Consider our community By Chris Buck, Esq. Submitted to Fosters, Nov.

28, 2010 It isn’t often you hear a Republican speaking up for spending, but that is exactly what I would like to do with respect to Community Partners. I first became acquainted with this great organization during their Candidates’ Forum in the context of my campaign for State Representative. It was one of the best attended events of the 2010 political season, and included several of Strafford County’s political leaders, both incumbents and challengers. Now that the campaign season is over, it’s time to reach across the aisle and fight for essential services. This newspaper challenged us to speak up and be heard with respect to the county budget (“Now is the time to take control,” Nov. 27, 2010), and in that spirit I hope to impress upon the County Commissioners and all citizens of Strafford County why Community Partners is one of the most important and effective organizations to deserve our commitment and funding. Community Partners serves families and individuals in Strafford County dealing with mental health issues. Mental health, encompassing a broad range of issues, illnesses, and diagnoses, is one of the most important priorities for our society. It is estimated that 1 in 3 Americans suffer from some sort of mental health issue or illness (according to SAMHSA.gov). That means nearly every family will likely be affected in their lives. Community Partners excels in treating and supporting our friends and family members because they understand the broad range of ways that abnormalities in the human brain can affect a person’s quality of life. Community Partners addresses developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, psychiatric conditions, and acquired brain disorders. They look at the person from a holistic perspective, encouraging improvements to their quality of life in all aspects, mental, emotional, vocational and spiritual. In a society where there term “mental health” is unfairly stigmatized, Community Partners gets it. As a fiscal conservative, I would like to see budgets cut across the board, more of an emphasis placed on charitable giving than entitlements, and more accountability with how current funds are spent. But a maxim of government that both liberals and conservatives ought to observe is that those who cannot advocate for themselves deserve our compassion and support. While many of Community Partners’ clients are indistinguishable from you and I – they are productive members of society who work and pay their taxes and provide for their families – some face challenges far greater than we will ever know. And it is precisely because of the unique challenges they face that they are not as able to advocate for their needs. A reduction in the budget for this organization would have a negative ripple effect throughout our community. Moving forward, it is my understanding that Community Partners is already exploring ways to become more efficient and less dependent on taxpayer funding. In discussions with board members, I have been told they are looking to increase private contributions and decrease reliance on Medicaid payments and support from the State and County. In the last budget cycle, several agencies were supported by one-time stimulus funding, including Community Partners. Now that we have to foot more of the bill, I humbly ask the County Commissioners, and indeed

the citizens of Strafford County, not to abandon this organization, but to help bridge the gap to a time when they will be more financially independent. Our community will reap the rewards of our support, as it would the consequences of our inaction. Chris Buck, Esq. Law Office of Christopher C. Buck Dover, NH

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