Opinion

Trishna’s tidbits
Modern musings by Trishna Buch

Most of us have been blessed with happy lives. We have food to eat, a place to call home and warm beds at night, but many people are not as lucky, losing their home, often through little or no fault of their own. When that happens, they need help to return to living a happy, healthy and successful life.
There is no shame in needing extra help and that is exactly what nonprofit organization Family Promise Of Clear Creek hopes to provide such people.
The League City charity is part of a national network that seeks to help homeless families achieve independence. According to its website, ccfamilypromise.org, there are 181 Family Promise organizations across America, all aiming to help families in need.
The Clear Creek branch’s executive director, Emmanuel Favor, takes charge of assessing whether families who apply for its services are a good fit for the organization. Such is the demand that successful applicants are put on a waiting list with a promise of help when their time arrives.
The reason for the wait is that the Clear Creek branch is only able to help four families or 14 people – applicants must have children of school age – at one time. When a family has received what it needs from the organization, it leaves the program and makes space for the next family.
Once a family is accepted into the program they are sent either to the organization’s day center on South Egret Bay Boulevard or to one of its partner churches, depending on the time of day. Each evening the people in the program eat dinner and sleep at the church and the following morning they are transported to the day center, which provides them with amenities to shower, do their laundry and search for jobs if needed.
The center also provides a playroom for young children, plus tutoring and college application assistance for older children. Along with teaching them to become independent, the organization also provides classes in life skills, including the management of money and time, and sets assignments that must be complete by a set date.
The work that Family Promise is doing is impressive. Did you know that, according to nokidhungry.org, in our country about 13 million children are at risk of going to bed hungry every night? How can that be?
In a world where we have plenty of food, I find it shocking that food is thrown away daily and so many children go to bed hungry. No person, especially children, should feel the struggle of being too cold or too hungry. We need to protect our children and it’s a blessing that Family Promise has taken up the fight in our county.
Favor made it clear he hopes to help as many families as he can. He told me that rejected applicants are invited to reapply at a later date. As long as the families accept they need help and do not have an extensive criminal background or take drugs or alcohol, they have a decent chance of being accepted into the program.
How nice it would be if Family Promise can grow to include branches outside America. There are struggling families and suffering children all over the world. If we can spend time and money on wars, to send a man to the moon and to create a contraption that allows people to talk to someone across the world, surely we can spare some of that time and money and help the people who need it the most, the world over?
For more information on Family Promise Of Clear Creek, go online to ccfamilypromise.org. If you know someone in need of its services, they can apply by calling the center at 832-932-3963.

Even home taxes are bigger in Texas

How many of you hate doing your taxes? Don’t deny it, I know you do. I hate it and, to this day, I have not found anyone who enjoys the chore.
With tax season in full swing and people around the country gathering their income information and other relevant details to make sure their taxes are done and dusted before the April 18 deadline, analysts at financial-advice website WalletHub have been studying the 50 states and the District Of Columbia to determine whose residents pay the most property and vehicle taxes.
Its analysts say that, according to the US census bureau, the average American household is charged $2,149 in property taxes annually. Residents who live in one of the 27 states with vehicle property taxes are charged an extra $402, causing National Tax Lien Association to observe that’s it’s little wonder there are about $11.8 billion in unpaid property taxes each year.
To analyze the property tax rate, WalletHub divided each state’s median real-estate tax rate by its median home price. Then, they determined the average amount paid “as real-estate tax on a house worth $178,600” which was the median value of a house in America in 2015, the latest year for which figures are available.
To analyze vehicle property tax rates, data from cities and counties making up at least 50 per cent of a state’s population was examined and the information was used to draw conclusions to the state level by using “weighted averages based on population size”.
How did Texas fare? In terms of property, our state’s residents pay the sixth highest real-estate taxes in the country, with just the jurisdictions in Wisconsin, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Illinois and New Jersey charging more than ours.
The median Texas rate is $2,578 and the national median is $3,386.
The good news is that, with Texas not one of the 27 states that require their residents to pay vehicle taxes, its zero rate tied for the lowest amount with the other 23 states and DC.

What a big effect you’ve had, Grandma!

After witnessing her grandmother suffer a heart attack, College Of The Mainland alumna Jael Rivera knew she needed to be better prepared to deal with emergencies.
And so the event became the catalyst for her entrance into COM’s licensed vocational nursing program, from which she graduated last year.
What a wonderful way to use her personal struggles to better herself so she can help other people in their hour of need. As someone who has lost both grandmothers, one of them only two years ago, I know firsthand how difficult it is to see a loved one suffering and so I have a deep appreciation for her tenacity.
Rivera and her classmates were part of a program that recently won COM 14th place out of 77 similar community-college programs in Texas in an assessment conducted by practicalnursing.org.
The website, which serves future healthcare professionals, studied the exam pass rates for state licensed vocational nursing programs in the past five years.
The mid-county community college’s rate was an impressive 90.14 per cent – way to go, COM students!

Cool app with vital purpose

When someone is in urgent need of hospital services, speed is usually key in ensuring care and, in dire cases, survival.
Which is why the James Crowder funeral home is inviting county residents to download a mobile-phone application called Vital ICE – for “in case of emergency” – and enter the code 2401.
After entering the code, you’ll be asked to fill
in your personal medical information so that first responders can quickly find your vital information in an emergency.
The app, through which the information can be sent directly to a hospital, is free and can be found in the app stores on both iPhones and Androids.

This ’n’ That by Nicky De Lange

Spring is officially here. This needs mentioning as the weather so far this year has been so different each day. Sometimes we wake up to sunshine, warm breezes and mid-range temperatures. Other days might be chilly and damp, windy and warm or any combination of these choices. But on Monday – March 20 – spring arrived.  
The reason for this update is that there are a lot of events coming up in the next month. If you are anything like me, you require a calendar, the kind with big blocks for each day, so that you don’t get your dates mixed up and miss anything important.
It’s difficult enough remembering all the family events, loved ones’ birthdays, dental appointments and medical checkups.
I have been known to show up a week early or a day late for appointments. My excuse is that we have to make some of these arrangements six to 12 months in advance. Of course, the obvious answer is to enter them on your calendar as soon as you make the arrangement.
But nothing is foolproof. Who knows that far in advance what any of us might wind up doing around the time of the appointment? And what makes it even more challenging is that our doctors and dentists don’t always know what will be on their schedules either.


That’s when you receive the phone call from their office saying your appointment will have to be rescheduled.
And that is when it all unravels. Now you have two different dates and times stuck in your brain – the original date and the replacement date. The chance of you remembering the correct one is less than one per cent – and that’s after you’ve changed your calendar and added a sticky note on your mirror to help you remember.
The biggest challenge for many of us is the switch from standard time to daylight savings time. You might be like me and stumble around for at least a week trying to remember if the official time – the one we just adopted for the summer – is the same time our brain thinks it is.
It’s a weird kind of jetlag and one of the main symptoms is going around muttering to yourself: “Spring forward, fall back”. This doesn’t seem to actually help anyone but it gives you something new to be agitated about.
Heaven forbid you travel to a different time zone during this immediate-post-changeover period. That will guarantee long-term confusion, during which you not only cannot figure out what time it is but also where you actually are at the moment.
As a quick example, imagine that, during the first week of daylight savings time, you jump on a plane in Texas and fly to Las Vegas. Now, you have to remember that, as Texas is now one hour ahead because of its time change, you are actually two hours back in time when you land in Vegas.
OK, what time is it really? That depends on what time your watch says, what time you left home and whether or not you set your timepiece ahead or behind.
To which I say, who cares? You’re in Las Vegas! There are no clocks in the casinos. Everything stays open 24 hours a day. End of problem – it’s Party Time!

Well spoken – Each month dentist John Hackbarth reveals the way to a perfect smile and confident conversation

IS THERE any link between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis? Well, the latest research shows that the answer is probably so.
A recent edition of the Journal Of Science Translational Medicine gave a fascinating insight into the subject.
Now, I always want to bring you the latest information that has to do with your dental health, but I should warn you that this article is going to have a few big words in it. However, if you follow along, you should be able to get the link that doctors have found.
Investigators at Johns Hopkins University reported that they have new evidence that a bacterium known to cause chronic inflammatory gum infections also triggers the inflammatory autoimmune response characteristic of chronic, joint-destroying rheumatoid arthritis, often referred to as RA.
These new findings have important implications for prevention and treatment of RA. The investigators say that aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, or AA, is the common denominator they have found between gum disease and RA in many people.


The bacteria appear to induce the production of citrullinated proteins, which are suspected of activating the immune system and starting the series of events that lead to RA.
Maximilian Konig, the report’s first author, says: “This research may be the closest we’ve come to uncovering the root cause of RA”.
And Felipe Andrade, the study’s senior investigator, says: “This is like putting together the last few pieces of a complicated jigsaw puzzle that has been worked on for many years”.
Medical investigators have observed a clinical association between periodontal disease and RA since the early 1900s. Researchers have suspected that both diseases could be triggered by a common factor.
In 2015, I attended a London medical college for a symposium that focused on another bacterium, porphyromonas gingivalis, which is one of the most destructive found in gum disease.
Major efforts are being made trying to demonstrate that this bug causes RA by inducing citrullinated proteins but, unlike AA, no link has yet been proven.
So, what does this mean to you as a patient? First, if you are suffering from RA, you should make an appointment with your dentist to get rid of any active periodontal disease. Secondly, if you have periodontal disease and any genetic predisposition for RA, you should visit your dentist to have the disease handled.
A majority of adults in America suffers mild to severe periodontal disease, so the moral of this story is that you should have your mouth cleaned up so you don’t end up with debilitating arthritis.
John Hackbarth is a Texas City dentist who believes in prevention rather than cure. Readers with oral-care questions can call him at 409-935-2111 or go online to his website, texasdentalhealth.com.

              Glenn Mollette

Uncommon Sense with Glenn Mollette

Medical care continues to dominate our attention in this nation. I hope we don’t have millions of people without health care in the next year or so. However, in reality we already do.
A 50-year-old woman told my wife and me recently that she seriously needs a knee replacement but she can’t pay her deductible and 20 per cent. Together they would be several thousand dollars and, on her waitress salary, she can’t afford the much-needed surgery even though she has medical care.
If she falls over with a heart attack and is rushed to hospital, her insurance will pick up a major part of her treatment but she will still be stuck with a big medical bill. That would be another crisis.
I wonder if her heart would be able to withstand the shock of her medical bill?
The answer to medical care in America is to put everyone on Medicare from their 65th birthday. We pay for it so we should receive it when the time comes. Make Medicare pay for everything and get rid of supplemental insurance.
We pay into Medicare all of our lives and then have to worry about supplemental insurance at 65. Congress should eliminate that hassle. Medicare should cover everyone who has reached 65.
Many will go throughout life and pay very little, if any, into it.
To deal with our country’s obvious major debt, we should take some of our foreign aid to cover any who might be left out. The very poor in America should be on Medicaid. Doctors and hospitals must be required to accept Medicaid patients. I realize they have to make money but a 10-to-15-per-cent load of Medicaid patients is not asking too much for a doctor.
People with preexisting conditions should be able to buy into Medicare. Allow working Americans to buy medical insurance across state lines so we can shop for affordable insurance that fits our budgets.
Open our prescription-drugs market to pharmacies in Canada so we can shop for cheaper medicines. Find a cure for cancer. Give Americans a serious tax break if they keep their body mass index at 26 or below.
There is a further question as to whether we should keep poor senior Americans on Medicaid or, as I previously said, move them into Medicare as well. If Medicaid covers all medical treatment, then it won’t matter. However, if Medicaid is not accepted by all of the medical society, we still have major issues.
Funding Medicaid and Medicare is the major part of this battle. It’s time to start using taxes on casino use, marijuana, cigarettes, alcohol, fast food, obesity and soft drinks to fund Medicare and Medicaid. We could raise a lot of money and probably eliminate the need for two different systems, combining them into one system that would require a national medical card for everyone over 65, including those with preexisting conditions and the very poor.
Finally, make members of congress shop and buy their health care. Limit house representatives to five terms and senators to two. Eliminate insider stock-trading information, which is illegal for average Americans yet members of congress rack up millions over the course of their tenures.  Many of our problems would be solved if the US congress had to live like average Americans. Another problem would be solved if insurance-company and drug-manufacturing companies’ lobbyists were barred from Capitol Hill. Congress members should be barred from receiving money in any way, shape or form from such people. Maybe then they might make some decisions for the American people instead of in the best interests of their financial supporters.
Glenn Mollette is an American author whose
syndicated column is read
in all 50 states.

Trishna’s tidbits
Modern musings by Trishna Buch

Being an adult is oh so difficult. You would think that, after six years of experience, I would be an expert in the matter but I can confidently say that I am not. For a start, I find it amusing when my parents tell me “you’re an adult now”.
There are also the times I walk into a classroom of kindergarteners – I am studying education and am required to go to a class once a week – and realize I am meant to be the responsible one. This isn’t to say that I am not responsible; I am but I often find myself yearning for the simplicity
of childhood.

Our childhood days were the best ones of our lives, wouldn’t you say? The days when we did not have any concerns or worries about life. The days when anything was possible and we could do anything we wanted without fear of ridicule or judgment.
Are there times when you are hit with a wave of nostalgia and wish you’d been born 15 or 20 years later because you’d still be a child and life would be so much easier?
As an adult, are you plagued with worries and fears? Selfishly, do you worry about passing your master’s-degree classes and about having too much to do and too little time in which to do it. Do you worry about making a success of your career or that you will never find anyone with whom you can settle down and start
a family? More altruistically, do you worry about the affairs of our world, the health of your loved ones and the wellbeing of your friends?
When I was a child, I had no such concerns, which is why I wish I could be so blissfully ignorant again. In those days, my biggest worry was conquering the giant slide on the playground and learning how to tell time using an analog clock.
As a child, the world is a wonderful place free of troubles and full of possibilities. As adults, we know it’s filled with troubles and that the feats we thought were possible as a child – such as one of my favorites, climbing Mount Everest – are not as simple as I had assumed.
Do you also miss your favorite childhood activities because they are no longer acceptable for yur involvement? I miss the feel of the wind in my hair as I played on a set of swings, pushing myself higher and higher until it felt as if I was flying.
Do you miss watching your favorite childhood movies and television shows? Do you miss the abundance of energy that allowed you to run and skip and play sports and games, even after spending eight hours in a classroom and two on homework?
Nowadays, after spending seven hours at work and three on homework, I have barely enough energy left to take a walk. I fear that my days of nonstop energy are no longer a part of me.
Lastly, I miss my childhood because it is proof that I am growing up. And that scares me because the older we are the closer we become to losing the people we love. We all know that no one lives for ever and that nothing lasts for ever but the faster we and our loved ones age the more frightening the thought of death becomes.
But being an adult does have its perks. As adults, we are free to stay up as late as we want and eat ice cream for dinner if we so choose. Now, being an adult does mean having the willpower and discipline to saying no to such treats and that we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves, work hard and become successful because nobody else will tell us to do so.
So we should constantly remind ourselves never to let adulthood get in the way of being fun-loving folks.
Maya Angelou once said: “Everyone grows old but not everyone grows up”. This, surely, is one of the most important lessons for adults to learn. Our age should not have a negative impact on how we go through life.
So go ahead. Watch your favorite childhood show, run until you feel as if your legs will fall off and never let go of the belief that anything is possible.

Sky reaching for the sky

Overachieving seems to be one Dickinson resident’s forte. At the age of 17 and one semester early, Sky Mejias has earned her associate’s degree from College Of The Mainland and is now an art-magazine executive.
She has been recruited as lead creative director for art publication Phase Magazine by its founder, Enmi Young, and now works with photographers, models, makeup artists and graphic designers to put together almost 100 pages for each issue.
As someone in a similar field, I am impressed with Mejias’ initiative in kick-starting her career. At her age, I did not even
know what career I wanted to follow and she is already working on her path to success.
The magazine’s first issue, which has sold out, was shot in the Big Bend area while the photographic venue for its second issue, which recently wrapped, was White Sands, New Mexico.
Printing the magazine does not come cheap, costing $6,000 per issue, so why, in the age of the internet, does Phase choose to offer a hard-copy version?
Mejias, above, said: “We do social media, posting behind the scenes, et cetera. But I think seeing it in your hands
is a complete different feeling.”
That’s the spirit! I hope you’re able to get your hands on a copy of Phase in the near future!

Calling all young artists!

Mental health has always been a taboo topic in our world. I struggle to find people who are comfortable with discussing it but the truth is that it’s out there and people suffer from it.
Mental-health disorders do not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, race or religion and can affect anyone, including children.
To raise awareness of this unfortunate fact, the center for school behavioral health
at the Greater Houston branch of Mental Health America and nonprofit Nick Finnegan Counseling Center have been hosting a children’s art contest for the past three years.
Their #HTXMentalHealth children’s art contest seeks to commemorate National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, which will run from May 1-7, and to encourage children to use art to improve their mental health.
Children aged between five and 14 who live in one of several counties including Galveston are eligible to participate. The artwork must represent the contest’s theme, How I Feel About Myself, and can be a picture, a drawing or a text.
Winners will be named in three age categories, with two artists from each level earning more than $300 in prizes, museum passes, zoo tickets, art supplies and art classes,
as well as being recognized at a reception and seeing their artwork featured at Houston’s health museum.
The deadline for entries is April 1 so, if your child would like to compete, you can obtain full details by going online to htxmentalhealth.weebly.com/rules.html.