As sure as you see robins in the spring, barbecues in the summer, and politicians in the fall, today you will find the U.S. 1 Calendar here to mark the change of season and the new year.

If your company is on a regular U.S.1 delivery route you should receive one with the arrival of this December 19 issue. If you are not and would like one, please stop by our office at 12 Roszel Road, Suite C-205. They are free — as long as they last.

This is also a good time to mark your calendars: U.S. 1 will be closed for a holiday break, Friday, December 21, through Thursday, December 27. There will be no issue December 26, but we will return on Wednesday, January 2. The deadline for news and advertising in that issue will be Friday, December 28.

We wish you all a safe and festive holiday season, and a calendar packed with great days in 2013.

#b#Post-Newtown, Concern at Home#/b#

If only the shooter in Connecticut had called a suicide prevention Hotline, or a counselor, or crisis chat, before he acted out his horrific plan. Perhaps he might have been stopped or the school alerted before he got there. If only he didn’t have ready access to guns and ammo in his own home.

The horrible tragedy of December 14 summons us to support a range of accessible mental health services from individual and group counseling to hotlines and online emotional support. As a nation our great challenge is to increase emotional well being in our communities, to prevent violence, and offer support to very distressed people.

Mass killers act with the intention of suicide as their final task. After fulfilling their brutal acts, they kill themselves. These mass killers are planners. They take time to assemble weapons, to gain entrance, to target. They have sinister goals, but, fundamentally, they are unhappy, unfulfilled people. Perhaps they want fame or infamy. But there is time, sometimes years, when they could be reached through community involvement and mental health resources. But community resources must be present, available, and easily accessible. And this investment in safety requires funding.

In just 14 days Mercer County is in jeopardy of losing its community safety net. The United Way’s decision to cut 100 percent of funding to two multi-agency collaborations that include mental health services, homeless programs, domestic violence services, nursery school programs, and youth services will reduce the availability of help. And in light of the Newtown killings, more children and adults everywhere, including Mercer County, will suffer from anxiety and uncertainty as their sense of personal safety and protection is eroding.

It is true that one cannot prove a negative. Yet, there is the possibility that a future wrenching tragedy might be averted by a caring community that provides accessible mental health and other supportive services. Perhaps such mass killings have been averted here already. We don’t know.

What we do know is that the impending United Way funding cuts will negatively impact all of the agencies involved. Staff will be laid off; availability of services diminished; and for what reason? Basically, the United Way’s new business strategy under its CEO, Herb Klein, is to keep more money right in the new offices of the United Way by providing direct services and funding them. They no longer see their mission as raising money to support community agencies.

This is the wrong path, and it is no wonder that the United Way’s campaign has struggled. But it is not too late. The United Way can reconsider its path forward. I would appeal to the Board, the CEO, and the donors, of which I am a 30-plus year donor, to cooperate with the defunded agencies and work out a strategy whereby services and funding might continue. I ask that we do this for the good of the community.

If only the United Way would rescind its impending 100 percent cuts in multi-agency funding scheduled for January 1, 2013. Then crucial humanitarian, suicide prevention, and mental health services would be sustained in Mercer County.

If only the United Way would see itself as a funder in the fabric of a compassionate community and financially support those programs that undergird the safety net for our vulnerable citizens. Then more troubled people would be helped.

If only our Mercer County Community will take notice of the outpouring of love, sharing, and caring that is taking place in Newtown, CT, and strive toward building a more compassionate community here. Then our compassion and our programs might provide healing to a desperate person who has thoughts of suicide and homicide, and possibly avert a tragedy.

We must acknowledge that there are unhappy and unfulfilled people in abundance. None of us knows the future. But it is in our best interest to provide opportunities and a positive path out of desperation. We are all connected by time and place and humanity. Let us work together to make this a better time and place for Mercer County.

Eleanor K. Letcher, MEd, CSW

Executive Director, CONTACT of Mercer County

#b#Benefit Sells Out#/b#

On November 17 more than 700 filled Richardson Auditorium for the Capitol Steps’ sold-out performance benefiting the Princeton Senior Resource Center.

Special thanks go to our honorary chairs, Bill and Judith Scheide and Ellen and Albert Stark. Thanks, too, to Rebecca Esmi and Audrey Hallowell, who chaired the event, and to committee members Rich Bianchetti, Dave Saltzman, Hazel Stix, Bob Hillier, Paul Gerard, Henry Opatut, Linda Richter, Todd Lincoln, Bill Isele, Jay Kuris, and Claire Jacobus, who worked tirelessly to make this year’s performance such a rousing success.

This event, the capstone of our fundraising year, provides significant financial support for the programs and services offered by PSRC and helps us achieve mission-critical goals to be the center of active aging in the greater Princeton area. We are grateful for the invaluable contribution of our corporate and individual sponsors who made this event possible, led by Judith and Bill Scheide, Ellen and Albert Stark, Archer & Greiner, the Gordon and Llura Gund Foundation, Otsuka, Arlene and Henry Opatut, Stark and Stark, Princeton Global Asset Management, Hill Wallack, Robert Hillier Architect, Hilton Realty, Dave Saltzman Insurance, Irwin and Cecilia Rosenblum, and Lynn and David Wong. For a complete list of our sponsors, visit our website at www.princetonsenior.org.

As the more than 1,200 people who attend PSRC programs each week and the 125 who receive our support and guidance services know, PSRC is serving the needs of the greater Princeton 55-plus community and their families all year long. We continue to provide dozens of programs and services and continue to empower older adults to make informed choices and live healthy lives.

We invite you to visit PSRC and see all the smiling faces in person! Learn more about our many programs such as Evergreen Forum, the Health Fair, newly expanded Next Step: Engaged Retirement and Encore Career program, GrandPals and Caregivers programs, as well as our countless support groups and services.

Sincere thanks to the many organizations, corporations, and individuals who partner with and contribute to PSRC. In doing so they enhance the Princeton area active adult community.

Susan W. Hoskins, LCSW

Executive Director

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