Rather than sell the John J. Foley nursing home building, Suffolk County should use it as a center for much-needed services to reduce the number of deaths of youth caught up in the heroin and "free meth" epidemics. A rehabilitation center at this site also could give hope to homeless veterans and others who cannot be accepted at overburdened residences, such as Hope House Ministries.
The former 246-bed Foley nursing home could house even more clients, depending on the layout of classrooms, library and offices.
The center would help people re-enter society. The Federal Bureau of Prisons offers a guide to establishing residential drug-abuse treatment programs that require intensive self-examination, leading to changes in behavior.
Services could also include a mentoring system. Technical assistance for this is available through the U.S. Department of Labor. Mentors learn how to gain a client's trust for times when challenges appear insurmountable.
Another potential service is a one-stop employment center. The Suffolk Cooperative Library System could ensure that an on-site library meets its standards. Have BOCES provide computer training to those lacking this skill, enhancing opportunities for employment.
The center also could widen horizons. The Cornell Cooperative Extension, working with the Suffolk County jail in Yaphank, teaches horticulture to inmates at the nearby Suffolk County Farm and Education Center. Expand this type of learning, and create new avenues of employment. Cornell already has expressed interest.
Cars also increase employability significantly. Used cars scheduled to be auctioned could be one source of inexpensive vehicles. Have mechanics at the rehabilitation center repair vehicles in a garage.
Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco supports the concept of using this building for rehabilitation, as do other professionals.
A cost-benefit analysis should take into account the financial burdens the center would lift from corrections, the courts, law enforcement and social services. Also, the graduates would leave with career paths, mentors, support groups, the prospect of a car, a month's rent and deposit, raised self-esteem, and health both in spirit and body.
Thomas Beirne, Smithtown
Editor's note: The writer is a volunteer with the Philemon Fellowship, a transitional mentoring program for ex-offenders and male inmates in Suffolk who are close to being released.
Reserve parking for wounded
I read an article saying that a Home Depot in Bonita Springs, Florida, erected signs reserving parking spots for wounded veterans.
What a great idea for our wounded warriors. Why not erect the same signs here?
Jack Taylor, West Hempstead
Keeping road repair $$ local
I have come up with a crazy idea to repair our roads. Why not do what charities do to raise money?
Make donations to road repairs tax deductible, so we could directly help improve where we live.
People living on Long Island could donate money to repair our roads, and we would get a tax deduction. The money would then be spent on us, not the rest of the state or country, like they do with our taxes.
This also would create road repair jobs here -- a win-win situation.
Randy Perlmutter, Oceanside