Family

Mothers turn tragedy into efforts to help others hooked on heroin

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Sunday will be agonizing for sisters Kat Cordes and Lori Hanway. It will be the first Mother’s Day they spend without their children who both died from heroin overdoses. “She would have been 24 yesterday,” Cordes said of her daughter, Amanda Haas, who died in March at age 23. “We had a birthday cake for her and let balloons go.” Hanway’s son, Thomas Urhammer died in December at age 35. After years of battling heroin, both cousins lost to their fierce addictions. In an effort to find some hope in their losses, the two mothers have planned a memorial benefit and tribute to their children, this Saturday, at the Eagles Club in Bowling Green. The event will raise awareness and funding for Team Recovery, a group that helps opiate users beat their addictions. “It has to be done. It’s getting out of control,” Cordes said of the opiate epidemic. “It helps me. I feel like if I help one person turn their life around, another parent doesn’t have to go through what I did.” Earlier this week, the sisters took turns talking about their children and their heart wrenching losses as they prepared meals at A Taste of Amish Deli, owned by Hanway in Bowling Green. Cordes said Amanda first started taking heroin when she began dating someone around age 17. “It started as snorting. When that wasn’t a good enough high, they went to IV drug use,” she said. Cordes and her husband soon realized valuables were taken from their home. “I started noticing things missing to support their habits.” Gone were her jewelry, wedding ring, TV and tools. She also noticed a personality change in Amanda. “She was so smart. All her friends asked her to do their math,” her mom said, with tears rolling down her face. The family lives on a farm, and Amanda was a big-hearted animal lover. “She wanted to let the animals go.” “That happens….


New Cocoon can shelter more survivors of violence

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The tour of the new Cocoon shelter was personal for some of those getting their first look Sunday at the safe place for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. As a counselor, Joan Staib worked with a girl who saw her mom stabbed to death by her father. “I could tell you 60 stories of women impacted by domestic violence,” Staib said as she toured the new Cocoon. Places like this, she said, can help prevent the violence or help survivors deal with the aftermath. “The healing can be awesome,” she said. The tour was also personal for Becca Ferguson. Her mother was the victim of domestic violence, at a time when there were few services to help. “Her attorney told her to get in a car and drive to Florida,” from her home in Georgia, Ferguson said. “Violence toward women is a problem everywhere, including Bowling Green and Wood County,” Ferguson said as she stood in the kitchen of the new Cocoon. “I firmly believe we need safe places everywhere, especially for women and children.” The new Cocoon site, located in the former Elks Club at 200 Campbell Hill Road, will include living spaces for those in emergency situations. The shelter portion is scheduled to be open later this month. The building will also have advocacy services for victims of violence who need help navigating the court system, learning financial management skills, and other services. The new site, under director Michelle Clossick, allows all the services and sheltering to be in one location. The shelter portion of the site will be able to house twice as many people as the current Cocoon shelter which opened 12 years ago in an apartment building in Bowling Green. The new site will have improved security, with several cameras, fencing, and entrance by key cards. Unlike the current shelter, the new more spacious site has a large kitchen with a community dining area, a playroom…


Author overcomes learning disabilities to become storyteller

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Patricia Polacco, author and illustrator of more than 100 books, remembers the horror of being forced to read in front of her class. She would clutch the book so hard, her nails would break. “To me, that was like being asked to stand in front of a firing squad,” Polacco told her audience of parents and children Saturday at the Literacy in the Park event at Bowling Green State University. “I could not read until I was 14 years old. I could not write. I couldn’t do math,” she said. “I felt stupid. I felt dumb.” Polacco recalled the unintentional cruelty of her classmates. “The whole class started laughing at me,” when she tried to read aloud. “Please don’t laugh,” she told her audience on Saturday. “You have no idea how much you are hurting that kid.” Polacco’s life turned around at age 14 when one of her teachers finally realized that she was dyslexic and dysgraphic. She was also unable to learn when sitting still – something that wasn’t understood till years later. “In my day at school, I had to sit like a rock.” So Polacco is a big believer in the individuality of children and the way they learn. “I believe all children are gifted. The trick is, we don’t open our gifts at the same time.” Polacco, who lives in Michigan, has turned her gifts into beautifully illustrated children’s books. “For me, art is like breathing,” she said. She didn’t started writing books till she was 41. “Older than dirt,” she told her young audience. In the last 31 years, she has written about 115 books. “They come out of me so fast, I can barely keep up with them.” Polacco comes from a family of storytellers – her mother’s people were from Russia and Ukraine, and her father’s people were from Ireland. As she was growing up, her family did not own a television. She asked the…


Michigan author Patricia Polacco Literacy in the Park guest

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University’s annual Literacy in the Park event will feature popular children’s author Patricia Polacco. The Lansing native has written and illustrated more than 115 books for children in addition to being a playwright and penning for adults. She is a much-sought-after lecturer and keynote speaker. Some of her most popular books include “The Keeping Quilt,” “Thunder Cake” and “Thank you, Mr. Falker.” Presented by BGSU’s College of Education and Human Development, Literacy in the Park will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 29, at Perry Field House. The event is free and open to the public. Last year, more than 2,000 people attended the event. Literacy in the Park, which has taken place for more than a decade, promotes the importance of literacy in the lives of children and features more than 40 interactive exhibitor booths and displays. The focus of the event has been expanded to address all of the different ways literacy is important in our lives. In addition to reading and writing activities, families will have opportunities to engage in activities about digital literacy, science and environmental literacy, financial literacy, nutritional literacy, physical education literacy and many other forms of literacy that can be found in their lives and communities. In addition to these literacy-related activities going on throughout the day, there will also be entertainment on the main stage and two presentations from Polacco. Born in Michigan, Polacco’s family on her mother’s side were Jewish immigrants from Russia and the Ukraine, and her father’s people were from the County of Limerick in Ireland. Both cultures valued and kept their history alive by storytelling. Her heritage and the themes of family traditions and storytelling feature prominently in her books, which touch on a wide variety of topics including bullying and understanding differences, learning disabilities, tradition and heritage, family relationships and more. While there is no cost to attend, guests are encouraged to preregister to…


Funding defended for programs Trump wants to slash

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   While President Donald Trump’s administration is attacking the value of federally funded community programs, the proof is right here in Wood County. Local officials suggested the administration look at the seniors kept in their homes by the Meals on Wheels program, the children nourished through the WIC program, and the small villages improved through the CDBG program. When Trump’s budget proposal was unveiled Thursday, the winners were the military and border control. The losers were the arts, the environment, the poor, the elderly and the very young. And the cuts weren’t made with a scalpel, but with a guillotine. Local officials who normally make tempered responses to hot button political issues could no longer bite their tongues. When Mick Mulvaney, the president’s budget director, said the Meals on Wheels cuts were justified because the program was “just not showing any results,” the comments pushed Denise Niese past her normally polite poise. “I heard that last night and I was appalled,” said Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. The local Meals on Wheels program is not as dependent as some areas on the federal funding, but it is vital to local residents, serving 132,000 meals last year. Sometimes it’s difficult to collect hard data on social services, but Niese said the proof is in the pudding – and all the other menu items. “We do know that people with home-delivered meals can maintain themselves in their homes at a much lower cost than going into long-term care,” she said. Considering the fact that the local Meals on Wheels cost an average of $4.92 per meal to produce and deliver, that is a real bargain compared to a senior citizen moving to a nursing home facility. “It is cost effective,” Niese said. “There are people who have been able to stay in their homes for five, 10 or 15 years,” thanks to the home-delivered meals. Wood County Health Commissioner Ben…


Citizens sick about losing health insurance

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than 20 local citizens crowded into U.S. Rep. Bob Latta’s office on Thursday to tell the congressman they are sick with worry over the looming repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Latta’s staff listened politely and said they would pass on the concerns. But that wasn’t good enough. “I really want to talk to my representative about the Affordable Care Act,” said Sheri Wells-Jensen, who organized the meeting. Others joined in pushing for a face-to-face with Latta. “Rep. Latta needs to have a public town hall meeting. I think he needs to listen to what’s going on locally,” said Laura Landry Meyer. “He needs to get out of Washington.” His staff stressed that Latta has held close to 700 public events during his terms in Congress. “I understand that, but things are changing by the hour now,” Landry Meyer said. Tim Bosserman, Latta’s district representative, said he did not have a current schedule for the congressman. If a local meeting is scheduled, it will appear on Latta’s website, he said. But the group was persistent, and continued asking for a commitment for a town hall meeting. Wells-Jensen offered condolences for the “poor staffers” in the Bowling Green office who weren’t equipped with the congressman’s schedule. Melanie Stretchbery put the staff on notice that this is no longer business as usual. “We are voters. We are taxpayers and we’re not sitting down anymore,” she said. “We want to be heard,” Landry Meyer said. The biggest concern in the room was the possibility of the Affordable Care Act being repealed with no replacement plan in place. “Address the problem, but don’t pull the rug out from under the people who need it most,” Stretchbery said. Nancy Brownell agreed, noting that many of the problems with the ACA are occurring because the Republicans fought against the single-payer system. “We should never have a repeal before we have something to replace it,” she said. “The…


Child abuse cases increase locally by 25% last year

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Child abuse investigations increased in Wood County by nearly 25 percent in 2016 – a jump never seen before by the staff at Children’s Services. The number of cases went from 718 in 2015 up to 894 in 2016 – meaning 176 more child abuse investigations. Cases of abuse were reported in every community in the county. The increase is being attributed to more people reporting child abuse or neglect cases when they see them, and to the rising opiate epidemic. The numbers were presented Thursday to the Wood County Commissioners. The number of physical abuse cases investigated in 2016 was 224, the number of sexual abuse cases was 142, the number of neglect cases was 439, and the number of emotional abuse cases was 19. Drugs were involved in 212 of the cases. “The drug cases are much more difficult,” and take longer to resolve, according to Sandi Carsey, director of Wood County Children’s Services. “It’s normal for people to relapse,” added Brandy Laux, assessment supervisor at Wood County Children’s Services. When investigators arrive at homes with drug problems, “there are bigger issues,” of finances, eviction, utilities and loss of employment. Nearly every month last year saw more child abuse reports than the year before. “Every month last year, except for December, we increased,” Carsey said. And this January is seeing the same uptick. “I would hope we wouldn’t have as big of a spike, but we never know,” Carsey said. In expectation of the increases, the county commissioners approved an additional staff person in Children’s Services last year. “That helps with the load for the workers,” Laux asid. Children’s Services will once again be trying to raise awareness by placing a field of pinwheels out in April, with one pinwheel for each case investigated last year. This year, however, separate pinwheels will be placed in communities throughout the county where child abuse or neglect have been investigated, Carsey said. Those…


BGSU sociologists’ research garners close to $2 million in grant funding

By BOB CUNNINGHAM BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University recently was awarded three grants for sociology research totaling nearly $2 million. The largest grant is $1.1 million from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development/National Institutes of Health (NICHD/NIH) for the support of the Center for Family and Demographic Research. The center was formed on BGSU’s campus in 2000, and has been continuously funded by NICHD since 2002. There are fewer than 25 universities that are funded for a population research center in the country. The other two grants are for the studies “Pathways Linking Parental Incarceration and Child Well-being” for $500,000, funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ); and for the “Social Influences on the Long-term Cessation of Violence” for $384,000, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grants were written by Wendy D. Manning, Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology, Peggy C. Giordano, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Sociology, and Monica A. Longmore, Professor of Sociology. The three professors, who also are close friends, have been working together on research at the University since the late 1990s. “We are happy to have support for the Center for Family and Demographic Research,” said Manning, who is the director of the CFDR and the principal investigator (PI) on the NIH grant. “The Center grant is an infrastructure grant that provides work space, security, conference rooms and skilled staff to support research at Bowling Green on health and well-being of children, youth and families.” Since its inception in 2000, research at the Center has aligned with the Population Dynamics Branch scientific mission with a focus on family demography, fertility and reproductive health, and social contexts and well-being. The CFDR provides national leadership, and continues to foster an environment of innovation and collaboration that yields high-impact research on cutting-edge issues in demography including new work on same-sex couples, family trajectories of reproductive health, and the role of the criminal justice system in families and well-being….