LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Budget cuts may impact humanities

Dear Editor,

Just last year, in 2016, the Kansas Humanities Council supported 717 events in over 100 communities in Kansas. These events include speakers, book discussions, writing workshops, Bill of Rights displays, and Waterways initiatives and grants, all programs that strengthen civic life and boost local economies. In Dodge City alone, the KHC awarded $4700 in support of eleven KHC events. These leveraged an additional $5,680 in local cost share.

Consider the past three years: in southwestern Kansas, the KHC has supported 37 speakers bureaus, 17 TALK book discussion series, two special projects, three museum on main street projects (Hometown Teams and Water/Ways), and two grants. The KHC has awarded $53,475 through collaboration with local city, library and museum coordinators.

In southwestern Kansas, we know the value of the KCH to our communities.

Statewide, we are known for our proud history of local leaders supporting the KHC – residents Dave Rebein and the late Jim Shearer were board members. Currently, Dodge City residents Jan Stevens, Brandon Hines and Jane Holwerda serve on the KHC Board. Additionally, local educators Jennifer Krisuk, Paula Ripple, and Dana Waters also promote the work of KHC throughout Kansas.

The work of the Kansas Humanities Council, as of all state councils, is funded primarily by the National Endowment for the Humanities. This has been the case since President Lyndon Johnson signed federal legislation in 1965. Since then, the NEH has benefited from bipartisan support, every Congress since having believed in the power of the humanities to make a difference in the lives of Americans.

Now, however, the current proposed federal budget would eliminate all funding for the NEH, putting at risk our own KHC, putting at risk humanities events in our communities. Yet the federal investment in the NEH costs less than the price of a stamp per each American per year. Less than one-tenth of one percent of annual federal spending goes to the NEH.Will you join your fellow Kansans, and fellow Americans, in speaking up to support funding for the Humanities? Contact Representative Roger Marshall and Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran. Remind them that funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities enables our Kansas Humanities Council to award grants and support programs that engage Kansans with the history and ideas that make our community a better place to live.

Cutting the NEH would negatively affect our community’s quality of life. It won’t impact the federal budget.

KHC Board Members and Dodge City Residents,

Jane Holwerda

Jan Stevens

Brandon Hines

 

Senior programs in danger

Dear Editor,

According to information I recently received, the president’s proposed budget will eliminate the funding to the Senior Companion and Foster Grandparent programs sponsored by Fort Hays State University. The Senior Companion Program has been in Western Kansas since 1974 and the Foster Grandparent program will celebrate 20 years in June. The budget for all Corporation for National and Community Service — sponsored programs in the United States — is .039 percent of the federal budget. This small amount of money saves taxpayers many more times that.

These Senior Corps programs afford persons age 55 and older with an opportunity to serve their communities by assisting people of all ages. Last year 35 Foster Grandparents worked with 176 children in nine counties of Western Kansas. Savings to the school districts in this service area was more than $353,300 because of the help of these volunteers.

One hundred twenty Senior Companions provided 102,317 hours of service helping 328 frail, disabled adults remain independently in their homes. The average annual cost of institutional care in Kansas is $60,681; in-home care averages $15.63, while the cost to support a Senior Companion is $4,649 annually.

In addition to the individuals served by these Grandparents and Companions, these low-income senior volunteers are rewarded by being able to receive a stipend of $2.65 per hour which helps them pay for medicine, purchase food or other things they need. Just as important as the stipend, the feelings of continuing to contribute and know they are helping others in their community keep these folks active.

RSVP is a sister program which received grant funding from the Corporation for National Service. RSVP provides opportunities for community members to serve in many ways: from delivering meals and shopping for people who are isolated and lonely, to assisting in many non-profit agencies.

The Corporation also funds community service programs for students and adults through VISTA and AmeriCorps, the National Civilian Community Corps and FemaCorps, which serves in times of natural disasters.

Taxpayers benefit greatly through the services of many community volunteers who are supported by this agency. Please call Representative Roger Marshall, 202-225- 2715 and Senator Jerry Moran, 785-628- 6401 and let them know how valuable these programs are to our communities.

Mary Lou Warren

Former RSVP Director

Senior Companion