Letters to the Editor 4/13

April 13, 2001

Letters to the Editor 4/13

Potomac Center offers essential care

To the editor:

A couple of weeks back a lady from Clear Spring wrote an editorial about closing the Potomac Center in Hagerstown and moving the handicapped residents into the community.

I don't know this lady, or her life experiences, but I choose to believe that she has a big heart and her emotions are in the right place. I can speak to my experience and life with my handicapped son, and I know it is similar to many of the parents of children at the Potomac Center because that is where he lived his final 10 years of life.

Derek, like many of the kids at the Potomac Center, was born severally handicapped. Raising and caring for him at home during his early years was very hard.


I was naive, perhaps like the lady from Clear Spring, in belief that when I went out with my son to the mall or dinner that people would understand and respect my situation. The reality is that was not the case.

I don't know that I disagree with the idea that somebody needs to break through society's stigma about handicapped people, but when you are in the emotional throngs of caring and loving your child, you simply don't have enough energy left to sway the attitudes of your community.

When it became too difficult to care for Derek at home safely, the Potomac Center was a gift from God. The people there cared for and loved my child as if he were their own. They treated my son with the respect and compassion that I wished the rest of society would.

I guess until you have been that close to the fire, you cannot appreciate and understand. I would challenge anybody who feels as this lady does to spend a day, or even an hour, at the Potomac Center and try to taste what the reality is like. Compassion is a virtue but without true experience it falls well short of the mark of reality.

The reality is there are some people handicapped in such a way that there is no hope, reason, or justification for trying to "mainstream" them into society. This lady compared the residents to being locked away from society.

The reality is, the nature of some handicaps is such that they will be "locked" up (or closely cared for as I prefer to see it) no matter where they are located. Placing them together with a group of deeply caring and committed people is, in my opinion, the best possible solution.

Besides, they are not locked away from society. The doors of the Potomac Center are always open to visitors. It's just that society chooses not to visit. Governor Glendening and the various state agencies have repeatedly stated that the Potomac Center will not be shut down. The reality is that by not accepting any new residents the center is being shutdown "quietly" by attrition.

The purpose of government is to provide for its people. There is a group of people in this society who are best cared for by the likes of the Potomac Center.

Just because these people cannot speak for themselves is no reason to consider them easy targets for government cutbacks. It should not operate under the "squeaky wheel" rule, but rather the golden rule.

Angie Backus


Parents abused too

To the editor:

You hear so much about child abuse today and hardly nothing about parent abuse. As parents, our hands are tied as far as discipline of our children. In return, we are treated with disrespect, our hearts are broken and constantly lied to about their lives.

There is no longer a parent-child relationship in today's society. As children become adults, they are permitted to speak to you in any manner they choose and treat you with even more hostility.

They are allowed to keep your grandchildren from you on a whim, because they didn't like the fact that you stated your opinion in a situation, or just because they want to hurt you.

It is so sad that families are being dispersed in such a manner. People who have close loving families should thank God every day for their blessings.

All I can do for my children is pray for them each day. I also pray that someday when my grandchildren become old enough, they will seek me out and come to love me even if it is for a short amount of time.

Dorathy Boden

Clear Spring

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