Letters for the week of June 5

Feature, “Are You Ready for some Women’s Football?” May 22

Storm Warning

The KC Storm, the area’s longest-running women’s football team, is in its fourth season. Due to several improvements in the program in the off-season, the Storm players have enjoyed upgraded practice facilities, a better training program, reduced cost and reduced travel in 2008. Organizational changes have fueled sponsorships and support for the Storm.

The Storm continues to be an involved and giving member of our community, supporting sports and non-sports-related causes. Each home game this year has a theme, including breast-cancer awareness, domestic-violence awareness and prevention, self-defense and “going green,” where we will collect old tennis shoes to be recycled and made into playground surfaces for our children.

Jen Chen’s article on the recently formed Tribe, with its reference to the “rocky and divisive” history of women’s football (to use Chen’s words), disappoints all who are familiar with its history. The article contains out-of-context references and half-truth statements about the Storm organization, yet details none of the disruptive, juvenile and dishonest antics employed by the Tribe’s participants in the past three years that have so hurt women’s football in Kansas City.

The Storm remains dedicated to its mission of providing an opportunity for area women to play football, enhancing their health, self-esteem and well-being. It maintains a responsible budget that maximizes the financial stability of the organization. It provides an environment that embraces diversity and is intolerant of harassment. It serves as a role model for young girls, showing them it is okay to be strong and to assert yourself. Check us out at kcstorm.com.

Nance Wernes, president and founder, Kansas City Storm

Feature, “You’re Fired. Love, Hallmark,” May 15

Gone, Hasn’t Forgotten

I just read Eric Barton’s story about Hallmark. I was one of the 135 Hallmark IT employees who were outsourced to Affiliated Computer Services after 23 years of service with Hallmark. I didn’t want to be outsourced to ACS, but we really didn’t have a choice: Either be outsourced or quit. So I went with ACS and performed exactly the same job I was doing at Hallmark, just being paid by ACS. Part of Hallmark’s outsourcing deal with ACS stipulated that former Hallmark employees be kept for three years. As soon as three years hit, ACS began to eliminate former Hallmark employees who had the most seniority and who made the most money, regardless of job performance. Of the 135 former Hallmark employees now with ACS, only about 30 percent remain employed. ACS began moving the former Hallmark jobs to Mexico and Jamaica. I was let go last October along with several other employees. I remember walking the halls at Hallmark where, on the fifth floor, there was a wall display stating, “Our employees are our most valuable resource.” Soon after the outsourcing began in 2004, that display came down. Not only were IT and artist positions eliminated or outsourced, but so was Hallmark’s security department. Sad to say, but there will more than likely be more to come.

Name withheld by request

Feature, “We ❤ Matt,” May 8

Shawnee Mission Accomplished

It was a privilege and an honor to read Jen Chen’s recent article on Matthew Pope. The years surrounding junior high and high school are often times fraught with pain and confusion for any student, and particularly for those exploring their sexual identity. As a graduate of the Shawnee Mission School District, I am particularly pleased to see the district adopt attitudes that were unheard of just two decades ago, when I was a student.

It serves as a stark contrast to another Matthew — Matthew Sheperd. A decade ago, Matthew’s parents stood at a very different ceremony. Legislation that bears his name languishes in limbo. Hate-crime rates against GLBT youth remain high. Nearly a third of all GLBT youth have attempted suicide, and GLBT youth are nearly four times more likely to actually commit suicide.

Most of us will never know the extremes that either Matthew felt. We may never experience the euphoria of total acceptance or the horrific pain of humiliation and murder. But we thank both Matthews for their stories and their lives.

As an openly gay marketing executive and professor, I am proud to serve as a quiet — but never silent — ambassador for GLBT individuals as I make my way through life along with my partner. The blessings that come from a foundational education in one of the finest school districts in the nation indeed prepared me well for future educational and professional endeavors. I am pleased to read that this same education system stands as a beacon once again for others to follow.

Brian Van de Mark, San Diego

Drama Department

I had to write and say I loved the organization and the dramatic way that Jen Chen’s article on Matthew Pope unrolled! It got a lot of exciting talk in my circles. Congratulations.

Jeff Church, Kansas City, Missouri