Letters: Readers on working for the common good this holiday season

The Detroit News
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Macomb's children need your help

How do you safely shelter during a pandemic when you don’t have a home? That’s a question facing thousands of Macomb County residents experiencing homelessness right now — and many of them are children. For them, the trauma of day-to-day changes in shelter, added to the physical and emotional uncertainty, can cause lasting psychological damage. Throw in cold temperatures and a pandemic, and that’s a dire situation.

Back when the coronavirus first hit and churches shut down, many people lost their only places of shelter, temporary as they might be. In Macomb County, people experiencing homelessness are now staying at an area motel to stay healthy from the pandemic and off the street. MCREST (Macomb County Rotating Emergency Shelter Team) is grateful for this temporary solution on the path to self-reliance.

With the cold weather comes an increase in guest intake for the county and for MCREST. Thanks to the cooperation of local nonprofits and county departments, including the Macomb County Emergency Management, we’re able to triple the number of guests receiving temporary motel shelter through MCREST — to 180 from 60 each month. 

But what about the children? MCREST is working to finish renovations on a special building that will be a temporary home for women and children. But MCREST needs help — $300,000 of it — to finish the project. When complete, the Mt. Clemens building will provide food, educational resources, child care and tutoring, job training and job placement for up to 45 women and children at a time.

As this pandemic rages on, your help will be a crucial step to relieve the crisis of homelessness in our community.

Tim Joy, board member, MCREST

Sterling Heights 

Readers discuss ways we can help each other this holiday season.

Make America good again

It’s way too soon to talk about forgiveness and reconciliation, but it’s never too early for both sides of America’s great divide to pursue what should be the common ground of good health and economic prosperity for all. Right now we are caught in a fake dilemma that says we can’t have both at once. 

We believe that we have only stark, on-or-off choices. Shutdown or open up? Mask up or not? Succumb to fear or live without a care? On a human level, these are fairly understandable stances in the current health vs. prosperity debate. The problem is the divide is more broadly defined as political: Democrat or Republican? And the diametrically opposed responses to COVID pretty nearly divide along party lines.

Like just about everything else, we are now accustomed to thinking about problems and solutions in primarily partisan terms. It is dangerous laziness that threatens our ability to work through the current crisis. 

This is where we have common ground. We need sound public policy that addresses both the health and economic problems of the COVID era with equal intensity. Not one or the other, or one over the other but both, at the same time, with the fierceness and dedication of purpose that each deserve.

Public health should never be a political football.

The Biden administration must unleash the full power and force of the federal government, in partnership with the private sector when needed, to defeat the virus and to restore prosperity for every American. Good health and economic security are not exclusively Democrat or Republican values.

There are ways out of this mess even in these most divided times. Let’s try to put aside our many profound differences and unite around some narrow mutual interests, if only so we can survive, and thrive, to fight another day. It is not time to ask if America can be great again. Instead, humbly, we need to ask America to be good again.

Ted Sylvester, Ann Arbor 

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