Letters to the Editor

Voice of the People - April 7, 2008

Seniors deserve help and respect

I am writing in total agreement and gratitude in response to S.C Lt. Governor Andre Bauer's recent article in The Herald regarding the state-funded senior help programs such as Meals on Wheels, which assist the elderly citizens of South Carolina. This much-needed program is certainly, as Lt. Governor Bauer pointed out, a program that should not be facing budget cuts. Two areas that should be strong in our state are caring for our elderly and our children, two groups of citizens whose ability to help themselves is naturally limited ... and these limitations should never be ignored by loved ones or by the state in which they live.

As we certainly live in a fast-paced world that is moving ahead at the speed of light, sometimes we lose sight of where we came from. Let's just stop long enough to consider who this $2.9 million allotment that has so graciously been provided by our state is helping. They are someone's parents, someone's uncles and aunts, someone's grandparents, etc. They are citizens of the state of South Carolina, and they are important, not only to their families, but also to our state. They have been hardworking citizens, contributing members of our society, building the foundation on which we, ourselves, now stand They have been the backbone of our state, and any help that they need now should not be denied. We live in a world where, because the continually rising costs of medications, along with everything else, some seniors have to choose between food or medication.

The Meals on Wheels program has, at least, provided seniors with nourishing meals in cases where they might go hungry, which frees up some money that may go to medications or other basic needs. As we live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, it is a shame to think that our senior citizens should face even one day wondering where their next meal is coming from, or trying to decide whether to buy food or medications because they can't afford both.

I heard a very sad news story a while back where an elderly woman ate dog food because she had to choose between food or her medications. This should not be happening in a country such as ours. My own dear mother, who recently passed away from lung cancer, used to say, "These days, you can't afford to live, and you can't afford to die," referring to the costs of living and the costs of burial. As negative as this sounds, this is a sad reality to so many of our elderly citizens today. We owe it to the elderly and disabled citizens of our state to see that they at least have their basic needs met ... food, clothing, medications, shelter and something that money can't buy -- honor, respect and love.

I join with Lt. Gov. Bauer to urge every citizen who has parents, every citizen who will be a senior citizen someday, every citizen who has a hurt for those whose ability to help themselves is limited, to please join with me to appeal to our state legislators, asking that senior help programs such as Meals on Wheels continue to be supported, not taken away. If we take away from those who can't help themselves, what does that say about us as a state? As a society? As human beings?

Sherry Payne

Fort Mill