Housing Fight Concerns More than Affordability

children not welcome seniors only
Map: Google Maps. Title added in Canva.

I opened the local newspaper yesterday and read that my town is embroiled in a legal battle over affordable housing. (I’m going to quote heavily because the article will be behind a paywall soon.)

The nonprofit advocacy group alleges that the Township Council is trying to skirt its affordable housing obligations by claiming there isn’t enough vacant space for substantially more low-income homes or apartments, even though the Planning Board recently approved the development of two large age-restricted housing projects. Neither included affordable units.

The spokesman for the Fair Share Housing Center noted that Delran is “intent on locking out working families.”

But the mayor’s comment reveals that there’s more to the story.

“We felt those (age-restricted communities) would have a minimal impact on schools and be good for Delran,” Mayor Ken Paris said Thursday.

This is all about the impact on the schools–it’s not really about affordability at all.

My town doesn’t want to add any housing that might wind up housing children.

And they’re not ashamed to say so.

From what I’ve seen in the past, few towns are interested in building houses that are not age-restricted. No one wants to add children to the school population.

Council President Gary Catrambone said the township has been working for years to keep development at a minimum to help control property taxes and school overcrowding.

That’s their plan for keeping taxes down (a plan which, by the way, isn’t working out so well here): they’ll welcome children only to existing housing. People who want to buy brand-new houses will have to find some other town in which to live.

That plan says a lot about the local government’s priorities (and the priorities of the people who run local government and the people who voted for the mayor and town council.

Delran officials countered that their intent in approving age-restricted housing was to keep the township affordable by expanding its tax base without overburdening the school system with new children.

In a town that’s full of playgrounds and soccer fields (and building more of both all the time), no one seems too eager to welcome the children who would use those amenities. If this trend continues, it won’t be long before our playgrounds turn into dog parks.

Dogs–and seniors–are still welcome here, after all.

Children are the future; there doesn’t seem to be much future here.

Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz

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#WorthRevisit: Booties and Diplomas

The story of a pregnant high-school senior who wasn’t allowed at her own graduation ceremony has been all over the news.

For many years I was a homebound tutor for several local school districts. I have plenty of experience with pregnant and postpartum high-school students.

I do enjoy the one-on-one work with a student who is too ill/injured/postpartum/pregnant/anxious/depressed to attend school. (Yes, I’ve had students in each of these categories–as well as a few discipline cases and a couple of malingerers.) There are students I’ve only taught for 2 weeks or so before they return to school. Most of them, I never hear about again.

Every once in a while I run into one of my students, who lived here in town and had a baby girl during her senior year of high school. I was paid to be her English tutor, but I also did a good bit of informal encouragement; this young mom was breastfeeding her daughter, keeping up with her classes, and handling quite a bit of the housework. She later married the father of her baby and they have another child as well; now she’s a stay-at-home mom, although she did work quite hard when her little girl was young, managing a Domino’s Pizza. Her resilience, determination and dedication served her and her family well, and it touches my heart that every so often, SHE recognizes ME. She is eager to tell me how things went for her family and I love to hear how well they are all doing.

I remember that student so well. I held her 10-day-old baby while this student took a test on Shakespeare. My student was mortified when the baby threw up all over my sweater; as I’d had several years of motherhood under my belt (and was wearing layers), I just shrugged off the sweater and went on with the test. She was from the same Catholic high school that all 3 of my kids attended (my youngest is a student there now).

There’s nothing magic about a faith-based high school that will make it immune from problems like drinking or drugs or bullying or teen pregnancy.

What is different about a faith-based high school is the way it should be supporting a teen in any of those situations. Support does not mean condoning their actions but it certainly means helping them accept the results of their actions with grace.

Audrey Assad observed on Twitter, “How many teen girls at that school will quietly get abortions because they watch how maddie’s being treated and talked about by the school?”

Moms who give birth and then go on to finish high school do not have it easy. Many times they have it even tougher at home than your average student, and the fact that they rise to the challenge of their circumstances is not grounds for punishment.

If we claim to be prolife, what do we do for high-school students like this one? Banning her from graduation is not the answer.

Not even close.
worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

No Matter How Small…#MondayBlogs

For the past two weekends, TheKid has been earning service hours by volunteering as a stagehand/cast babysitter at a local Catholic grade school musical: “Seussical Jr.”

Other than driving him back and forth to that school 3 zip codes away, and financing Candygrams for his friends in the cast and fast-food dinner on a double-show Saturday, I had considered myself done. I didn’t have to sell the ‘grams or the soft pretzels; I didn’t have to hang up costumes or fold programs. And honestly, I wasn’t going to go to the show. For all I knew, TheKid was backstage the whole time, “threatening the little kids with a squirt gun” when they got antsy. I wouldn’t see him (or his handiwork) at all.

And then he tells me he’s “in” the show (translation: he runs onstage in one scene and shoots a water gun at Horton the Elephant) so I have to come and watch.

I admit, I was a reluctant audience member. But this show was captivating, and I’m glad I went. The kids did a great job, their Seussian hairstyles were hilarious and fun, and the music was catchy.

3355396560_124f2ff5a2_o
Via Flickr (2009), all rights reserved.

Based on everyone’s favorite Dr. Seuss books, “Seussical the Musical” is a mashup of stories featuring the Cat in the Hat as the narrator who gets in on the action sometimes, Horton the Elephant, Yertle the Turtle, Daisy-Head Mayzie, and many others. It’s been a while since I’ve been immersed in Dr. Seuss, but the whole show is in his trademark anapestic tetrameter, and I was thrilled to hear an entire song based on my favorite Dr. Seuss book of all time: McElligot’s Pool!

mcelligots-pool

There were nods to so many Seuss favorites in this show. But the storyline is what really got me.

“Seussical” is the most pro-life musical I’ve ever seen–two pro-life subplots, no waiting!

Based on Horton Hears a Who and Horton Hatches the Egg, both these subplots involve the kindhearted elephant who’s “faithful, 100 percent” to the commitments he makes. Horton responds to a call for help from what appears to be nothing but a speck of dust, but he recognizes that there is a whole tiny world on that speck, filled with tiny people and tiny families and they deserve to be protected. He’s ridiculed for this, and some hooligans steal the clover on which he’s settled the speck of dust for safekeeping, but Horton will stop at nothing to save that tiny world.

In the middle of all this, Mayzie, the vain, flighty mean-girl bird, takes advantage of Horton’s helpfulness and takes off for the tropics while Horton babysits the egg on her nest–for almost a year, in all kinds of weather, the whole time worrying about the Whos on that clover somewhere.

Throughout the show, the refrain “A person’s a person, no matter how small” was constant.

If you get the chance to see this show performed, go see it. “Seussical the Musical” features life-affirming messages in a brightly-colored, rhyming package.

seussical-l
Images via Google Images, licensed for noncommercial reuse, and Flickr, all rights reserved.

Copyright 2017 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS

 

#WorthRevisit: Exercise Your Freedom While You Still Have Some

I thought it would be good to revisit a prolife post today. Because just the other day, a grand jury indicted the prolife investigator behind the videos that broke this summer, exposing Planned Parenthood’s black-market baby-parts side business. The prosecutor in this case has a conflict of interest, but that doesn’t matter to those who perpetuate the lies behind the abortion industry.

That in the same week that prolife people commemorate the sad anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

Prolife leaders worry that others will be scared about speaking up after David Daleiden’s indictment.

Worth revisiting today is my commentary on a homily I heard at my parish during the Fortnight for Freedom in 2013:

Our parish is blessed to have three deacons whose faith very obviously animates and guides them, who are not afraid to keep it real and who speak simply from their own experience. Each deacon, of course, has different stories, different strengths, different gifts that benefit our parish.

Deacon T is an attorney who is well-read, well-informed and well-spoken. He is not afraid to discuss difficult topics from the pulpit.

He made me think of Pope Francis when he began his homily by stating that he didn’t have all his notes because his computer printer had broken–and that he was sure Satan was behind that technical difficulty. (But guess what, Satan–Deacon T managed without those notes, because the force of grace will always prevail.)

Deacon T spoke very plainly about the leading cause of death in our country. It is not car accidents, cancer or heart attacks. It is abortion, which kills more people each year than the “top 2 causes of death” put together. He had the numbers to prove it. He spoke about how our tax dollars pay for this–and how it is absolutely against what we as Catholics believe. He spoke about how, if we are to follow Jesus as he called us to do in this Sunday’s Gospel, we need to take action to prevent government actions like the HHS mandate that rob us of the freedom to live as we believe. He spoke about the tragedy of millions upon millions of lives lost, and how we do not know how those lives would have touched others.

If you can’t go for big gestures (and many of us can’t), there are plenty of small ways you can advance the cause of life.

  • Pray. And then pray some more.
  • Vote–with the presidential election coming up this fall, carefully consider your chosen candidate’s prolife record. Can you, in good conscience, support someone who’s pro-abortion?
  • Check out Ways to Honor a Baby (whose life was ended by abortion) at 50 Million Names for some great ideas. Many of these are things kids can do! See more about 5o Million Names at my Tech Talk at CatholicMom!
  • Help your local pregnancy crisis center or Good Counsel Home. I try, each month, to purchase a box of diapers for the local pregnancy crisis center. (And I buy the big sizes, because many of the moms who use the resources at this center have older babies, and everyone donates newborn stuff. That’s a protip from my friend Arline, who volunteered at the pregnancy crisis center for decades.)
  • DAVIDSLABEL2016_1024x1024
    Image via Lifeboat Coffee.

    Buy some coffee. Seriously. I buy Lifeboat Coffee, which donates 10% of the proceeds from each purchase to the prolife charity of the customer’s choice–and there are plenty to choose from! Right now, they’re offering an “I Stand with David” blend; $30 a pound is a premium price, but 100% of the proceeds on this coffee goes to support David Daleiden’s legal defense and his colleagues.

What are some other things you and your family can do to speak up–and to help women and babies in danger of abortion?

worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

Hyper-Aware

It’s October 1, and we all know what that means:  autumn is in the air. Leaves are turning color on the trees. Little Brother’s soccer team is practicing in the dark because the sun sets before 7 PM. TheDad is thinking about closing the pool. There are already Halloween decorations adorning several houses and yards on my block.

breast cancer eggsAnd all things pink ribbon are popping up everywhere. And I do mean everywhere.

Even in the dairy department, where each and every Egg-Land’s Best egg is stamped with a little pink ribbon.

Seriously?

I am well aware that breast cancer exists. My mother-in-law had it. Like any cancer, it is a horrible disease. It affects too many people. It kills too many people.

I get that.

What I don’t get is how breast cancer, unlike any other cancer (such as sarcoma, which TheDad was diagnosed with two years ago; or melanoma, which killed a friend of mine ten years ago; or other skin cancers, kidney cancer or prostate cancer, all of which my father has had) has become a movement in itself.

Every disease should have breast cancer’s pink-ribbon marketing team.

But the pink ribbons make me mad, because they remind me that some of the organizations behind those ribbons take some of the money that people think they are giving to cancer research and donate it to the nation’s largest abortion provider.

I don’t go out of my way not to purchase things with pink ribbons on them, but I won’t go out of my way to buy them either.

I bought the pink-ribbon eggs because Little Brother eats two eggs every morning and they were on sale and I had a coupon. The pink-ribbon eggs were 10 cents per egg, as opposed to 15 cents per un-decorated eggs. So I bought them and we will use them.

But when I see the pink ribbon all over everything this month, I will try to remember to pray not only for the victims of breast cancer, but the victims of abortions that are being funded by organizations that raise money in the name of breast cancer.

Exercise Your Freedom…While You Still Have Some

Whatever it takes to preach a homily that connects the Gospel of the day to the crisis of abortion and the Fortnight for Freedom, Deacon T at our parish has it. And then some.

fortnight-4-freedom-270x140-no-border-animatedOur parish is blessed to have three deacons whose faith very obviously animates and guides them, who are not afraid to keep it real and who speak simply from their own experience. Each deacon, of course, has different stories, different strengths, different gifts that benefit our parish.

Deacon T is an attorney who is well-read, well-informed and well-spoken. He is not afraid to discuss difficult topics from the pulpit.

He made me think of Pope Francis when he began his homily by stating that he didn’t have all his notes because his computer printer had broken–and that he was sure Satan was behind that technical difficulty. (But guess what, Satan–Deacon T managed without those notes, because the force of grace will always prevail.)

Deacon T spoke very plainly about the leading cause of death in our country. It is not car accidents, cancer or heart attacks. It is abortion, which kills more people each year than the “top 2 causes of death” put together. He had the numbers to prove it. He spoke about how our tax dollars pay for this–and how it is absolutely against what we as Catholics believe. He spoke about how, if we are to follow Jesus as he called us to do in this Sunday’s Gospel, we need to take action to prevent government actions like the HHS mandate that rob us of the freedom to live as we believe. He spoke about the tragedy of millions upon millions of lives lost, and how we do not know how those lives would have touched others.

If you didn’t hear about the Fortnight for Freedom at Mass this weekend or last, you can learn all about it here. I encourage you to pray, listen, ask questions, learn and find a way to get involved. It is our right and our responsibility to protect our freedom to live our beliefs and to defend the lives of the most vulnerable. If we do not protect our freedom, we will surely lose it. And too many lives have already been lost.

Boycott Burnout?

This afternoon I was listening to my favorite radio show, The Catholics Next Door, on Sirius XM (totally worth the price of the subscription just for this show, by the way!)  Hosts Greg and Jennifer Willits were discussing boycotts.  I wish they’d allotted more time to this issue.

That topic has been on my mind quite a bit lately.  For about the past 20 years, my family has participated in the Life Decisions International boycott of companies that support Planned Parenthood.  That means no Levi’s, no Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, no Texaco gas–among so many other things.

And then there’s the Dump Starbucks Campaign, triggered by their announcement that same-sex marriage is core to who they are and what they value as a company.  More recently, Target announced that proceeds from a line of Pride T-shirts would fund the Family Equality Council.

Now, I don’t get Starbucks much; I don’t like their coffee.  If I want a $4 fancy coffee, I’ll go to Panera and get my latte there.  But Target is right around the corner and it’s my go-to store for a lot of things, replacing Wal-Mart, which is farther away and which has boycott issues of its own regarding labor issues, Chinese suppliers and more.

Maybe I’m just wimping out because this is hitting too close to home.  But it’s starting to feel like I won’t have anywhere to shop if I support all these boycotts.

Do they do any good?  Do the companies really care if I (not a big spender anyway) spend what I do spend someplace else?  Does anybody care?  After all, the American Cancer Society has been linked to support of Planned Parenthood, yet my parish still participates in the local Relay for Life.

So, am I lazy?  Tired?  Wimpy?  Is the devil on my back?  Or do I need to find another way to make a difference?

Don’t Treat Me Like a Fool

It’s necessary to get political sometimes.

Usually that’s something I leave to TheDad, because he’s all into that sort of thing, and I figure that one politically-obsessed person in the household is enough.  I back off–to balance things out.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t notice.  And it doesn’t mean I don’t take action when action is necessary.

This is one of those times.

I listened to President Obama’s self-congratulatory tone as he announced an “accommodation” to the HHS policy that would leave Catholic hospitals, universities and other institutions no choice but to offer health plans providing contraception, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization procedures, all of which directly violate Catholic moral teaching.

I listened, and I realized that this “accommodation” makes things worse than it did before.  In the guise of making it LOOK like the Catholic employer would get to opt out, this plan requires that all insurance plans provide these, um, “services.”

We all know that there’s no free lunch.  We know that somebody’s going to have to pay for it.  Ultimately, everybody’s going to have to pay for it, because health-care costs will go up in order to pay for it, and that cost will be absorbed by employees.

Who knew that the President of the United States would borrow an argument more age-appropriate for his own children:  “Everybody does it.”  99% of American women, he says, have used birth control during their reproductive years.

If that number is even true (and I haven’t seen any proof that it is), that doesn’t make it any less wrong.

With all due respect, Mr. Obama, would you buy that “everybody does it” line if your daughter used it on you?  Or would you answer, as parents have done for decades, “if everyone was jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you do the same?”

If “everybody” decided to stop paying income taxes, you wouldn’t think that “everybody does it” is a very good argument, now would you?

Don’t treat me like a fool, Mr. President.  I can see what you’re up to, and frankly, it terrifies me.

Jimmy Akin has an excellent analysis at the National Catholic Register.  Read the whole thing, and follow the “take action” link at the bottom.

Rocco Palmo has more on the American bishops’ take on this “accommodation.”

EVEN MORE:  Here’s what the economists think.

Plan to Read This One!

My inner rebel often leads me to put off, or refuse altogether, reading those books that “everybody’s” reading. I’ve been burned before. Like the time I read The Bridges of Madison County. There’s four hours I’ll never get back.

But I decided to break my unwritten rule when I saw all the advance press about unPLANNED by Abby Johnson.

This is the story of someone who has been there. Abby Johnson began volunteering for Planned Parenthood during her college years, eventually landing a full-time job as a clinic director. She believed the party line. But it wasn’t until she assisted at an abortion that she fully understood what she had been advocating.

I purchased unPLANNED from a Catholic bookstore so that I could get the Ignatius Press edition, which includes introductions by David Bereit, director of 40 Days for Life, and Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. You’ll want to read those too.

This book will give you new understanding of what happens in an abortion clinic. It will give you new motivation to do more to help the prolife cause–and there’s much to be done. And it will help you realize that those who are pro-abortion are not so much the enemy as they are victims of a seriously flawed line of thinking that has been fed to them for the past forty years.

To Obama, it seems pregnancy = prison

So our President has taken the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade to affirm his commitment to “choice,” which was supposed to prevent the type of horror that happened for years in Philadelphia. “Safe and legal,” that’s what it was all about, right? Yeah, that worked well in Philly.

Here’s part of his statement (read the whole thing here):

On this anniversary, I hope that we will recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.

Nice. Basically, our President believes that men and women should have equal opportunity to walk away from the responsibility of the life that results from the choices they make. He seems to view unplanned pregnancies as nothing but inconveniences that rob women of their dreams. Note that he’s not bothering to challenge “baby daddies” to step up and take care of their progeny. Why do that, when it’s easier to walk away from your responsibility and make abortion easy to come by, presenting it as the only solution to a crisis pregnancy–or even just an “inconvenient” one.