JANUARY 27, 1997

 The Edwards Agency

Opinion

Nurturing home a dream come true

Children's Country House The article on Children's Country House was a catalyst for an amazing and generous community response. Many acts of kindness and giving have occurred, from handmade quilts and volunteer nanny services to building materials.
   Being the parent of a child with disabilities and an active community member, I am glad to know there are options available for families faced with the very difficult decisions regarding out-of-home placement and the need for specialized care.
   Having toured many state facilities and other group homes, I can assure you that finding a nurturing, pleasant, well-run, credible facility that provides an alternative family-centered environment is a dream come true. Many readers who have faced this issue for elderly family members, loved ones with terminal illnesses, or medically fragile children will agree.
   In a recent letter to the editor, an ill-informed neighbor suggested that these services are better provided in industrial parks or business areas. To suggest that terminally ill children spend their remaining days in that environment so she does not have to face her prejudices and ignorance is deeply offensive to me. We are talking about the most vulnerable citizens and supporting families at a very painful time.
   These children pose no threat or hazard to this community. It already appears to have been a positive community building experience for many, myself included. In comparison, the resistance is a very small group (three neighbors in a community of hundreds).
   We have 1,700 children with disabilities in our community and many adults, as well. We have shown great support of our elderly neighbors also. A group home for elderly adults has lived in harmony within this same community for many years. At various times, these community members need support and service. If a private business is committed to providing this in a way that promotes family-centered quality of life, rather than institutional warehousing, I salute them.
   I encourage the few neighbors with concerns to have a respectful, open, face-to-face dialogue with the parties involved in this project, including parents, other neighbors, community members, and owners. Fear can be overcome with education and prejudice with understanding.

Cindy Christianson, Woodinville