Swifts back passion for education program with cash

February 25, 2013 

YAY: THE SWIFTS

When private individuals back their passion with significant philanthropic investment, it is worth noting.

Larry and Earlyse Swift have funded the development and implementation of the United Way’s Right from the Start program. They are now in their fourth year of a $25,000 annual commitment.

Earlyse Swift participated with the original team in 2008 that began planning an early learning initiative in Thurston County. She is the founder and former executive director of Together, which also spawned the Rochester Organizations of Families.

They expressed their passion for moving the early learning agenda forward in a meeting with our editorial board:

“Virtually every commentator addressing the subject of America’s competitive position in the global economy argues that we have to enhance our collective brain capacity, if we are going to maintain our position in the global marketplace and, hence, our standard of living. Unfortunately, that prescription for salvation usually ends up with the vague, ‘we’ve got to reform our schools!’

“While there is much to be done in that arena, too many of us are not aware of the untapped resource that we see all around us. Far more valuable than some undeveloped oil patch, the learning potential of pre-school children can be one of the major drivers in helping us to cope with the consequences of the global economy.

“And that will benefit all Americans.”

YAY: INTERPRETERS

Providence St. Peter Hospital is recognizing the growing ethnic diversity of the South Sound with a mobile language translation unit called Martti.

The new system connects patients and their families, who aren’t fully conversant in English, with translators fluent in 208 languages, including American Sign Language.

Martti will improve a patient’s hospital experience and, by eliminating language barriers, should result in better medical treatment.

BOO: NO DOG PARK

The closure of Olympia’s dog park adds pressure on the remaining dog park at the county’s landfill.

While the City Council should quickly locate and build a replacement park, some past dog owners have created this problem for themselves. Learning to pick up after their dogs and being more considerate to each other and the neighbors will contribute to a new park’s success.

BOO: OUR TAX SYSTEM

The nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) says Washington’s tax system is the worst in the United States. Because we don’t have an income tax, our system unfairly burdens poor and middle-income households.

Our state topped the ITEP’s Terrible Ten states, where the 20 percent of the lowest-earning residents pay six times more of their income as the wealthiest.

Continuing this disparity can only lead to more extreme political and economic unrest.

BOO: ENERGY DRINKS

A recent report said emergency-room visits related to energy drink consumption doubled in 2011 from the prior year. Fifty-eight percent of those were medical issues caused solely by the drink itself, while the others were from a combination of the drink and alcohol intake.

If people want to get buzzed on energy drinks containing three times the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, that’s their business. But when these high-octane drinks start placing a burden on the health care system – read: increases costs to you and me – it’s time for the Food and Drug Administration to take action.

BOO: OVER CONSUMING

A 52-year-old man, who ate daily at the Las Vegas Heart Attack Grill, died of a heart attack recently in front of the restaurant. The eatery promotes its featured entree, the “Quadruple Bypass Burger” – an outrageous 9,982-calorie monster. Experts recommend just 2,500 daily calories for an adult man. In our humble opinion, the theme of this restaurant is just gross.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, a 31-year-old woman also died of a heart attack after drinking more than two gallons of Coca-Cola every day for many years. Before her death, the mother of eight had also lost all of her teeth. No comment necessary.

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