Notes for Amherst Club, April 12, 2011 (anniversary of the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin)



By Club President Vivienne Carey

New Member:

Peter Snedecor (introduced by Jim Scott), who moved with Annie Scarff to Amherst three years ago. Peter earned degrees at both Amherst College (1969) and at Harvard. He retired in 2010 from teaching and school administration.


* Vivienne provided updates on members with health challenges, including a prompt for applause on behalf of Bill Darity, whose attendance at the meeting signaled a return to strength.

* Vivienne created a collective gasp by announcing that members Joan and  Alan Hansen were soon to be new parents! When she explained that the expected bundle of joy is a puppy, a good laugh was had by all!

* Reminder of the upcoming "Beautiful On A Budget" benefit fashion show and tea on April 28 for The Fisher Home of Hospice.

* Ruth Miller described her demur regarding the program of the previous weekly luncheon. Ruth asked the group "not to take at face value" the information as it was presented.

* Ruth Hooke announced "Voices of Chernobyl" a music program to be presented on April 25 at Grace Church.


Meredith Michaels (introduced by Flo Stern).

Topic: Children who suffer from neglect and abuse in Western Massachusetts.


Meredith, who is a research associate in the philosophy department at Smith College and co-author of "The Mommy Myth," described her journey from "big picture" issues in the context of philosophy to becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). 


Meredith and her husband adopted three children in the early 1990s, increasing their family to five. This, together with her work in reproductive ethics and epistemology (investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion) gave her increasing concern over the disconnect between the growth of children's needs and the social services available to them.


"I wanted to move from the big ideas in philosophy and get my feet on the ground over issues that came of the increasing numbers of kids placed as wards of the state," said Meredith.


With 12,000 children in Western Mass alone who are wards of the courts, solutions forged before and after the 2001 "Rosie D" federal child welfare case have generated a labyrinthian legal arrangement. Meredith said she hoped some of these problems would find redress in a new and pending case known as "Connor B."  Meredith explained that while the 2001 case shed light on the problem of "children languishing in the system without preparation for life in the community," many of its solutions were inappropriate for a great number of children.


The new case, representing issues very similar to a child for whom she is advocate, attempts to find a way out of inadequate services for "severely traumatized and troubled kids."



Bill Darity


Marian Mepham


Note taker:

Lois Kackley