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Letters Published in January 14, 2009 Issue
January 14, 2009 - Letter submitted by Ray Grooms, Ellsworth Air Force Base, SD
What does the Home mean to me? In a nutshell … everything!
Along with me, my two older sisters, a younger brother and still a younger sister, we were enrolled into the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Children's Home in June of 1968. My father was a disabled veteran, uneducated and unskilled. Our mother was just as ill-prepared to raise and provide for five children and after they divorced we spent about two years going from one foster home to another. And though our family background is not uncommon, I would suggest it was and still is for many, still too common. Perhaps the reader has heard this tale before and knows of families who live this now.
But my siblings and I were lucky, indeed very lucky. Through a family friend my father discovered the Home and found his children a home where we would be fed, have a roof over our heads and be provided with an education. But most important to father was that we would all be together and know where to find each other as our personal needs required.
While at the Home, couples (good, fine people) would show interest in possibly adopting my older sister. Some couples wanted to adopt my brother and I and still others, my youngest sister. Father always said no. His kids were all together and to him this was what mattered most. Now he knew we might have been happier in the short term in the home of another family, but his concern was the long run and in the end the hard decisions he made were the right decisions. He was right and this was the last thing I could convey to him as he laid on his deathbed. I hope this eased the suffering in his passing: We were all together then as we are now.
After all these years I still keep in touch with many of my "Home" brothers and sisters and just as important many of the employees who helped to instill values in me. Some of these good people I first met in June of 1968 and we still keep in touch. As a matter of fact, I recently received a card in the mail from a former staff officer. Inside the card he wrote that he hoped he had a positive effect on me. Indeed he is a beautiful man and "positive effect" doesn't begin to touch the surface.
After the New Year I spoke on the telephone with two "brothers" I started school with. For 12 years we ate our meals, lived in the same dormitories, played in the same playgrounds, were in the same classes and like other siblings had a fair share of arguments along the way. This we did daily until we graduated from Morton Memorial together in 1980. It's always good to talk to them about nothing. Kids, grandkids, work, weather, livestock and pets as well. And it's also a good feeling at the end of conversation to tell them I love them. And a darn fine feeling when I hear them say, "I love you too, Ray".
Just like anywhere else, it wasn't all pie in the sky, and heaven knows I didn't truly begin to appreciate what I had until later in life. But I was at the right place at the right time under the guidance of some of the most wonderful people I have ever had the pleasure to call a friend.
What does the Home mean to me? I'm not sure if I can really begin to articulate this with pen and paper. It's too close to the heart and I'm not a poet. Perhaps this is a start.
January 14, 2009 - Letter submitted by Jennifer Munson, Proud Alumni of the MMHS Class of 1999
My name is SPC Jennifer Munson. I am a 1999 graduate of the Home and am currently serving in the United States Army. I was outraged to hear about the Home closing. I look at myself now: strong, disciplined and well-mannered, mostly thanks to many of the employees out at the Home.
When I think of the Home, I think of how far I have come, and every time I come back to Indiana, I head to Knightstown. This way I can take a look at how far I've come, and I am always at peace there!
I believe it is so unfair that the children currently at the Home, and possibly future children will not get the support from the staff that I did. I would have never graduated high school, or even thought about joining the Army had it not been for the Home. I would have attended Carmel High School, and never been in band, JROTC or had fun as a disc jockey on WKPW, the Home’s radio station. I can still call up any one of my mentors from the Home and I know they would help me out in a heartbeat.
No matter where I am, every year, the students and staff at the Home ensure that the other service members and I all receive care packages at Christmas. I am about to deploy to Iraq. These are the kids I am fighting for - so they can have better, brighter futures.
It would break my heart to find out that some child who was forced to leave the Home because the state wants to spend its money on other things would be in jail because someone in the foster system or their own parents won’t or can’t care for them the way they do at the Home.
The health department should have done something about this three years ago when something was wrong. And why wasn’t anyone else consulted before they can just shut the home down? I mean ... you can’t shut ISSCH down! I guess they should have thought of all this before they built a new football stadium or worried about roundabouts!
January 14, 2009 - Letter submitted by Roberta Driscoll
My brother and I were moved to the Home in 1972. I was 15 and he was 9. We had been transferred there from a private children's home where we had been staying. You see, our mom had passed away four years earlier and our father was an alcoholic with a history of child abuse (me as his main victim). When I arrived at the Home, I had no respect for authority, and was failing miserably in my freshman year of high school. By the end of the second grading period, I had made the “B” honor roll. I was pretty proud of this considering all my years in school leading to this time I was a D and F student.
I learned to respect and honor the houseparents, teachers and all the staff responsible for my care. I had opportunities available to me that I wouldn't have otherwise had at the private home because they didn't have the facilities available to provide them. We all had opportunities!
I worked at the hospital helping the housekeeping staff. I also worked in the dental office learning dental assistance. My senior year, I got to work in the main office on Sundays when visitors came, thus getting some office experience. These were all experiences I could only get at the Home, to be honest.
I'm so saddened by the news that the Home is to be closed. The Home saved my life. I believe the short time I was there was really the time in my life that developed me into the independent, success-driven woman I became.
January 14, 2009 - Letter submitted by Scott “Tiny” Klinge
My name is Scott Klinge, and I was a student at the Home from 1984 until the day that I graduated in May of 1995. The current situation with the Home has greatly saddened me, because the home was and still is my true home. I lived there for over 11 years while my brother was there for over 16 years.
I can't speak for him or any other student that attended the Home, but I can say from the bottom of my heart, with absolute conviction that the Home is the best part of who I am. I still know that if I hadn't attended the home, I probably wouldn't have become the man that I am today. A lot of students may not want to admit it out of pride, or even just pure spite, but the Home has helped to make them into whoever they have become. I have seen kids show up on that campus with anger, rage and hate for being there. But after time, many, if not most, began to understand that the Home was there for them, and it has been there for children for over a hundred years.
So, in closing I say that if the Home is to close, the state of Indiana will lose one of its most positive marks in the care of children in this state. I hope that with this letter and others like it, along with the gathering of alumni and employees, we may be able to save this important part of our state.
January 14, 2009 - Letter submitted by Raymond Klinge, MMHS Class of 2000
As many Homies will tell you, the home has made my life better considerably. No telling where I would be if I was not a student here. Not only did they educate, support and guide me to who I am today, it was also my home then and it is now. I was there for over 15 years from the time I was two until I graduated. I didn't have a family outside the Home, per say. I’ve seen so many kids come to the Home and I’ve seen a change in all of them, including me. These were some of the best moments in my life.
To even think that they would close a place so vital to Indiana’s past, present, and hopefully future students would be devastating. I’ve seen it first-hand since I graduated the children that could benefit from the care and structure that the Home gives. In closing, I would like to say, "Morton High, Morton High, we're for you and that’s no lie, onward forever, backwards never, we’re for you Morton High"
January 14, 2009 - Letter submitted by Charles Lawhorn, Class of ’50
Believe in Miracles!
Nearly 150 years ago, in the middle of beautiful central Indiana farm country, there was a place well-known to the Native American People and the early settlers in the area called The Knightstown Springs. The site had been frequented since antiquity for its many mineral-water springs and clean country air - far removed from the dirty, crime-ridden, and smoke-filled cities of that time.
The property, with just a few scattered buildings, was purchased by The State of Indiana as an ideal location for a Veterans home to house the many destitute Union Civil War veterans, and the children of those veterans - many orphaned by wartime. War orphans were filling up the urban areas and putting great financial strain on local governments. Keeping them all away from temptation was also mentioned as a consideration - even then.
It was decided that those veterans who could would work the fertile fields surrounding the newly-established Home to help defray some of the cost of their care. The children from the beginning had their work as well, and were taught life-skills and trades, so that they would become good productive citizens and not perpetual burdens on society when they finally left their Home.
When a fire destroyed the veterans' quarters, the veterans were transferred to a federal facility in another State - leaving the several hundred children and their caregivers as the sole occupants of the Home. And then, a Miracle! At that desperate time, a moral imperative took root in the form of The Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphan's Home, as it was first called. From that time forward, the people of Indiana pledged to care for their needy children in perpetuity. In the face of violent extremes of weather, frequent epidemics, two World Wars and other military conflicts, and many hard economic times - some much worse than now, the Home never failed. In fact, it thrived, with an average population in the hundreds!
Whenever the need became greater, the Home was enlarged, not closed. Because the support of the people never wavered. That was, and still is, an investment we can never afford not to make. The people of Indiana have always risen up to throw their protective and nurturing arms around their children - no matter what came! Even the Great Depression, that brought the entire world to its knees, could not destroy Indiana's commitment and dedication to its children - its future.
At one point during my time at the Home (1939-1950), there were over 1,000 children living, learning and thriving there - much to the benefit of our total society. Over the years, this one Home for at-risk children has produced doctors, lawyers, movie stars, journalists, military and religious leaders - and thousands of well-adjusted, productive and good people. Of the large number of Home alumni that have served our country in wartime, many did not return - giving the full measure of devotion by defending ideals instilled in them during their childhood days. Now, once again, this is a time to double, triple, or even quadruple the size of this magnificent facility, and prepare it to take in as many of the thousands of floundering Indiana children of this generation as possible.
With problem agencies all over the state coming under intense scrutiny and the cost-cutting axe, The Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's Home remains, as it has since its formation, the one bright, shinning example of the state and people of Indiana showing over and over again, that they know, in their innate wisdom, how to get it right!
Many of my fellow alumni have already detailed their own time spent at the Home, and I concur with each one. You may have noticed that the common threads that run through our narratives are security, opportunity, hope and service.
January 14, 2009 - Letter submitted by Darlene Foster
My husband, Verle, and I were both raised at the ISSC Home. I had 4 brothers and 1 sister younger than myself there and Verle had 2 sisters and 2 brothers. We both consider ourselves lucky to have had a place such as the home to go to when our families fell apart.
We have seen the home change over the years a lot of this due to the change in society. Some changes are good, but I think we can all admit that the last 50 years has brought on a lot of changes that we would rather not have seen. The home was a refuge from the ills of society at one time. We were sheltered from these ills while at the home. Sometimes too sheltered. But by the time we graduated we were hopefully mature enough to go out into the " real world" and take care of ourselves. It was hard, but most of us succeeded.
That is what the Home should be. A place for children to mature and grow and learn away from all the turmoil that can be a part of life of children without a home.
The ISSC Home has given thousands of children opportunities to do just that. To grow up. That is what we as parents want for our own children, but it is not always possible for all children to have this.
The HOME should be a place for children to grow up. It was built for that purpose and it should stay for that purpose. It should not be a prison minimum or maximum security. Can you imagine any type of security on a place as large as the home, with the buildings spread out as they are? Not feasible. If they are going to put enough money into the place to secure prisoners they can put that same money in to doing what is necessary to have children there. The population of the Home has continued to go down over the years and I think
that has been part of the "larger plan" for the home. You can't tell me that with all of the homeless children in this state that they wouldn't be better off at the Home. They tried to make a prison of the Home several years ago and it failed.
Polititians know how to get what they want. If not by one way by another.
I have lived and worked in this community most of my life and I have seen the part the Home has played in it. It has provided jobs for thousands of people over the years. It has been a good neighbor. It truly would be a tragedy to take away something that has meant so much to so many people in so may ways.
Mitch Daniels is so proud of the "surplus" in the budget. Is that surplus already considering what he is going to gain by closing the Home and making a prison of it? Has he sold the Home already?
January 14, 2009 - Letter submitted by Glenda Carmichael, Class of 1968
I entered the Knightstown Children's Home in September 1961. If I hadn't been sent there, my life would have been really bad.
That's where I met, dated and, soon after graduation, married a guy from the Home. My life before going to the home was not good at all. My husband is grateful that he was sent to the Children's Home. So, we were both lucky to have grown up there.
The Children's Home taught us respect and consideration for others, plus we got an education. So.the Knightstown Home was exactly that, “our Home”. We still go back every year to visit friends and the ones who work at the home. There are a lot of children today who are physically and mentally abused. These same kids come from families, foster homes, or off the street. Wouldn't it be better to let them live in a loving home like the Knightstown's Children's Home, so they can get the attention they need and graduate? Also, when a judge puts a child in a correctional place, wouldn't it make more sense to send that kid to the Children's Home for a second chance? It would give those children a chance to improve themselves.
So please give double thought to this matter about closing the Knightstown Children Home. I believe there are a lot of children out there who could benefit from what the Home has to offer them. Not only would they make friends, but those friends will last a lifetime.
A child in the future years that needs a place like the home, could very well be related to the Governor or Senator. Wouldn't you want to know a loving place like this is still around? Lets make it happen. There must be a way if so many people agree.
January 14, 2009 - Letter submitted by Jerry Jordon, Past Post #152 Commander Knightstown Home Foundation President
From information I have received, I would guess that people from Indiana State Department of Health, Department of Education, Family and Social Services, the Governors' Office or others involved in making the decision to close the "Home" have spent less time collectively in contact with the students and staff of the "Home", than even a single Legion family member that has donated either their time or resources to these children.
It is only necessary to attend one Christmas party, graduation, birthday outing or American Legion Day with the students and staff to know that the residents of the "Home" will not be better off in their home communities.
January 14, 2009 - Letter submitted by Patty Bever, Carthage
FREE! Yes, I said "free." Do you realize that we have a free community service at our disposal that is conveniently located and clean! But, for how long will we be provided with a free recycling service when that service is abused? There are rules and regulations, which aren’t that difficult to follow. Maybe we need a huge white sign with the "do's" and "don'ts" listed in large red letters. The recycling bins are for paper, cardboard, plastics, tin cans, aluminum and glass. That does not include household garbage, electronics, home appliances, etc. And what is wrong with taking a few seconds to rinse out that can, jar or plastic container?
To safeguard against identity theft, cut out your name, address and account numbers from unwanted junk mail, catalogs, etc., and shred them.
Since we live outside the city limits and follow the recycling rules, we have reduced our weekly trash pickup to one plastic garbage bag per week for a family of two. And due to that reduction, the trash collection service that we deal with have given us a "senior citizen" discount on our quarterly billing statement.
Please follow the recycling rules and exercise a few seconds of environmental courtesy so our community will not lose this "free" convenient service.
Recycling also helps create jobs for others.
January 14, 2009 - Letter submitted by Ray, Theresa, Nathan, Anthony and Adam Hibbert
We would like to take this time to say “Thank You” to the following people. The Biehl family, The Bearhope family, The Hibbert Family, KHS Fire department, The Steve Wilkerson Family, The Jeff Wilkerson Family, The KHS Facility and Staff, The Gerald Family, Jody & Lauren McMahel, Patty & Michelle Keesling, Kathy & Ashley Smith, The KHS Basketball staff and their families, The Wyatt Family, The KHS Spanish Club, My Scrapbook friends, and to those who wish to remain anonymous. Your kindness and donations during the Christmas Holiday were very much appreciated. We were so overwhelmed. We are blessed to have people like you in our lives. There are not enough words to tell you how much we appreciate what you have done for us. Ray and I pray that God Bless you in return. Thank you again.
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