It’s Pride Month 2016, nearly fifty years after the Stonewall Riots that kickstarted the modern LGBT movement. We’ve made some great accomplishments. Same-sex marriage on a national level was a big and long fought-for coup. LGBT people can serve openly in the Armed Forces and LGBT couples can openly adopt children now. Federal law guaranteeing transgender students the right to use bathrooms based on the way they identify, rather than the way they were born, was another giant leap forward. Just days ago, President Obama made the Stonewall Inn a National Monument and Pope Francis says the Church owes gays an apology for the way they’ve been treated.
For all of our forward progress, the massacre in Orlando was several huge steps backward. It was the largest mass shooting of modern United States history. There have been conflicting reports about the gunman’s motives, but we do seem to be certain of this: he spent years frequenting the very gay club he terrorized. What, if anything, did that mean? Was he a latent homosexual? Studies have shown that most homophobic people and “gay bashers” are. An alleged boyfriend has come forward with testimony that the gunman would “rather die than have his family find out [that he was gay].”
The hatred and fear behind this tragedy has sadly encouraged many to run out and buy guns, but it has inspired far greater an outpouring love and support from people around the world in both the LGBT and heterosexual communities, alike. So, the answer is we’ve come a long way since the Stonewall Riots in 1969 and we’re learning to accept each other but, until we learn to accept ourselves, we will never be free.
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
Stanley Almodovar III, 23
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
Luis S. Vielma, 22
Kimberly Morris, 37
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50
Amanda Alvear, 25
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26
Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
Luis Daniel Conde, 39
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19
Cory James Connell, 21
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
Brenda Lee Marquez McColl, 49
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
Frank Hernandez, 27
Paul Terrell Henry, 41
Antonio Davon Brown, 29
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24
Akyra Monet Murray, 18
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
Where have all the frogs gone? Frogs and other amphibians are dying off worldwide at an alarming rate. Many species have gone extinct already. But why?
Amphibians as a class include frogs, salamanders, and toads. They have been around for 350 million years, and inhabit a wide variety of habitats around the world. The young are born from eggs, usually within an aquatic environment. They enter a larval stage with gills that are similar to those of fish. For frogs, we call this stage a tadpole. During their metamorphic stage, they grow lungs and legs so that they can live on land. However, frogs have a second way to transport oxygen into the body. They breathe through their skin. This is called cutaneous respiration. This is an important difference that exists between amphibians and reptiles. Amphibians are much more vulnerable to being poisoned by toxins in their environment.
Several theories have been offered by scientists to account for the dwindling populations of frogs. These include:
1. Habitat destruction or modification
4. Introduction of foreign species.
5. Climate change
6. Endocrine-disrupting pollutants
7. Destruction of the ozone layer. Ultraviolet radiation is not filtered properly without ozone, and has been shown to be especially damaging to the skin, eyes, and eggs of amphibians.
8. Fungal and other diseases.
Because of their sensitivities to changes in their environment, the death of frogs and other amphibians acts as a warning that these changes, in large part produced by man, are unhealthy to the biosphere. Frogs are the canary in the coal mine. Their disappearance is an alarm that indicates that something is going terribly wrong. The reduction in the numbers of frogs can also have a deleterious effect on the environment. For instance, with fewer tadpoles to consume algae, ponds can become deficient in oxygen for the aquatic species that depend on it. The loss of frogs also places pressure on the predators that depend on them for food. This significantly disrupts the food web.
Conversation projects are underway to help mitigate the declines in amphibian populations. Several organizations now exist to help manage environments and develop a greater understanding for how amphibian extinction works, and the how we can prevent it. Who knows? We may end up preventing our own extinction at the same time.
A recent NJ.com article about the unreliability of the Medicaid ride service LogistiCare inspired us to share our own experiences with LogistiCare and the car services with whom it contracts. For our own safety, we will be writing this post anonymously.
The article refers to a “patient survey” that found LogistiCare “unreliable.” “The Christie administration reviews bids from companies vying for a multi-million-dollar contract to coordinate transportation services for Medicaid clients. LogistiCare of Atlanta has held the contract since 2009, and is paid $ 165 million a year to provide 130,000 Medicaid clients more than 5 million rides to and from medical appointments.” New Jersey’s Medicaid clients are not being well served.
Though we don’t actually know anyone who was contacted regarding this survey, we thoroughly agree with its findings. It is evident that LogistiCare does not consider the safety of its clients to be an important issue. LogistiCare continues to use car services that have many serious complaints against them; the biggest offender being J & D Transportation. While it is generally the car services and their unsafe vehicles and/or drivers who are at fault, LogistiCare continues to turn a blind eye.
We have testimonies citing drivers Face Timing while driving, texting while driving and more. A few examples of negligence which have put our members at risk follow.
Member A (who is prone to heat stroke and seizures and takes medication with which prolonged exposure to the sun is not recommended) once stood in the sun waiting for her scheduled pick-up for over two hours past the pick-up time. When her ride finally arrived, the driver instructed her to sit in the running vehicle while he and his companion smoked cigarettes for twenty minutes. When Member A’s journey home finally began, it was slow going because the two men were ogling and shouting out to women walking by. It was an inappropriate and uncomfortable situation for her.
Member B has been taking rides with medical transportation before LogistiCare took over the outsourcing of the companies. Back then she only had J & D as a transportation provider. She’d hoped the situation would improve with LogistiCare being the head of them, but it hasn't. She’s still being picked up late— to and from her appointments. Sometimes the day before, she gets a call or message from them letting her know that they couldn't find a provider to transport her to her appointment. Fortunately this hasn’t been to an appointment where her doctor has had to charge her for a missed appointment.
Member B states, “That's just the tip of the iceberg… it can be worse.” Of the transportation providers, she is most often paired with J & D Transportation and feels they employ few drivers who are good—at driving or being civil. In her experience, their drivers talk (sometimes argue) and text on the phone while driving. She even had one driver (who is no longer employed with J & D) make derogatory remarks about her weight.
Member C actually liked her J & D Transportation driver, except that he zigzagged between cars at very high speeds on the Parkway. “It scared me: I was afraid we would get into an accident. After that, I used to pray we wouldn’t take the Parkway.”
In an incident unrelated to J & D Transportation, Member B’s driver was video chatting with someone. There were three lanes of traffic, two straight and a left turn lane. The driver was supposed to be in the left turn lane as per the GPS but, as his attention was elsewhere, he cut off other cars to get into the left turn lane instead of being safe and missing his turn.
“Seat belts? You need them with these drivers,” says Member B, “You take your life in your hands with some of them. Granted that there are some good ones out there, the companies that have them are ICare and MedEx. Otherwise, it’s passenger beware.”
If I were to go back and tell my seventeen year old self that I would be graduated with my master’s in social work degree, have moved out and started a life away from home, and already have a job I would have never believed it. Thinking back to when I was seventeen, I was a nervous wreck- I was stuck in my bubble of a home town, applying for colleges, touring colleges, and just trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I convinced myself that I would not get into any colleges, I would be stuck at home for the rest of my life, and I would never find a career path that I enjoyed.
When I finally decided on a college and a major, I was hesitant but ready to go. My four years of my undergraduate degree invoked a lot of experiences for me- academically, emotionally, and intellectually. I learned who my true friends were, a direction for my career path, and a lot more of who I am as an individual. I was a different person than the nervous seventeen year old I once was.
Going into my graduate year to get my Master’s degree, I had direction. I was confident in my ability to become a social worker, I had moved away from home permanently, and I was ready to probe my mind even further. This year was a difficult one- working two jobs, interning, and going to school full time. Somehow, I was able to conquer this as well. These experiences made me stronger and I was surprisingly ready for the “real world”.
Here I am now, back at my senior year internship as a staff member. The past five years have led me to become the person I am today, and I can confidently say that I believe this is the best version of myself I have ever seen. I now take opportunities without hesitation and am not afraid to ask for help if need be.
Needless to say, I was able to become this person although I put myself down in the very beginning. It is this that I want everyone to realize. At one moment you may feel as though life will never work in your favor, but if you keep your head up and persevere then you will find yourself and your passions one day.
-Gina (Staff Generalist)
I recently found on my Facebook feed a story about a K9 officer’s partner (a dog named Bruno) taking a bullet for him. The police that chased the shooter that fired the shots at them, escorted the officer and his dog to the veterinary Hospital, so that the dog could get operated on STAT. Most people would wonder why waste an effort on saving a dog’s life it’s “just a dog” – especially with taxpayers’ money, until the officer could adopt him. In general people question why waste money on sick pets, why not put them down?
Well in the above instance the dog saved the officer’s life. Unfortunately, due to complications, Bruno passed away a few days later. With others one doesn’t know what that dog, cat, etc. has done for the person caring for their pet. It doesn’t always have to be as dramatic as taking a bullet or warding off a robber. It can be as simple as being companion and being there for the person. Elderly people, single people, have them as companion animals, People with mental illness can have pets as ‘therapy’ animals to help with coping with anxiety, depression or other symptoms.
In my instance, as a teenager, my family brought a Golden Retriever puppy (we named him Rambo). When he was caught up on all his shots I started walking him out front. One of those days a neighbor was walking two of his dogs (one leashed and unleashed). The unleashed dog came up on our property, and when he saw Rambo he came up to us with his teeth bared. I acted as a shield by getting Rambo behind me and the front porch. I yelled for someone to get him inside, preparing to fend off the approaching dog if necessary. Some people thought I acted foolish, I digress. They never knew how much Rambo helped me as he grew from puppy to adult. During that time my Aunt was found out to have advanced stage 3 lung cancer, she passed away a bit over a year after being diagnosed with it. I was also brutally bullied in High School. Rambo was my only friend and a comfort to me. He never judged me, he just wanted to make me happy. So he was never “just a dog “to me. I never regretted putting myself in danger to save him as a puppy. I could defend myself better and survive if that dog tried to get through me to get to him, as a puppy, what chance would he have? I saved his life once, he saved mine multiple times. So the next time you think “just a ...” why waste money on them think about Bruno, Rambo and other pets who help save lives just by being there for someone in a time of need, who might be a lifeline for a lonely senior or someone with mental illness.
Blog posts are written by Shore House members and staff.