Chamber will stand strong to support business community 

To say this is an unprecedented time for our community, our nation and our world would be an understatement. Over the past few days, the number of questions and concerns the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce has received from the local business community has been tremendous. Unfortunately, many of these are very difficult questions and not a lot of easy answers exist.

Businesses are concerned about how to implement new federal sick leave policies, helping their employees apply for unemployment if layoffs are necessary, they want to know how to apply for federal loans, they need help implementing work at home policies to keep their workforce safe, they are seeking best practices on how to transition to selling online, and the list goes on and on.

Through all these questions, one thing is apparent ... a genuine desire to do the right thing. We have seen a willingness to think creatively, a determination to take challenges head-on and an overall resilient attitude.

At the Chamber we are not exempt from similar questions, fears and frustrations — for ourselves and our members. The Chamber team has answered member questions to the best of our abilities, connected them with local and state resources and encouraged them to persevere and be resourceful through all the uncertainty.

Our staff has worked hard to assemble an online Business Resource Guide. This free resource is available to anyone via our website and is updated daily with relevant information. Additionally we are working to communicate which businesses remain open and which are offering carry-out and delivery services via our Restaurant Guide During COVID-19 and the Retail Business Guide During COVID-19. We encourage businesses to send relevant information to our staff — and we encourage the general community to reference these guides to continue to support local.

We are staying in constant communication with the West Central Indiana Small Business Development Center and Indiana State University’s Business Engagement Center, as well as a wide variety of other resources to keep the business community educated.

In the coming weeks, you will continue to see the Chamber remain steadfast in its mission of Building Business. Building Community. We will continue to support our business community to the best of our ability by providing relevant resources, all while advocating at the state and federal government levels.

Thank you to the West Central Indiana community for the outpouring of support for our local businesses. We have received countless messages from business owners and managers, grateful for the community’s carry-out orders, gift card purchases and notes of encouragement. We know this is not easy, the uncertainty is frightening and there are many questions that are going unanswered, but the Chamber’s support for you and your business is unwavering. We are here and we want to help.

— Kristin Craig, Chamber President, and the entire Chamber Team

Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce

Act now to stop the slaughter of Nigerian Christians

As a Christian in America, I practice my faith freely and without fear of oppression. I have the luxury of using my vote to elect leaders who embrace the core values I hold dear. Despite deep disagreements in this country, I have never been subjected to violence or persecution because of my beliefs. For this, I am grateful.

Christians face persecution around the world. North Korea, China, and Iran all come to mind as dangerous places for Christians to practice their faith as the level of violence against Christians increases across the world. Many are unaware of the rapidly escalating persecution against Christians in Nigeria, Africa’s largest nation. Nigeria was recently designated 12th on the Open Doors World Watch List of most dangerous countries to be a Christian.

My husband Bill and I have seen the struggles in Nigeria up close and personal. We have come to know Nigeria over almost a decade of mission and charity work, both here in the U.S. and in Nigeria. Our work now runs through the MOYA Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing education and therapy to children with Autism, Down Syndrome, and hearing impairment in underserved countries.

With a MOYA Foundation-sponsored school for the deaf and hearing impaired now in its first year of operation in Nigeria we’ve seen the violence and rising tensions against practicing Christians, and the terrible consequences it has on those who are in most need in the country.

Over the years we have received calls and emails from educators in northern Nigeria requesting our help to educate their children with special needs. The danger of violence is very real, especially toward children and educators in the north. As civilians of the U.S., we have very little ability to help due to conflict and violence.

From our recent conversations with our “in country” Nigerian friends, the situation is even worse. The violence in the north along with the risk of being kidnapped in the south still loom making it difficult to help these areas, so our foundation functions limitedly and carefully in the relatively calm west, where tensions are still apparent.

This violence has come largely at the hands of Fulani militants and Boko Haram terrorists. In the last months more than 300 Christians were murdered in Nigeria, another 200 were abducted, and around 3,700 Nigerians have been displaced by the violence. Some reports show that seven to eight Christians are slaughtered in Nigeria every day, and 50 each week.

Attacks from Fulani militants on Christian communities accounted for the majority of Nigeria’s documented terrorist fatalities in 2018. In total, terrorism and ethno-religious violence have produced nearly 1.8 million internally displaced persons in Nigeria and more than 300,000 others are taking refuge in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. The incidents of terrorism outnumber those in war-torn Syria and Pakistan.

I live free of fear as a Christian in America — but our brothers and sisters in Nigeria live every day with the threat of violence because of their beliefs. It is time to acknowledge that the most necessary service is not always the most convenient. Our Christian brothers and sisters in Nigeria do not have anywhere to turn, and they need our help.

We can do more. President Trump should formally recognize the crisis in Nigeria by designating it as a country of concern and send a special envoy to the nation. America has the chance to take action and keep thousands from being slaughtered for their religious beliefs — but we must act now.

— Robin Puerner, Brazil

Assessing those standardized tests

The sharpening of No. 2 pencils, unwrapping of tightly sealed packets, filling bubbles, sweaty palms, glancing at the clock, and the wave of nervousness flooding the body. One test has such a critical impact on our students across the world. 

In the public eye, this strategy seems efficient, easy, and cost-effective. And yes, this is true. However, even though these tests are appealing to the eye, we should analyze and question their design. Are these assessments even fulfilling the purpose for which they were created? Are they addressing all students? Are students in the right frame of mind? Are they encouraging guessing and memorization? Is this accurate or fair? 

These are several of the many questions that flood teachers’ minds. Along with this, many teachers feel that testing takes away valuable classroom time and places additional pressure upon students and themselves.

It is even driving teachers out of a profession that is already of high demand. Teacher Connie Fawcett states, “I would much rather help students learn how to conduct research and how to discuss and how to explore controversies and how to complete multi-task projects than teach them how to recall this or that fact for an exam.”

Teachers like Connie have recognized the faults of standardized tests and desire change in order to help students learn. With such a high emphasis on standardized testing, students forget the purpose of their education. To learn. To grow. 

Students should not feel as though one test defines their intelligence, more importantly their value. This creates more broken hearts than successful individuals; instead of filling our students with knowledge and support, we are filling them with self-doubt. Instead of teaching to a test, shouldn’t we spark inquiry, passion, and curiosity? Prepare our students for the diverse world and shape them into well-rounded individuals? 

There are more components to adequately assessing student knowledge. I am not saying we should abolish standardized tests, but reflect upon how accurate they are as well as their influence upon the school community.

— Lauren Holden, Indiana State University, Future educator, Cedar Lake

Appreciation for great services

This is a letter that is long overdue. I would just like to say how very much I appreciated the employees who worked at First Financial Bank at the Honey Creek Square mall location. 

I work close to Honey Creek and enjoyed the convenience but it was more than that. The employees there always did a good job but even more I felt like their friend. Good job Honey Creek First Financial friends, you were awesome and I miss you. I go to another branch now and they are good but I sure loved Honey Creek. Thanks for many wonderful years.

Also thanks to the doctors, nurses, health care providers, newspaper employees and carriers, truckers, grocery and pharmacy people and all others who are helping make these hard times easier. And God bless to the nursing home providers and employees who are working even harder now than before.

By the way, here in Terre Haute I have only seen the best side of people while grocery shopping.

I pray for all of us at this time. May a cure for this virus come soon.

— Pam Gentry, Terre Haute

III

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