Cool Jazz-Clean Water provides help here and in Africa

There aren’t many events where you can help young people in both Thurston County and Africa at the same time. It’s what makes the annual Cool Jazz–Clean Water wine- and beer-tasting event unique.

For more than a decade, South Sound Rotary Clubs have teamed up to raise more than a quarter of a million dollars to provide clean water to African villages and to provide new or refurbished band instruments to low-income students in area school districts.

The 2012 event is next Saturday, Nov. 17, from 7-10 p.m. at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts.

About 40 percent of the money raised goes to the African water projects, and 20 percent goes to fund leadership workshops for local youth-orientated nonprofits.

The other 40 percent funds the Cultural Assistance Program for Students created in 1992 by the Patrons of South Sound Cultural Arts (POSSCA). Using its proceeds from Cool Jazz-Clean Water, POSSCA purchases new musical instruments or pays to repair used instruments and places them in the hands of children who are “long on talent but short on funds.”

The organizations hands out about 40 instruments per year, ranging from flutes to drums, violins to saxophones.

For more information, go to cooljazzcleanwater.org, or possca.org.

Several Thurston County families will finalize their adoptions at a celebration Thursday, recognizing National Adoption Day.

Thurston County Family and Juvenile Court completes about 100 adoptions every year for stepparents, domestic partners, individuals and couples.

Many choosing to become lifelong parents time their adoption proceedings to coincide with National Adoption Day, which is officially Saturday, Nov. 18, but celebrated by the local courts on Thursday. Last year, 12 adoptions were finalized at the annual celebration.

This year’s celebration, scheduled from 4-6 p.m. in the family court at 2801 32nd Ave. SW in Tumwater, will feature Booker T. Bear and craft projects from the Hands On Children’s Museum.

The event is organized by the Family and Juvenile Court, Superior Court, the state Department of Social and Health Services and the county bar association.

Just in time for National Adoption Day, the Department of Social and Health Services, is asking about 9,000 families who adopted special-needs children around the state to volunteer to take cuts in their support payments.

According to The Associated Press, the letter asks, “... whether your family can accommodate a reduction in your current adoption support monthly payment. The amount can be any amount you determine is feasible.”

DSHS spends about $91 million per year in support for children who have mental, physical and emotional disabilities, as well as minorities, sets of siblings and older children.

The Legislature directed DSHS to ask for the cuts, according to news reports as a means of trimming state expenditures. That’s not the problem.

By making the cuts to support payments voluntary, the state is creating an infinite range of support based on the compassion of adoptive parents. It’s true, of course, that some adoptive parents can afford to support their child’s special needs more easily than others. But they won’t necessarily be the ones who volunteer to take less.

If the cuts were made based on some means test of household income, or even an across the board reduction, it would have been more fair.