Lend a helping hand

Published: Sunday, January 4, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 3, 2004 at 9:32 p.m.

The difficult situation the residents of the Kennedy Homes apartments face goes beyond the long-term question of when these families will have their homes back. There is the immediate issue of how they live on a day-to-day basis.

Having children of my own, I certainly sympathize with the parents cooped up week after week in a hotel room with kids having nothing to do, nowhere to go and no way to get there. This is particularly problematic during the holidays when a child's day is not taken up with the hours spent in school. In a community like this there are indeed things for kids to do. There are city parks, the SFCC zoo, the YMCA and Girls/Boys Clubs, as well as movies and indoor play spaces such as O2BKids. But, for the Kennedy Homes families, these options are a world away.

If, as a community, we believe it takes a village to raise a child, then it behooves us to collectively take action to ease the burden these families face. Would it be possible for the city to provide a RTS bus & driver to pick up the children and their parents from their temporary hotel-homes to take them to any of the city parks or to the SFCC zoo for a day? Could any of the town's restaurants offer to provide box lunches while the children play at the park or enjoy the zoo? If the weather is poor, perhaps one of the movie theaters could open their doors to these families for one afternoon of cinematic entertainment. Likewise, a day at the Y or the Girls/Boys Club would be a positive and enriching way to spend the day, as opposed to sitting in a cramped hotel room.

AIMCO and HUD have let these parents and children down with no solution in sight. The community of Gainesville has the resources and manpower to help ease the burden of these families and should do so instead of turning a blind eye.

Susan Bottcher,


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