This village is helping to raise its children
... I am fortunate to have the opportunity to counsel Lower Keys juveniles who are involved with our judicial system and have resided in Key West their entire lives. Money is tight and the parents work many hours to keep roofs over their heads. Unfortunately, this scenario inhibits these young people from experiencing what a tourist does when visiting paradise.
These young people usually have enough funds to purchase incidentals, but never do they have the $35 to $60 at one time to experience the flavor of our island. When I say flavor, I mean the reef off our beaches, an educational tour of their island, to try parasailing, climb the lighthouse or a trip to Fort Jefferson. Through the 100 percent generosity of businesses and organizations, things are changing.
It started with Carl, who owned the Discovery Glass Bottom Boat. I shared with him that many of these children had never seen their reef nor their island from the ocean. The children's excitement was contagious. Can you imagine seeing the reef for the first time.
Leslie of Captain's Corner invited the children on several snorkeling trips. What a treat to watch children jump in the water their first time with snorkel gear. Some children needed prompting to "risk shark infested waters." Leslie also gave a full scuba scholarship to a child who was certified on Nov. 30.
Linda of Historic Tours of America supported my request for the children to ride the Conch Train and learn the history about their home island.
Ricky of the Police Athletic League introduced children to boxing and jujitsu. These sports build self-esteem and direct ways to release energy and anger.
Then there is Jack of East Martello Museum. He guides many children through community service and frequently uses his own money to feed or provide bus fair for a child. What a great help.
Please take time when you meet these citizens and thank each for their generosity to our children.
Who says authorities know what's best?
Some time ago, some newspapers reported that the Coast Guard rescued a man and his two sons from their boat just before a hurricane. The Coast Guard did not give the papers the whole story. I know, because I was that man.
It was 13 hours before the hurricane. I planned to evacuate after securing my boat in the mangroves. The Coast Guard ordered me to evacuate, instructing me that, if I rushed my preparations, they would wait a short time for me to finish securing my boat -- but they would not leave until they saw me leave with my sons in my dinghy.
We are familiar with hurricanes.
What of more desperate and rare disasters, such as a future eruption on La Palma across the Atlantic Ocean? It could send a massive crushing tsunami wave rushing toward the U.S. East Coast and possibly Key West in eight to 10 hours?
Would the police recognize that not everyone may agree how to deal with such an event and allow a person to take his boat to deep water where the tsunami might be but an ocean swell? Or would the police dictate evacuation orders? Would they decide that higher authorities always know better and forcibly prevent people from taking their boats from the dock?
When confronted by a few parents who choose an alternate course -- perhaps safer, perhaps not -- do the authorities plan to force their children on what they claim will certainly be less than a six-hour over-road evacuation route, evading a catastrophe seven to nine hours away? What are the authorities' contingency plans regarding children in any number of different catastrophes?
As I have asked in previous letters to the editor, I again ask the authorities to respond in an open written dialog. So far, they have never taken me up on that.
Thanks for supporting United Way fundraiser
The Florida State Employee Charitable Campaign are most grateful to the following businesses for their generous contributions to the United Way of Monroe County Annual Thanksgiving Day Raffle: Conch Train Tour, Sunny Days Catamarans, Fury Water Adventures, Ripley's Believe it or Not, Hyatt Key West Resort & Spa, Stick and Stein, Jeff's Gems & Nautical Design, Half Raw Shell Bar, Waterfront Market, Curves, Art Warehouse, Grim's Grill, Key West Dominos Pizza, DoubleTree Grand Key, CoffeeMill, Swimline Pool Products, Sunset Watersports, The Restaurant Store, Big John's Pizza, Gorgeous Hair Salon, Visible Difference Hair Salon, Blockbuster, Audio Visual in Paradise Inc. and Strunk Hardware. The event was Nov. 23 at Grim's Grill in Key West. More than $2,800 was raised to benefit local community services.