Sujey Lopez' letter is the most poignant expression of grief that I have seen in print in a very long time ("My Son's Ashes," Dec. 4). No matter how you feel about what happened to Andy Lopez, this mother's words of heartbreak are raw and uncensored. It reminds us of the magnitude of the tragic sense of life. It makes it impossible to shy away from a mother's rage against the horrifying injustice of the world. Her words implore us to feel the depth of the inexplicable loss, instead of numbing out like we are so often encouraged to do in this culture. Ultimately, her loss is ours, and our ability to understand one another's hearts may just bring us more compassion and love this holiday. Bless you, Sujey Lopez and family.
Your readers might be interested to know that according to their most recent tax return, Goodwill Industries of the Redwood Empire paid its CEO $273,000 in fiscal year 2011–2012. This seems like an exorbitant sum of money for a supposed nonprofit organization to be paying. By comparison, Redwood Empire Food Bank paid its CEO only $137,000—half what Goodwill paid. Worse yet, the Food Bank's 2011-2012 revenue was twice as much as Goodwill's—$28 million vs. $15 million. So Goodwill's CEO made twice as much money for bringing in half as much revenue. Also interesting is that Goodwill's CEO made only $172,000 in 2010–2011. Why the $100,000 per year pay raise? Goodwill's mission of providing training and jobs to those who need them sounds admirable, but it looks like Goodwill's CEO is getting rich off the labors of the very people Goodwill claims to be helping—most of whom are part-time workers paid $8.50 to $9.50 an hour. How is that different from what for-profit businesses like McDonalds and Walmart do?
You might want to keep this in mind when deciding which charities to support this holiday season and in the future. And if you're looking for a good second-hand store at which to shop, consider the Salvation Army.
Editor's note: Goodwill's CEO is none other than Mark Ihde, who as a former Sonoma County sheriff is also drawing a $69,084 annual pension on top of his current salary.
I attend an academy in Petaluma on the SRJC campus called Gateway to College. Gateway to College is a program to help youth who haven't graduated high school or who struggle in high school. This program allows you to get your high school diploma and earn college credits at the same time. I would recommend this program to people if they have difficulties in school, or if they've dropped out and want to come back and get their diploma.
This program has so much to offer; the teachers and staff are nice and down to earth, and they actually want us to succeed and get to know us as human beings, not just as students in a classroom. Being at this school has helped me in many different ways. I used to be absent all the time; now I have perfect attendance. I hated being at school; now I love being here. It's helped me with my English, grammar, punctuation, etc. I couldn't even imagine my life without this program. I would probably be sleeping in everyday and watching TV while all of my friends are out getting an education.
In spring 2014 the school will be enrolling new students for the new semester. I would advise anyone who has been expelled, who dropped out or simply never graduated high school to come into the Gateway to College office at the SRJC Petaluma campus (680 Sonoma Mountain Pwky., Doyle Hall, Room 238). You can also call or email the director Vanessa Luna Shannon (707.778.3631; firstname.lastname@example.org).
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