Saturday, April 03, 2010

Money Isn't Everything

A letter to the editor in today's St. Albert Gazette has raised controversy and sparked heated responses both on the newspaper's website and on Twitter. The letter is called Higher-earning families part of St. Albert's appeal and was written by Chris and Karleena Perry.

The Perrys live in an upscale neighbourhood of St. Albert and are concerned about a Habitat for Humanity project going up in the city. Their letter is basically a rant saying that they deserve a better quality of life because they work hard and that having lower-income people around will reduce their quality of life and corrupt the children with drugs and a negative influence. I can almost imagine the Perrys throwing their arms up in disgust, exclaiming "There goes the neighbourhood!"

Besides being NIMBYs of the worst order, the Perrys are woefully mistaken on a number of issues. First of all, drugs are everywhere, especially in areas where rich kids have too much money and not enough to do. Secondly, the Perrys are doing their teenage son no favour by sheltering him. Children who grow up in diverse neighbourhoods and schools - both in terms of socio-economic levels and ethnicity - actually do better academically and in life.

I feel sorry for the Perry's son. I fear he has grown up with the idea that his money and possessions are what give him value. After all, the Perrys themselves say that their son had trouble fitting in at school - until his "friends" came over and saw their nice house and all the nice things he had. Not only does Junior not understand what the true value of a person is (such as how they treat the less fortunate - just as an example), but does not understand the true values upon which real friendships are based.

I grew up in a reasonably well-to-do family. I had trouble "fitting in." I thought the solution would be to acquire the same toys and designer clothes the other kids had. Although I shed tears and battled with my parents over this, they stuck to their morals and taught me that people who would be my friend based on what I have, instead of who I was, were not really friends after all.

What really offended me by the Perry's self-righteous sense of entitlement was the statement that they "deserve" to live in St. Albert. Working hard does not necessarily equal being wealthy enough to afford to live in a gated community. I know many people who work hard in often thankless jobs, particularly for various social agencies and organizations, and do not attain such material wealth. However, their contributions to society are priceless.

Chris and Karleena, having money does not make you better people. It does not make you immune to societal problems. It puts you in a position to be able to help others. The money and wealth of this world is fleeting and temporary. It is what you do with your resources and time that counts in the long run.

Today, I sent a financial donation to Habitat for Humanity and I look forward to some day being a volunteer on a build. Maybe it will even be in St. Albert.


Theresa said...

Thank you for this kind and compassionate response to the confusion and delusion in that letter. :)

lex said...

Well said!

jordyn said...

Thank you so much for this, I couldn't have put it better myself.

rhinana said...

Nice response! Submit it to the gazette or call global news, Chris gave a statement tonight and will be doing an interview tomorrow night according to global. you would be an excellent rebuttal!

StaZ said...

Bravo!!! Thank you for your realism and being a voice of reason in this crazy world. That article makes my blood boil!

Ron Palmer said...
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Qualityresults said...

It is unfortunate that there are people out there that have the mentality that inherantly violates the freedoms as canadians, we enjoy. And I can not believe the St Albert Gazette played a part in this by printing it. Habitat for Humanity does a service for people trying to move in the right direction by giving them a hand up not a hand out. These people have no idea what is involved, and based on the statements that they have made I know why their kids would not hang out with kids from a Habitat home, hopefully the kids have more sense than that and fall far from the tree.

Many Families from Habitat for Humanity participate in the community and give back, which in my opinion is of a higher status than that of the writers of the letter.THey can have their little sign that says Priviledge has it's place as you enter Kingswood, I wouldn't want the priviledge!!!!

Paula E. Kirman said...

Thanks for all of your feedback. I have sent the text of my post to the St. Albert Gazette as a Letter to the Editor, and I am trying to get in contact with Global.

David Mathew Bonner said...

Does anyone know what buisness these two clowns own? I for one would like to be sure to never give these two a dime of mine

David Mathew Bonner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Mathew Bonner said...

never mind, found it

All Heart Property Maintenance & Landscaping Ltd.
St. Albert, Alberta

How Ironic..for a couple of people with no heart...

Mark Roseman said...

Beautifully written Paula, thank you.

Swallow said...

While we well and truly appreciate Chris & Karleena Perry’s comments concerning density & parking issues surrounding the proposed Habitat/Apollo Project in Akinsdale, we by no means share the same feelings about the rest of their letter. One thing we do know for sure is that there’s much more to the HfH story than the media cares to share.

For instance:
- Andy Banack, CEO of Apollo Developments was on the board of Habitat for Humanity when discussions were taking place concerning the development of 71 Arlington Drive. Only weeks prior to the start of the bidding process, Mr. Banack stepped down and bid under his company name – Apollo Developments. Of course, HfH head office has exonerated Mr. Banack of any wrongdoing, but it still doesn't look good.

- Habitat/Apollo claim they need 58 units on a very small property, to make the project “financially viable”, yet only 2 duplexes were enough to be considered “financially viable” in the North Ridge subdivision?

- Only 14 2 story units are will be slated for Habitat residents. The rest will belong to Apollo Developments.

- Purchasers of the units owned by Apollo Developments will receive the same mortgage benefits as the Habitat residents, without having to qualify under Habitat’s rigid standards.

- Apollo Developments brag that they are giving back $1.3M to HfH, as their charitable duty. This is easy to do, when you get the land for FREE.

- The $840,000 charge for the property in question will be paid for with funds from provincial and municipal coffers.

- the 58 units are approximately 800+ square ft, 2 story units, without basements and back yards measuring approximately 4′x4′, with minimal parking for homeowners & visitors.

- City bylaws will have to be changed in order to meet Habitat/Apollo’s new style of building standards (i.e. building OUTSIDE the property envelope).

- the overcrowded units will loom over the homes of people who were told that the land directly behind them was slated for a school and that’s why their yards were 10 feet shorter and they paid more for the privilege.

- Complaints made to Habitat for Humanity’s head office were met with the comment that they (head office) had little or no control over the regional offices.

I could go on and on, but for those of you who believe that St. Albert is full of people like Chris and Karleena Perry, you probably didn’t get through 1/2 of this message…

Right about now, Mr. Nikolai must be in his glory, as the Perry letter takes some heat off the HfH/Apollo project. Chances are that Mr. Nikolai not only saw the movie “Wag the Dog”, but he took notes, as well!

Cherish said...

Beautifully written. Thank you for expressing my immediate reaction to this horrible letter