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Just punch in 2-1-1 for human service aid

All Pennsylvanians should be aware of the outstanding service available right on their telephone keypad. For most telephone customers, simply dialing 2-1-1 gives you immediate access to trained professionals who can connect you quickly with the health and human services agency or state agency that can address your needs.

Whether you need to find out where to get a flu shot or are seeking assistance to help an elderly loved one pay utility bills, 2-1-1 can help. More than 25,000 agencies, programs and services are registered in the database throughout the state that may be able to meet your concerns. Also, dialing 2-1-1 instead of 9-1-1 allows first responders to focus on immediate, life threatening emergencies. Access is also available by dialing 1-888-819-1341 or online at www.pa211.org. Click on the map for your area.

Is hiking minimum wage really the right answer?

A Dec. 31, 2012 article about hiking the state minimum wage noted the following comment made by Dr. Stephen Herzenberg, The middle class is struggling. We need a way to lift wages of the working family. One of the most powerful ways to do that is to increase the minimum wage.

He felt that Pennsylvania should follow the lead of 10 other states and increase the minimum wage for workers. Dr. Herzenberg also said that studies have found that increasing the minimum wage creates jobs by strengthening the economy by putting money in the pockets of mostly lower-income families.

My question for Dr. Herzenberg would be: Who are you concerned about -- the middle class, who are struggling, or the lower-income families who spend most of what they earn? An increase in the minimum wage to $8 would mean an average yearly salary of $16,640 for a family. I assume that a family consists of at least two people, or maybe three people. Please, Dr. Herzenberg, explain to me how this increase in wage helps this family when it is still financially at the poverty level.

Dr. Herzenberg, please tell me how employers, who now have increased expenses, are not going to increase their prices and pass this increase on all consumers? It's called capitalism. Please, Dr. Herzenberg, tell me how you are going to deal with the disgruntled employee who has been working for an employer for five years, especially if it was a minimum wage job to start with, and is now just making $8 an hour. In comes the new employee and because the minimum wage was increased he makes the same amount of hourly wage as the person who has worked there for five years. I hope that when our legislators are debating the merits of a wage increase they think it through. Increasing the minimum wage has not seemed to be the answer over the years and I hope that legislators review it's historical effects before making a decision.

I can remember growing up thinking that if I made $20,000 a year, life would be fabulous. Now, it seems that a small family needs an income of at least $100,000 a year to survive.

Do you remember when women had the right to choose whether they would work or stay home because only one income was required to support a family? How did we get to where two incomes are needed for a family of four to financially exist? Please look at more than raising minimum wage to solve the financial problems of the middle and lower class.

A tale of family ties, hard work and fate

In the mid 1930's, during the height of the Great Depression, my father earned his livelihood as a cattle buyer. My brother, Max Rosenn (later to become Judge Rosenn of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals) had completed law school, but there were three more siblings to receive a college education.

My mother chose to manage our modest grocery store in the Midvale section of Plains to help provide that college education for Lillian at the University of Michigan; my twin sister, Florence, at Mansfield State Teachers College; and the undersigned, Harold, at Michigan, both undergraduate and law school. I might add that all three of us had part-time jobs throughout our college years to help pay for our college education.

Early on, my mother was approached by Mickey Harostock, who had the Purvin Dairy route in Plains, to sell his products in the store, as he wanted to emulate my mother by sending his son to college. My mother was very impressed, and after thoroughly checking out the Purvin products, including her home baking, she began recommending the Purvin products to her customers.

Within a few months, more than 90 percent of the customers were exclusively purchasing Purvin products in our store.

Now – fast forward to approximately four months ago. I was attending a luncheon of the Luzerne County Bar Association in Wilkes-Barre, when I was stricken with a heart attack, taken by ambulance to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, where I successfully underwent emergency heart surgery.

I am now fully recovered, vacationing with my wife and son in Naples, Fla., thanks to my surgeon, Dr. Harostock, son of Mickey Harostock, our Purvin milkman of the 1930's.

Foundation's initiatives reach decade mark

The Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is pleased to announce that the 2012 annual report is available online at www.bcnepa.com/Community/BlueRibbon.aspx.

Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania established the private, nonprofit Foundation in 2002 to invest in health and wellness initiatives throughout Northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.

During our first decade of service, The Foundation awarded nearly $10 million in grant funding to 170 nonprofits to help meet the needs of more than 186,000 at-risk individuals.

In 2012, we awarded grants to 26 organizations for health-related projects that are producing real results.

Last year, for example, in Greater Wilkes-Barre, our partners included:

Luzerne County Community College Foundation, which will provide dental services to more than 500 uninsured patients at the LCCC Dental Clinic in downtown Nanticoke.

Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA, which will add the CATCH (Coordinated Approach To Child Health) curriculum to its after-school program for 35 at-risk youngsters.

United Way ofWyoming Valley, which will continue to provide much-needed health and human services programs toWilkes-Barre area residents.

These partners and others recognize the value of preventing rather than treating disease, and are helping to turn the tide on many of today's most pressing – and most costly – health issues.

We remain committed to our mission of helping people live healthier lives, and we're privileged to support the work of so many dedicated organizations.

Send us your opinion

Letters to the editor must include the writer's name, address and daytime phone number for verification. Letters should be no more than 250 words.

• Email: mailbag@timesleader.com

• Fax: 570-829-5537

• Mail: Mail Bag, The Times Leader, 15 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre, PA 1871 1

Michael Zimmerman Chief Executive Officer Family Service Association Wilkes-Barre Stanley Halas Wilkes-Barre Harold Rosenn Kingston Cynthia A. Yevich Executive Director The Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania

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