Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

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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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