MINNESOTA'S SENATE RACE

A record to run from?

I just saw an ad for Norm Coleman on the morning news Wednesday -- it claims he "brought hockey back" to Minnesota.

For an incumbent U.S. senator to be touting something he helped to achieve as mayor of St. Paul as an accomplishment of his time as senator is sad. He must not have much to be proud of from his six years in the Senate.

MELANIE UELAND, MINNEAPOLIS

A welcome entrant

I disagree with your assessment of Priscilla Lord Faris' entry into the U.S. Senate race (editorial, July 16). By stepping up to challenge Al Franken, Lord Faris provides Democrats a solid alternative to Franken, who has written shallow humor (it's not satire) that offends practically every demographic.

The relatively recent coverage of Franken's "Porno-rama" reveals Democrats have a huge problem on their hands. Either Franken failed to be upfront with party leaders about all of the potentially damaging material he has produced, or Franken and the party chose to ignore the serious problems these past writings/performances pose. If Franken wasn't upfront with his party, he should have been.

It's a pretty sure bet that more offensive material will come to light.

JULIE RISSER, EDINA

Doesn't hear the voice

Jesse Ventura said one of the reasons he did not run for the Senate was because God had not told him he should. This is probably due to the fact that God couldn't get a word in edgewise.

NORMAN HOLEN, RICHFIELD

HOODLUMS AT VALLEYFAIR

AWOL parenting

Regarding the hoodlums who assaulted the father at Valleyfair (Star Tribune, July 15), this is another case of little or nonexistent parenting.

If my son or daughter had participated in something like this I guarantee they would have chosen jail time over coming home to Mom and Dad!

Someday these punks will meet their match in the form of a citizen with a permit to carry a pistol.

MARK NOWLIN, EAGAN

SENIORS AT HOME

A boost for block nurses

Your July 9 editorial about reaching out to help seniors live at home and the challenges of Meals on Wheels programs is a drop in the tidal wave bucket before the inevitable Aging Tsunami crashing our way.

Latest figures show that more and more seniors are living longer and most have the same goal: to remain in their homes for as long as possible. Meals on Wheels is a valuable service that supports their goal. That's also what the Living at Home/Block Nurse Programs (LAH/BNPs) do for Minnesota seniors.

According to the latest Cost and Services analysis report issued by the Elderberry Institute, the average annual cost per elder served by the 40 Minnesota LAH/BNPs reporting in 2006-07 was $530 compared to $53,154 in average annual costs to maintain a senior in a nursing home.

That same report states that Minnesota's LAH/BNPs served 11,578 seniors and kept 1,138 at home avoiding nursing home placement at a savings of $36.8 million.

LAH/BNPs are nonprofits each serving a specific geographical area with a small staff and group of generous volunteers who help seniors with rides to medical appointments among many other services.

Funding for LAH/BNPs has traditionally been through city, county and state (Department of Human Services) grants, foundation grants, small fundraising campaigns, donations by seniors and the community. The average budget for a rural program is $54,000 while for metro programs it's $110,000.

Like other program directors, I balanced my time this week between completing required reports, writing a grant, and spending time with our clients (checking in with Tom to make sure he's OK, arranging for a ride to the doctor for José and dealing with Myrtle's crisis because she forgot to take her medication and her caregiver daughter lives in another state).

In the recently announced 2008-09 Department of Human Services Community Service/Services Development competitive grant bidding process, only one-third of the 114 applicants received funding.

Unless we embrace a radical change to fund these programs, the public expense to support seniors in nursing homes will dramatically increase. The LAH/BNP healthcare model is a proven, affordable and happy solution for our seniors.

BARBARA LA VALLEUR, ST. PAUL;

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,

PAYNE-PHALEN LIVING AT HOME/

BLOCK NURSE PROGRAM

You, too, can help

I am the executive director of the Senior Services Consortium, a unique partnership of 10 community-based organizations that work together to ensure that Meals on Wheels are available to Ramsey County residents. Each weekday, rain or shine, over 1,100 people wait appreciatively for a nutritious meal and daily checkup. I can't begin to describe how important this service is to them.

To all who have played a part in providing Meals on Wheels, thank you. There's no way we could provide this important service if not for the broad-based community support from hundreds of volunteer drivers. The involvement from the business, civic and religious organizations has been extraordinary. As we face yet another challenge of dealing with increased fuel and food costs, we encourage others to join us. All we ask is a few hours a month. Believe me, you'll receive more than you give.

BARBARA ARRELL, ST. PAUL