Optimists mark 50 years of joy

ON MARCH 12, the Old Town Optimist Club of Albuquerque celebrated its 50 th year of service to our community and most specifically to the youth of Albuquerque. Since March 12,1969, the members of the club have been a constant presence in the lives of the fine people of Albuquerque. In thousands of ways, both remembered and life-changing, we have touched the hearts of people young and not so young. Through all these years, we have provided hope and a positive vision, and in doing so we have continually brought out the best in youth.

As members of the Old Town Optimist Club gathered to celebrate this significant milestone, we shared laughter, as well as some tears, as we remembered all the projects and programs of the past 50 years, such as the youth camps at Corkins Lodge. The giant youth Christmas parties at the Albuquerque Convention Center and the statewide bilingual spelling bee for senior citizens. The " Respect for Law" programs and, our favorite, the giant fireworks shows at the state fairgrounds. Just to name a few.

Looking back to remember where we came from, we must thank the people of Albuquerque and the many businesses that recognize and help our mission to the needs of the youth. As we celebrated the past 50 years, we share this joy of accomplishment with you.

ROBERT E. ROMERO President, Old Town Optimist Club, Albuquerque

Thanks for world - class world-class care at UNMH

I RECENTLY visited Rio Rancho to spend time with family. I am from Wellington, Fla. My husband passed away five years ago after losing a prolonged battle to a rare cancer, Ewing Sarcoma. He had treatment in four different hospitals, as well as surgery at NYC's Memorial Sloan Kettering. I spent time taking care of him in many hospitals, and know what good hospital care and customer service feels like.

While visiting family in Rio Rancho this month, I was rushed to New Mexico's University Hospital with pancreatitis and an aneurysm in the artery feeding blood to my pancreas. Quickly, the cardiology department ran tests to confirm I needed a medical procedure to repair the bleeding aneurysm. After I was stable, I was transferred to a room in the oncology ward. There I was met by a nurse named Kayla, who went above and beyond to explain everything to me: what medications I was on, what my treatment plan was, where everything was located and what to do if I needed any help. She took great care of me for several nights and it was wonderful to have such faith in my nurse.

Because I don't watch television, when I needed something, I was very alert as to how long it took for my care team to respond. But oftentimes, before I even needed anything, someone was already there to check on me. I would ring the bell, tell them what I needed and if it took ( too ) long, the charge nurse, Sandra, was quickly in the room, always with a smile on her face, seeing if she could help. If it was something regarding my immediate care, she would find the nurse to follow up. Almost every night, the care technician, Sara, would come in, check my vitals and weight, tidy up my room and assist me in any way I needed. She also walked with me bright and early at 4 a. m. when I was already awake for the day - still on Florida time.

I would honestly say that these staff members were outstanding and run the department in the same great way I had experienced at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Thanks again for the amazing - and consistently amazing - care I received, not just for a single night, but every night I was there. Thanks so much for helping me to heal quickly: Charge nurse Sandra, nurses Kayla and Courtney, care tech Sara.

CAROLYN MOSES Wellington, Fla.

State stores just socialism at worst

I WAS astonished at the socialist marijuana legalization bill. It appears the Senate Republican bill called for state-run dispensaries and that decision carried over to the final bill ( which died in the Senate Finance Committee ). The government taking over businesses is socialism at its worst!.

The idea that " state-run stores. might be the ' most responsible way' for regulating marijuana sales " is absurd. It encourages mediocrity that creates greater risk for diversion of marijuana into the black market. In a state-run store, everyone is an employee with no incentive to follow regulations.

Preventing proliferation of marijuana shops is fairly simple - other states and cities create a circular zone around each shop and other shops are not allowed within that zone, for example a 500-foot radius.

By contrast to state-run businesses, private ownership provides significant incentive - it's called profit. Owners have a huge investment to preserve, and must carefully follow regulations so they are not fined and will not lose their business. Owners take personal pride in serving customers and training employees regarding marijuana benefits and side effects to ensure customers return - in order to create profit.

DIANE DALTON Corrales

Euphemisms hide border reality

ASYLUM SEEKERS? Is that why so many of them proudly waved the flag of the country they were coming from? I guess that's the new pull-the-wool-over-Americans' -eyes term the ultra-liberal Associated Press Handbook is telling everyone to use instead of " illegal aliens."

GILBERT ARAGON Albuquerque

Maintain vital funding efforts to fight HIV / AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria

RE: LANL scientist honored for HIV vaccine, Journal March 11

HIV / AIDS used to be untreatable. Then, thanks to anti-retroviral drugs, it became treatable, but uncurable. ( This month ), we learned that two patients have been cured. Now comes the news that thanks to work at Los Alamos National Laboratory, we may soon be able to prevent HIV by means of a vaccine. It's a startling progression that would not have happened without a concerted worldwide effort.

There is no better example of that effort than the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Since 2002, the Global Fund has transformed the global response to AIDS and the two other major global killers. The U. S. and other donor countries have helped lay the foundations for ending these diseases through partnerships with affected countries and smart investments that build the ability of countries to manage their public health.

The Global Fund operates on three-year funding cycles. A replenishment of its funds is due this fall. Our budget this year needs to reflect the importance of eliminating these diseases as major factors. Sens. ( Tom ) Udall and ( Martin ) Heinrich, and Reps. ( Deb ) Haaland, ( Xochitl ) Torres-Small and ( Ben Ray ) Luján should support our fair share of the funding for the next three years.

The Global Fund has saved more than 27 million lives since 2002, and we are poised with this plan to save another 16 million lives by 2023. Based on the progress we've made since 2002, perhaps we can look forward to more unexpected good news, as well.

ROXANNE ALLEN Albuquerque