles and a pediatrician’s time, an afternoon from hell, a canceled date night and a really bad memory, there was no real harm in Laney’s childhood foolishness. When you have your first kid you might rush to the ER but after three kids and an ER frequent buyer card, you at least have the luxury of taking a few minutes to stay and purchase the sandals you came in for.
Shannon and her husband, Michael, are raising three children in Sylvania. Email her at email@example.com.
Beaming from ear to ear and waving two American flags to the music of a concert band, World War II veteran Jim Hansen expressed himself perfectly, even though he can no longer talk. The 90-year-old Toledoan, who served with the Navy in the South Pacific, exuded joy during a June 20 welcome home celebration at the Grand Aire hangar in Swanton following Honor Flight Northwest Ohio’s most recent trip.
The nonprofit organization flies veterans to Washington, D.C., free of charge to visit the World War II Memorial, Korean War Memorial and other military memorials. Each veteran is accompanied by a guardian.
“He found out he was going on his 90th birthday,” said Hansen’s daughter Linda Yielding of Sylvania. “It was his 90th birthday present.”
Linda’s husband, Wayne Yielding, was Hansen’s guardian for the trip, which included 74 World War II veterans and two Korean War veterans. Two of the World War II veterans also served during the Korean War.
“The reception in D.C. was wonderful,” Wayne said. “It was pretty moving to say the least.”
Cherie Mourlam, assistant superintendent at Washington Local Schools, agreed.
“You just bawl all day,” said Mourlam, who accompanied 86-year-old World War II veteran Grover “Gene” Thorp of Fremont. “Then you walk in here and there’s the whole crowd and they’re clapping. He’s just so appreciative. He can’t believe it.”
Thorp, who served with the Army in the South Pacific, said he couldn’t pick a favorite part of the trip.
“Oh golly, all day,” Thorp said. “It was great. I can’t believe it.”
World War II veteran Donnan “Don” Marten, 90, of Bowling Green said he had a great trip, despite a heat index higher than 100 degrees.
“It was hotter than the devil, but they (Honor Flight) deserve a lot of credit,” said Marten, who served with the Army in Africa and Italy. “It was nice. It was beautiful, especially the Iwo Jima Memorial (United States Marine Corps War Memorial).”
Marten’s daughter, Deb Marten of Bowling Green, said her dad considered backing out of the trip because of the extreme heat, but was glad he decided to go. Marten’s grandson, Dane Fisher, stationed at nearby Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, even took the day off to meet up with his grandfather.
“It was wonderful he got to make that trip,” Deb said. “He’s been really excited. He went back and forth with the heat, ‘Should I go?’ But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m glad he did. He’ll never forget it.”
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 606 is among the local veterans organizations whose members attend each Honor Flight send-off and welcome-home celebration.
“You’ll see some go up in wheelchairs and when they come back they’ll say they can walk off the plane,” said VFW Post 606 member Bob Newman. “They get so pumped up over there seeing that stuff. One guy this morning (June 20) said while boarding the plane, ‘Wait, wait, I want to walk.’ He used a cane and went very, very slowly, but he made it. So the guy behind him in a wheelchair said, ‘Well, if he can do it, so can I.’ That’s just the way it is.”
Jerry Newman, also of VFW Post 606, has flown three times as a guardian.
“It’s always nice to be out there by these guys. You hear a lot of history on these flights,” Jerry said.
Priority for Honor Flights is given to World War II veterans and those with terminal illnesses. Korean War veterans are put on a waiting list and taken chronologically by their application postmark date.
“It’s a wonderful way of giving back to the members of ‘The Greatest Generation,’ many of whom did not get a welcome home,” said Honor Flight Northwest Ohio board member David Chilson. “Not everybody came back on a troop ship or through a train station. Many came back individually and were really never welcomed home or thanked for their service so this is a way of doing that.”
Chilson, a Navy veteran, has served as a guardian on nine Honor Flights.
“Honor Flight is much more than just seeing the memorials. It’s a chance to share the experience of the entire day with 70-some other veterans,” Chilson said. “What I hope they take away is that people still remember and are very appreciative for their service during World War II and during the Korean War and we still remember and honor them.”
World War II veteran Edward F. Lark of Toledo was scheduled to fly on June 20, but died in April. His folded flag was taken along in his honor and memory. His widow, Violet Lark, did not travel to Washington, D.C., but teared up as she carried the flag into the welcome home ceremony.
“They knew he wanted to go on this flight so bad and they said they would like to take the flag with them,” Lark said, adding that June 23 would have been the couple’s 67th wedding anniversary.
Army veteran Henrietta “Hank” Abrams, 87, said the trip was wonderful, but emotional.
“I cried so much today,” said Abrams, who served as a surgical technician in Texas and Iowa during World War II. “It was just wonderful. I really enjoyed it. It was amazing, it really was. I can’t really point out one thing. It was all just great.”
Navy veteran Marian Elfring of Swanton was a radio operator on the West Coast during World War II, while her husband, Marine Corps veteran Tony Elfring, served in the South Pacific, including at Iwo Jima. The couple made the June 20 trip together, accompanied by a mother-daughter team of guardians.
World War II veteran Walter “Bud” Rickheim Jr., of Temperance, said he loved the whole experience.
“It was a wonderful day, couldn’t be better,” said Rickheim, who served with the Navy in the Pacific. “It was all just great.”
The Honor Flight network, which includes 101 regional hubs in 39 states, was founded in 2005 and has flown more than 81,000 veterans to the memorials in Washington, D.C. The Northwest Ohio chapter started in 2008 and has since flown 1,083 veterans. June 20 was the group’s 25th flight and the third of five scheduled for 2012. The next flights are Aug. 29 and Sept. 26.
For more information or to apply as a veteran, guardian or volunteer, visit honorflightnwo.org.
They went through high school playing the same sports for the same team, and now that they’ve graduated, the Wawrzyniak brothers of Sylvania are still playing for the same team — their country.
Nicholas, Jacob and Scott Wawrzyniak all played football and hockey at St. Francis de Sales High School and all three are now in training for the armed forces, earning their degrees and their commissions at two of the country’s prestigious military academies.
Nicholas, 21, is entering his senior year at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.; Jacob, 19, is studying at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.; and Scott, 18, is about to join his oldest brother in Colorado Springs.
Nicholas said he was drawn to the military by the desire for something more challenging than a traditional college education. He found the combination of rigorous academics, military training and mandatory athletics appealing.
“I was looking for a challenge as far as education goes,” he said.
He’s majoring in systems engineering management and hopes to fly helicopters after graduation — a passion he discovered during an Air Force Academy summer program between his sophomore and junior years when he had a chance to fly with the 10th Helicopter Squadron in the Washington, D.C., area.
“I just fell in love with the idea,” he said.
Jacob considered the Air Force as well — in fact, he said, he applied to all four service academies — but decided on the Coast Guard Academy because it offered an opportunity to play football.
He also likes the Coast Guard because of its purpose, he said.
“I like the humanitarian mission and the Homeland Security, the defense part of it — stopping the smuggling of drugs and saving lives,” he said.
Scott, the youngest of the three brothers, said his first choice was actually the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., but the Navy told him he would need to attend a year of preparatory training before his four years of study, while the Air Force Academy would allow him to start right away. He said he hopes to cross-commission into the Navy after he graduates.
Scott said he’s always been fascinated by the Navy SEALs and would like to work in special operations.
“I love the competition,” he said. “I love being pushed to my full potential at all times, and there’s no room for error. You’ve got to be at the top of your game and you’re going to be part of the best team in the world at what they do.”
Scott and Jacob, who are only 11 months apart in age, have been workout partners since middle school.
“We’ve been pushing each other since probably sixth grade when we started working out together,” Scott said. “It’s always competitive — who can run faster, who can lift more — but always in a positive direction.”
Their father, Jeff, is an attorney with Affinia Group in Ann Arbor, and their mother, Kathy, teaches English at Penta Career Center in Perrysburg.
Jeff said the boys have always pushed each other.
“There’s definitely some competitiveness amongst the three of them,” he said.
Military service runs in the family. The brothers’ maternal and paternal grandfathers both served in the Army, one of their great-uncles served with the Marine Corps at Iwo Jima and two other great-uncles served in Korea.
“It’s really been kind of a family affair,” their father said.
For their parents, seeing their sons go into military training carries some worry — but also no small amount of pride.
“There’s a little bit of angst,” Jeff said, “but when you think of the things kids do today in terms of putting their time and their effort behind, this is a doggone noble thing to do, so we’re very proud of them.”
Jeff and Kathy’s youngest child and only daughter, Katie, will be a junior this fall at St. Ursula Academy. Her father said she’s considering military service too, possibly in the Coast Guard.
The oldest Wawrzyniak sibling, Nicholas, said the schools are selective and it’s not easy to get all the way through — which makes it even more meaningful to have both of his brothers and possibly his sister following in his footsteps.
“I’m very proud to be from that type of family,” he said.
In “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 2009,” writer Alan Moore may be revealing what certain societal watchdog groups have espoused all along – Harry Potter is the Antichrist. Moore’s long-running series brings together characters from literature and pop culture and the newest volume, out now, brings the story to present day and serves up a few sacred cows, namely J.K. Rowling’s famous boy-wizard.
In the last LOEG volume, we saw — spoiler alert — the League disband in 1969 and leader Mina Murray stuffed away in a loony bin. In “2009,” the world’s slipped further into turmoil and, with no League to defend it, become prime real estate for the prophesized Antichrist to set up shop. Moore, along with artist Kevin O’Neill, has filled his infamous series with boatloads of references to other works of fiction in many media, but this new installment marks a unique time when he’ll have to be extra-careful to avoid copyright and trademark infringements. Don’t expect any mentions of “Harry” or “Potter.”
What you may expect is some topical references, most especially a certain war that opens up “2009,” set in the fictional Mid-East country of “Q’umar.” Moore has claimed that he doesn’t really keep up with modern pop culture, so it will be of great interest to see how this new book continues his fine and often acid-tongued skewering of cultural icons. Past chapters have mostly centered on Victorian and Edwardian references; the previous “1969” revealed how our eternal League heroes fit in with more psychedelic times.
The “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” comics have grown increasingly dense since their 1998 inception, even to those readers who’ve followed right along with each new volume. It’s difficult to wholeheartedly recommend them to newbies, but if a prospective reader enjoys a good read that doesn’t involve superheroes, then this may be for them. If anything, they might even follow lines of sight back to their original literary and cultural foundations.
On June 27, the Area Office on Aging in Northwest Ohio published a warning to caution senior citizens about the dangers of extreme heat. This warning follows a prediction of “dangerously high levels” of heat index this week, the news release stated.
Older persons are the most vulnerable to heat-related illnesses, which are dramatically less apparent than violent weather conditions that cause physical destruction to the community. According to the news release, over 750 people died in Chicago in 1995 of heat-related deaths, and most of the victims were seniors.
The Office also cautions people about the danger pets encounter in extremely warm weather. In fact, a report from The Humane Society of the United States states pets are more susceptible to overheating and are much less efficient at cooling themselves than humans. According to the report, leaving a pet inside a parked vehicle even for a few minutes can increase the animal’s risk of heatstroke.
To combat the heat, the Area Office on Aging has published a list of cooling centers for seniors to use to cool down and remove themselves from potentially harmful situations, which is included below. They have also published tips for reducing the onset of heat-induced illness, such as avoiding heavy meals and caffeine, planning outdoor activities before noon and in the evening and drinking lots of water before thirst occurs.
The news release distinguishes between heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Heat exhaustion’s symptoms include headache, fatigue, thirst, blurred vision and nausea, while heatstroke is a more serious condition, identified by the symptoms of heat exhaustion plus disorientation, seizures, hallucination, rapid heart beat, hot, dry skin and loss of consciousness.
Citizens are advised to call 911 immediately if heatstroke symptoms occur and if heat exhaustion symptoms are not improved with air conditioning and water.
Lucas County, June 28-29
East Toledo Senior Center, 419.691.2254
J. Frank Troy Senior Center, 419. 255.6206
1001 White Street, Toledo
1235 Division Street, Toledo
Open TH-F: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Open TH-F: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Friendship Park Senior Center, 419.936.3079
Zablocki Senior Center, 419.936.3090
2930 131st Street, Toledo
3015 Lagrange Street, Toledo
Open TH-F: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm
Open TH: 7:30 am – 7:30 pm
Open F: 7:30 am – 7:00 pm
Margaret Hunt Senior Center, 419.385.2595
Sylvania Senior Center, 419.885.3913
2121 Garden Lake Pkwy, Toledo
7140 West Sylvania Avenue, Sylvania
Open TH-F: 8:30 am – 3:30 pm
Open TH-F: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
Eleanor Kahle Senior Center, 419.476.2745
Community Development Center, 419.865.4700
1315 Hillcrest Drive, Toledo
330 Oak Terrace Blvd. (Western Lucas Co.), Holland
Open TH-F: 8:30 am – 4:00 pm
Open TH-F: 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Senior Center Inc., 419.242.9511
Maumee Senior Center, 419.893.1994
2308 Jefferson Avenue, Toledo
2430 South Detroit Avenue, Toledo
Open TH-F: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Open TH-F: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Mayores Senior Center, 419.242.1144
Hancock Senior Center, 419.698.7078
Two Aurora Gonzales Drive, Toledo
5760 Bayshore Road, Oregon
Open TH: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
Open TH-F: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Open F: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
East Toledo Family Center, 419.691.1429
1020 Varland Avenue, Toledo
Open TH-F: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
Defiance County Senior Center M-F 7:00-3:00
Hicksville Area Senior Center M-F 9:00-3:00
Erie County Senior Center, Sandusky M-F 8:00-4:30
Fulton County Senior Center, Wauseon M-F 8:00-4:00
Henry County Senior Center, Napoleon M-F 8:00-4:30
Danbury Senior Center, Lakeside-Marblehead M-F 9:00-2:00
Elmore Senior Center T, TH 10:00-2:00
Oak Harbor Senior Center M, W 10:00-2:00
Port Clinton Senior Center T, TH, F 10:00-2:00
Put-In-Bay Senior Center M-F Call for hours: 419.285.5501
Paulding County Senior Center M-F 8:00-4:00
Sandusky County Senior Center, Fremont M-F 9:00-2:30
Clyde Senior Center M-F 10:00-2:00
Woodville Senior Center M-F 10:00-2:00
Gibsonburg Senior Center M-F 10:00-2:00
Bryan Senior Center M-F 8:00-4:00
Edgerton Senior Center M-F 9:00-2:00
Edon Area Senior Center M-F 8:00-2:00
Montpelier Senior Center M-F 8:00-4:00
Pioneer Senior Center M-TH 9:00-3:00
Stryker Senior Center M-F 9:00-2:00
West Unity Senior Center M-F 8:00-4:00
North Baltimore Area Senior Center M-F 8:30-4:30
Northeast Area Senior Center, Walbridge M-F 8:30-4:30
Pemberville Area Senior Center M-F 10:00-2:00
Rossford Area Senior Center M-F 8:30-4:30
Wayne Area Senior Center M-F 10:00-2:00
Wood County Senior Center M, TH 8:00-5:00; T, W 8:00-7:00; F 8:00-4:00
Perrysburg Area Senior Center M-F 8:30-4:00
After last year’s Round Up Hunger campaign raised $5,975 for Feed Lucas County Children (FLCC), Executive Director of FLCC Tony Siebeneck is excited to see its return and hopefully, growth.
“I think we’re going to see more funds raised because the public is getting more informed on the child hunger issue,” Siebeneck said.
The campaign will occur over over a two week period, July 1-14. During this time, customers at both of Walt Churchill’s Market locations (3320 Briarfield Blvd. in Maumee and 26625 Dixie Highway in Perrysburg) will be asked if they want to “round up” their total purchase amount to the next whole dollar, with the difference going to help FLCC build their new community kitchen.
Columbia Gas of Ohio, Toledo Free Press and Walt Churchill’s Market partnered to sponsor this campaign.
“It gives everyone the chance to feel like they’re making a difference. Even if it’s a small amount out of someone’s budget, when we put it together, it can make a difference,” said Chris Kozak, communications manager at Columbia Gas.
Kunal Dawar, assistant store manager and grocery director at Walt Churchill’s Market in Maumee said that last year, one customer donated $50.
“You can definitely give more if you so choose,” Dawar said.
FLCC aims to feed children that live below the poverty line in Lucas County by serving free, nutritious meals at various community locations throughout the day. FLCC serves the community all year long, but its busiest time of the year is summer. Since 2002, the organization has fed more than 700,000 children 18 and younger. This summer, FLCC is serving from over 80 countywide locations.
“I was so impressed with what [Tony] does, and the impact he has on the lives of children across Lucas County. It’s inspiring to see someone do something that has that impact. We’re honored to be a part of the program,” Kozak said.
FLCC had made such an impact on the area that the organization was recently called upon to speak to the state Senate on child summer hunger.
“I did a conference call when the Senate was in session because they wanted a real understanding of the summer hunger issue and they were impressed by the Lucas County program,” Siebeneck said. “Out of the  counties in Ohio, about 10 have no food program in place during the summer for kids.”
Siebeneck said that with the creation of the organization’s new community kitchen, where all the meals are prepared and distributed, FLCC could possibly be the first county in Ohio to end summer hunger. Twenty-four thousand kids live at or below the poverty line in Lucas County, and this kitchen would be able to feed 20,000 children a day, Siebeneck said.
“We already have the building (for the new kitchen) identified,” Siebeneck said. “Right now we just need every living soul to re-direct their philanthropy to this kitchen, just for one year. It will give back for decades down the road.”
The new kitchen will continue to provide healthy, FDA-approved meals, Siebeneck said.
“When the Ohio Department of Education released higher standards (for school meals) in January and February, we were already meeting or exceeding 95 percent of the standards,” Siebeneck said.
On any given day in June, the number of meals delivered may be 3,400, but it drastically increases to about 6,000 in July, for no identified reason, Siebeneck said.
He said the organization has outgrown its Downtown rented space in the old Macomber High School building on Monroe Street. Siebeneck said they will keep their old equipment and purchase some new, bigger machines, along with two more prep tables and two unloading docks for semi trucks. The approximately 200 volunteers that FLCC uses will remain the same, Siebeneck said.
The Perrysburg location of Walt Churchill’s Market is in Wood County, which will soon be receiving assistance from FLCC.
“Next year we already know we’re going to be feeding kids in Wood County, south of Rossford,” Siebeneck said. “The percentage of kids eligible for reduced and free lunches is climbing in Perrysburg and Wood County schools. We have already had two groups contact us, so we will be feeding kids there next summer. So the campaign will benefit Wood County as much as Lucas.”
Siebeneck said hunger doesn’t have any boundaries.
“Even if we take other communities like Sylvania, Maumee, Oregon, the number of kids falling into the category (of poverty) each year is increasing,” Siebeneck said.
Siebeneck said by supplying food to be served at area community organizations such as churches, schools and other centers, FLCC is providing the foundation for them to grow and increase its visibility in the community.
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” Siebeneck said.
As I am writing this it is Wednesday afternoon and so much is scheduled to take place by the weekend when you will likely read this. Thursday, the Supreme Court is said to come out with their ruling on “Obamacare,” between now and Monday several leaders of the European Union are supposed to get together and come up with another plan that no one will implement. In the meantime, every day brings either good news or bad news about our economy and the market reacts, or should I say overreacts, accordingly.
One of the big things that caught my eye, however, is the story about China may not be giving out accurate numbers regarding its economy and that they may be worse off than previously thought.
When I first got into the business of investing money for people (1981, I am not as old as I look), I would regularly avoid investing in the Pacific Rim because back then we knew that these governments and the different industries always had two sets of books. One set was the real numbers and one was the numbers they showed to people. This was standard practice as was paying a price for the right numbers.
As time went on and China developed into the world’s largest emerging economy and No. 2 overall, many people have forgotten that two sets of books is still the norm. The quality and accuracy of the Chinese economic data is creating increasing concerns since this economic downturn is coinciding with the changeover in many top leadership positions.
Officials at all levels of government are under pressure to report good economic results to the powers that be in Beijing so they can receive promotions. This is especially evident in the usage of power around the country. Government officials don’t like to see negative numbers so they report power usage declines as zero change to the power managers up the line.
By the time it gets to the top, the numbers have been embellished so many times that the real numbers are no longer even close to reality. Everyone along the line knows this but they all pretend they don’t for the next manager up so they don’t get their head cut off.
One of the reality checks we can do as investors is to see what China is actually spending their money on and what economic policies they are putting in place. For example, recently, the reserves needed for their banks were lowered because banks were not lending enough money. Lowering the reserves allows cash to be freed up so they can lend more. This indicates that people or businesses are not interested in borrowing and expanding since the demand isn’t there.
A second reality check is watching very closely the commodities markets and what China actually takes delivery of. Prices for commodities like oil, coal and copper have fallen dramatically since this spring and reports on the ground tell us that there are large stockpiles of coal around the country waiting to be used for generating power. In fact, recently China canceled shipments of coal that were already on their way to their ports for offload. Shippers had a choice: Turn around and go back or lower their price.
At first it was thought of a shrewd way of getting the coal for a lower price, but now we think that they just didn’t need it and didn’t want to spend the money.
It is a longstanding practice to inflate numbers to the next bureaucrat above you. This happened before in China regarding the production of wheat. People were literally starving to death and the reports going to Beijing were showing record crops throughout the country. People heard the other reports and traveled to the next province in hopes of getting some of the surplus to survive on, only to find that they inflated their numbers also.
So what’s my point? There is a huge disparity between what is reported and reality … it is a crucial time for power change in the capital, and a regime that people are accusing of misreporting important economic data for years.
Sound familiar? Could this mean that some of the critical data coming out of our government is massaged or made up? No chance, right? You’re probably right, but I am still not going to take the data coming out at face value. Do your homework and be skeptical.
Gary L. Rathbun is the president and CEO of Private Wealth Consultants Ltd. He can be heard at 4:06 p.m. every day on “After the Bell with Brian Wilson and the Afternoon Drive” and at 6 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout Northern Ohio on “Eye on Your Money.” He can be reached at (419) 842-0334 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Six years ago, Alex Piehl packed his things and moved from the Glass City to the Steel City, nearly 230 miles from the place he called home.
But on June 30, the 28-year-old musician is coming back; and this time, he is bringing the high-energy, melodic and technical sound of Pennsylvania heavy metal to Headliners for the 2012 Toledo Music Festival.
Sponsored by Innovation Concerts, the Toledo Music Fest will run from 2 p.m. until midnight and will feature more than 75 bands on three stages over one day.
Bands participating in the show include Tropic Bombs; OnceOver; Gold; Sixx Digit; Hour 24; Doja; Josh Davies; The Charlies and In Hell and Fury. More acts will be announced as Headliners continues to have openings, according to the event’s Facebook page.
Among the extensive list of talent is Bury Thy Kingdom, a Pittsburgh-based rock quintet. In the group, Piehl, the bass player, is joined by Zach Dunham on vocals, Todd Johnson and Vince Snyder on the guitars and Josh Douglass on drums.
The band formed in 2008 with Johnson, Snyder and Douglass as founding members. After a few lineup changes over the years, Kingdom finally completed its court in early 2012. Piehl joined the group in January.
“We all started in different bands,” Snyder said. “Before [Piehl and Dunham] joined, we were all amongst the same inner circle. We all sort of had mutual friends …”
Loosely defining their sound as “progressive metalcore,” the group’s members prefer not to label themselves. Dunham and Snyder write the majority of the band’s music and they said each song speaks for itself independently.
“Rather than find a genre to define us, we just write whatever we’re feeling,” Dunham said. “We write differently for every song we play.”
Influenced by bands like August Burns Red, Periphery, Within the Ruins, The Human Abstract and Born of Osiris, the members of Bury Thy Kingdom said their focus is on the technical mechanics of the music and not on one particular sound.
“My influences are Veil of Maya because of their staccato breakdowns. They’re super crisp, super clean,” Dunham said. “Not a lot of people can put a label on us. Our music is melodic, technical metal.”
Bury Thy Kingdom currently plays smaller venues throughout the northeast. Both Piehl and Dunham said it is often difficult to book shows in the city because most Pittsburgh promoters keep a gap between large and small acts. This is something, Piehl said, Toledo has made a success out of not doing.
“Even the biggest local bands in Pittsburgh have hard times selling tickets,” Piehl said. “People don’t realize just how special Toledo’s music scene is. In Toledo, the same promoters book local and national acts, so smaller bands get to play in front of larger crowds. It’s not like that in Pittsburgh. That’s one of the reasons we wanted to get back to Toledo.”
Piehl, who was with many metal bands throughout his time in Toledo, has extensive touring experience with groups like Simple Wisdom, MUHA, Arlington Ave and Seven Remedies. Since joining Simple Wisdom in 2002, he has toured throughout the Midwest, including West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.
“I’m kind of the old man of the group,” he said. “The other guys are sort of new to the touring scene, while I’ve been touring for years … When I was with Simple Wisdom, we even went on the Warped Tour for two years.”
While Bury Thy Kingdom’s music is the focal point of the group’s appeal, Piehl said that is not the only aspect of the group that draws a crowd.
“Beer drinkers like us because we do a lot of high-energy stuff on stage. Usually in a set, I’ll throw my bass 30-feet in the air for fun or I’ll grab it by the neck and swing it around,” Piehl said. “But musicians are our biggest fans because they know what we do and they appreciate our technical style. … It’s like a circus without the face paint, bright colors and tents. We put on a hell of a show.”
Bury Thy Kingdom released its first official album in 2011, “Ascension.” The group is currently in the writing stages of their follow-up album, set to be titled “Edge of the Sea.”
“Right now, we’re still trying to complete some of the important musical parts,” Snyder said. “We hope to be in the studio by the first week of August.”
The band recently played a show in Toledo, performing alongside Once Over, Raine Wilder and Goodbye Blue Skies at Frankie’s Inner City on May 19. With a local tie and an appreciation for Toledo-area promoters, the guys of Bury Thy Kingdom said the Toledo Music Festival will hopefully be the first of many trips to the Glass City.
“We’re not trying to do a one-show pass,” Piehl said. “Toledo’s still a very unique experience. With the level of promotion and the quality of the bands, it’s a diamond in the rough.”
Tickets for the 2012 Toledo Music Festival are $10 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster, Culture Clash Records, RamaLama Records, Shakin’ Street Records, the Headliners box office or through any of the featured artists.