Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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Death of a heroine...Hanley Denning

Jacob Wheeler - February 15th, 2007
Hanley Denning, the founder of Safe Passage and a guiding light of hope for families in the Guatemala City garbage dump, was taken from us in a tragic car accident on Thursday, January 18. She was returning from the capital city to Antigua after attending meetings to establish a day care center so that children in Safe Passage could leave their younger siblings in good hands while continuing their studies — an impossible luxury for most Guatemalan kids, yet one realized by more than 550 children who are now part of Safe Passage.
To those children and their families, Hanley was akin to Mother Theresa. In fact, she is often referred to in the Guatemalan media as the “angel of the garbage dump.”
As the news of her passing spread through Guatemala City’s poorest slums, mourners gathered throughout the night at the hospital, and crowds packed the streets at a memorial service, especially grieving mothers with young children.
“Before meeting her, I never would have imagined that my children would go far in their studies,” Yolanda Campos, a 33-year-old mother of Safe Passage kids, told the national Prensa Libre.
Hanley’s body was flown to Maine for the funeral on January 23 in her hometown of Yarmouth, which is also the program’s U.S. headquarters. Her vision and work touched so many, both in Guatemala and the United States. The ceremony offered opportunity for numerous Safe Passage board members, volunteers and friends from around the country to join hands with the Denning family and thank Hanley for the humanitarian path she chose, and ensure that her dream of combating poverty through education will continue in her absence — which is what she would have wanted.
While fighting back tears, Hanley’s father Michael told the Portland Press Herald, “Hanley’s only desire was to keep it going.“
Several Great Lakes Friends of Safe Passage attended Hanley’s funeral, including Paul Sutherland, chairman of Safe Passage’s board of directors, Amy Borer, a local Rotarian, Sharon Workman, vice president of Great Lakes Friends, and Judy Barrett Walters, who adopted a Guatemalan child and sponsors another at Safe Passage.
“Hanley’s life was an inspiring example of what one individual can accomplish in the cause of humanity if they dedicate themselves, work hard, and stay the course through headwinds and setbacks,” says Sutherland. “Hanley charged forward, with heart, intelligence and remarkable stamina to the cause of making the world a better place.”
Hanley twice graced our presence in Northern Michigan, most recently at a fiesta at the Hagerty Center this past summer. Great Lakes Friends has raised over $50,000 for Safe Passage since Hanley’s first visit in 2005, and another 12 local volunteers will embark on a service-learning trip to Guatemala in February. They include Bob Heacox, a retired emergency room physician from Grand Rapids who will offer medical assistance, and Maggie and Kaitlynn Cassem from Lake Leelanau, who are the mother and sister of two adopted Guatemalan children. Sixteen-year-old Kaitlynn organized a drive at Lake Leelanau St. Mary’s school and filled several suitcases of donations to take with them.
Ms. Denning grew up in Yarmouth and graduated from Bowdoin College with a psychology degree in 1992. She later earned her master’s degree in education from Wheelock College in Boston and worked as a teacher for poor children in North Carolina. Hanley traveled to Guatemala to learn Spanish to help her communicate with those she was helping, and learned of the squalid conditions in the Guatemala City garbage dump through a friend. She sold her car and computer to fund a drop-in center for tutoring and shelter. Safe Passage was founded in 1999 and quickly grew to become a comprehensive support program that guides children into school and on to graduation.
A documentary called “Recycled Life,” about those who live and work in the Guatemala City garbage dump, received a nomination for this year’s Academy Awards for Best Short Documentary, featuring Hanley, among others. The 38-minute film is directed by Leslie Iwerks of Santa Monica, California and narrated by Edward James Olmos (“Stand and Deliver”).
Today, more than 550 children who live around the Guatemala City dump spend their mornings or afternoons at the program where they receive assistance with school work, a healthy meal (often the only one they eat each day), access to a medical clinic, exposure to the arts, and vocational programs in a caring and safe environment. Many of the children in the program are the first in their families to attend school. This year, more than 10 students in the Safe Passage program will be enrolled in the most academically competitive schools in Guatemala.
Also killed in the accident that took Hanley’s life was Safe Passage employee Bayron Aroldo Chiquito de Leon. Two Safe Passage volunteers, Beth Kloser of Indiana and Robert Tinsley from England, were injured but are expected to recover fully.

Donations in honor of Hanley Denning – to continue her legacy and sustain Safe Passage – can be sent to Great Lakes Friends, P.O. Box 621, Traverse City, MI 49685. For more information about how you can support this work, contact GLF at safepassage.glf@yahoo.com, ph. (231) 590-6072.
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