Residents must speak up?to help stop violence

I have been an Erie County probation officer for more than 23 years. In that time, I have been acquainted with many crimes, and thousands of criminals. Many crimes were senseless and heinous. Some of the criminals were degenerate sociopaths, with no redeeming value. Others were people who needed some strict discipline and guidance. As a result of this constant immersion in the world of anti-social behavior, I read about other crimes with a detached sense of reality. I had become immune to the psychological impact, until recently. That changed when I read about the senseless murder of Justin Miller. He was gunned down at a party on Saturday night. Not because he did anything wrong; he was simply in the right place at the wrong time.

I met Justin, in my professional capacity, after he made "a mistake." I know it's a cliché, but it was true in this young man's case. He turned his life around and was making something of himself. I ran into him about a month ago at Erie Community College, where he was attending, after not seeing him for three years, and he told me of his plans. He was going to move to Texas to attend college and play football. Now that dream, and his life, have been extinguished. And unfortunately, he was just one of 13 people murdered in the past few weeks.

We as a community need to do better. We cannot allow our best and brightest, our future, to be gunned down over some meaningless "beef." All people, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, etc., need to band together and stop this senseless bloodshed. And while we are at it, let's stop referring to doing the morally right and just thing as "snitching." That is a word that denigrates the victims like Justin. It is an offensive term that criminals use when someone breaks their code of silence. Unless you are all criminals, stop using that term. Standing up for your community is a much more accurate and better term.

We can all do our part. Stop the violence now. Even if it means that your brother, sister, cousin, neighbor or friend has to go to jail for his or her criminal acts. If you see something, say something. Who knows, yours might be the life you save.

Richard Carter



Amherst Senior Center?hits a milestone

This June, the Amherst Senior Center is 50 years old. I congratulate the staff, members and volunteers on this anniversary and for their dedication to providing outstanding services to the community. It was a privilege to be the executive director of the center for 17 years and, since my retirement three years ago, I miss very much the many wonderful seniors I met there.

The center's founding director, Lucile Kinne, established one of the first senior centers in the country. Her efforts culminated in the construction of a dedicated center that was a model for its time. During the administration of Director Kirsten Milbrath, the center's services expanded considerably including Meals on Wheels, Adult Day Services, Outreach and improved transportation. The building was enlarged and satellites were established to accommodate the growing demand. During my own tenure, the increasing senior population's need for services required yet another expansion. In 2000, we opened the new, internationally recognized, state-of-the-art center on Audubon Parkway, which brought together all programs and services under one roof, truly a one-stop shopping center for seniors. While it is impossible to name the hundreds of members, volunteers, staff and officials who worked to bring the center to its current pre-eminence, among the strongest advocates were former Amherst supervisors Lynn Millane and Susan Grelick, and, most notably, former Amherst council member Jane Woodward.

The Amherst Town Board has provided strong support for the center in the past. But it takes ongoing leadership, advocacy and constant work to maintain such an outstanding organization. The current administration will face many challenges as it strives to meet the needs of our still growing senior population and continue the legacy of outstanding community services provided in this premiere facility. Seniors who rely on the center's programs and services and who count on them to be there in the future must make their voices heard by the Town Board to assure that these vital services will be available when they are needed.

Mary Ellen Walsh



How does Hoyt plan?to create new jobs?

A few weeks ago, there was a story in The News about Sam Hoyt's new position under Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Basically, the story was about how we are going to create jobs in upstate New York. How can someone who has never had a private-sector job create new ones? Hoyt's $130,000 salary seems quite high, considering his lack of experience in his "created" position. Are there any goals attached to his current job? Must he create a certain amount of jobs in a certain amount of time? How will his job performance be measured? Shouldn't we know the answers to these questions, since we are paying his salary? In the private sector, if you don't meet certain goals, you risk losing your job. Let's stop the nonsense and call this newly created position truly what it is, "a joke."

Sean McDonnell



Memorial Day tribute?was deeply moving

I was recently given a short book titled, "When God Winks at You," by Squire Rushnell. It's a series of anecdotes about the power of coincidence in our lives. For nonbelievers, coincidence could be viewed as the proverbial butterfly effect (insignificant incidences can, played out over time, result in major outcomes) or as the just plain definition that the accidents of a chaotic reality sometime seem to have a connection.

For those who believe that there is and was and always will be a creator, we have learned that a workable definition of coincidence is God trying to get our attention. For Rushnell, he calls it a wink from God.

In the My View article of May 27, Fred Tomasello Jr. wrote about a 43-year delay in understanding the true significance of the two framed statements on the wall of the home of Cpl. Billy Bixby, killed in action in Vietnam. Because at the time he was a nonbeliever, Fred's reaction to "Jesus Never Fails!" was that he was sure that Jesus had failed Bixby and his family, and to "Prayer Solves Everything!" Fred was sure that prayer was not going to solve anything for the Bixby family.

It took many years for him to understand the butterfly effect because of his "shallow" definition of manhood, as he wrote. I just want to add that the "ultimate test of manhood" is "to look at death," as Fred concluded, is also a test for womanhood. In fact, for all humans, for that matter.

As we spend much of our life running from God, looking back and seeing "the one set of footprints in the sand" is a vital activity for the health of everyone's soul and heart and mind. Thanks, Fred, for sharing God's wink with us.

Your article was one of the truly most powerful Memorial Day tributes to our fallen soldiers I have ever read.

Mary Eileen Gill