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Our Opinion: 91-year-old man’s cereal diet is distressing; connect area seniors with social services

First Posted: 8:55 pm - August 26th, 2015 Updated: 8:55 pm - August 26th, 2015. - Views

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DIAL FOR HELP

Help Line connects callers with the area’s social service programs, including Meals on Wheels and food banks. Call 1-888-829-1341 or 2-1-1.

Area Agency on Aging of Luzerne and Wyoming Counties supports senior citizens. Call 1-800-252-1512.

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We don’t know Abram Belles’ whole story.

But we do know this about the 91-year-old Wilkes-Barre Township man who is on the verge of losing his home in a back-tax sale: He shouldn’t be subsisting on, as he describes it, cold cereal and a few homemade meals provided each week by a neighbor. That Belles, a former electrician, apparently does get by on so little, and that he and other people across Northeastern Pennsylvania seemingly aren’t being connected with the social services available to them, is a disgrace.

Belles’ predicament bothered many people who read about it.

In a news article Wednesday, Times Leader reporter Jennifer Learn-Andes outlined how the widower took out loans to pay prior taxes on his own home and a rental property in the township, ultimately causing him to fall even further behind financially. Belles owes about $8,000 in overdue property taxes. He is expected to apply to participate in Luzerne County’s hardship program for delinquent taxpayers.

Several readers questioned why Belles hadn’t yet sold his rental property to pay off debts and stash away cash. Others simply said they wanted to help Belles; one man intends to collect donations via a crowdfunding website. We hope a groundswell of support, fanned by our news coverage, soon puts Belles in a far better situation.

But what about the rest of our “neighbors,” those whom politely and sometimes disingenuously are referred to as having “fallen through the cracks?”

From rural Fairmount Township to Wilkes-Barre’s most densely populated neighborhoods, certain individuals and families don’t get enough healthy foods in their daily diets. Some forgo necessary health care or dental care. Still others, including several who frequent Wilkes-Barre’s downtown, seemingly require mental health intervention, addiction treatment, a place to stay or perhaps some combination of those services.

Pride interferes; some adults stubbornly will choose self-deprivation rather than, for instance, a monthly trip to the local food bank.

As a community, however, we need to do a better job of identifying individuals in need of social services, convincing them to accept help during a rough patch and then linking them to the right agency or agencies. Too often, area residents who could assist – by making a phone call on behalf of a neighbor or relative, or by directing a stranger to a nearby homeless shelter – instead choose to overlook the obvious. Or they don’t know what to do.

In some instances, all it takes is a single phone call to Help Line – the region’s information and referral service – at 2-1-1.

Make the call. Today.

DIAL FOR HELP

Help Line connects callers with the area’s social service programs, including Meals on Wheels and food banks. Call 1-888-829-1341 or 2-1-1.

Area Agency on Aging of Luzerne and Wyoming Counties supports senior citizens. Call 1-800-252-1512.

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