Thumbs up/down for Monday, Aug. 12, 2013

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Thumbs up to the Literacy Connection. The Janesville group, in partnership with Faith Lutheran Church, has started classes to help Spanish-speaking adults earn high school equivalency degrees. The two-hour weekly GED Preparation Class started May 6 as a pilot program. Prompting it was the popularity of a similar class offered by the Stateline Literacy Council in Beloit. The church and the Literacy Connection hoped to begin small but quickly registered 18 students. The class will help Spanish-speaking adults reach educational goals and stretch career potential. Cathy Jennings, the Literacy Connection's executive director, hopes to secure grants to buy more laptops for the class because, starting in 2014, GED tests will be offered only online. Thus test takers will need to know how to type and navigate the Internet. For details, contact the Literacy Connection at theliteracyconnection.com or 608-756-3125.

Thumbs down to utility scammers. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Thomas Content reported in last Tuesday's Gazette, sophisticated scam artists are targeting utility customers. They tap into caller ID on your phone to say your utility is calling with the urgent message that your electric meter is malfunctioning and your home could explode. Or a caller purportedly from the “Wisconsin Energy Disconnection Department” tells a homeowner or businessperson that the bill is overdue and must be paid now to avoid a disconnection. The caller directs you to buy a prepaid debit card, then call back with the card number. The scammer cleans the cash out of the card. Dozens of customers have been duped, officials say. Be skeptical of such calls. Utilities own electric meters and wouldn't require a deposit for a new one. Customers who are behind on bills get written notices of possible disconnections. Listen to your instincts, advises Cathy Schulze of We Energies. Don't call the number the caller provides; instead, call your utility's customer service line.

Thumbs up to the power of laughter. As about 50 people at the Janesville Senior Center recently found out, laughter can be infectious. Studies also show it can be good for your spirits and physical health as it reduces stress and boosts immune responses. That's why Esther Turner and Cynthia Paris were introducing seniors to their “Body Laughter” class. It's based on something called Laughter Yoga but is designed to include more of the former than the latter. Participants started with fake laughter that quickly gave way to side-splitting belly laughs. Why not make a positive attitude and, yes, laughter part of your daily routine toward good health? Learn about future classes by contacting Janesville's Turner 608-289-1125, by emailing rhythmoflife@gmail.com or by checking out Laughter Yoga Midwest on Facebook.

Thumbs up to the rescue of Rocky. Credit kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Janesville with helping rescue a kitten with its paw stuck in a retaining wall of the Rock River. Shatayvia and Jonathon Floyd and Dakayla and Kaniya Redd spotted the feline and sprinted for help. Tiffany Meeks of the club and a friend used baby oil to free the feral kitten. The kids dubbed it Rocky, and Meeks took it to Touched by a Paw, a no-kill shelter at 182 W. Main St., Whitewater. Janna Burhop founded and runs the shelter with the help of generous volunteers and donors. Thirty-five cages sit in the back of her consignment shop. Burhop estimates the shelter has found homes for about 2,500 cats the past 20 years. As Anna Marie Lux explained in her Aug. 4 column, kids at the youth club pooled allowances and held a small fundraiser to collect at least $185 to pay for Rocky's shots and other care. What a great lesson in compassion for these kids. Contact Touched by a Paw at 262-473-4769 or touchedbyapaw.org.

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