Yesterday, my sister and I toured my brother’s new program.
After years of trying to patch together daily activities for my brother Bill, he is finally in a structured day program that gets him out and in the community from 9a-3pm Monday through Friday. Bill, who is autistic, has wanted a regular program for forever and a day…it took years to get him in one after he became ineligible to work due to a series of anti-people budget cuts and changes in our home state of Missouri.
I’d like to explore this for a spell.
***steps up on soap box***
We the people need to look good and hard at what we’re cutting through budget cuts.
We need to look at what is, not at what has been spun.
When the Governor of Missouri announces spending cuts to programs that have already been slashed to the bone in previous budgets he is announcing that those programs will be programs in name only.
And those programs impact the lives of thousands of Missourians.
Don’t get me wrong…there’s all kinds of spending we need to cut at the state and federal level.
But I toured a program yesterday that is pretty damned awesome. My brother is part of the program run out by the same organization that manages his residential program – it connects residents with volunteer opportunities at homeless shelters and other area charities in need of volunteers. This program also involves classes that enrich the volunteer experience by stressing life skills, sign language, and appropriate behavior in a community environment.
In short, this is the kind of program that represents what communities can do when we work together…and the sad truth is that I’m going to have to focus all kinds of energy and advocacy to defend funding for this program because state government doesn’t look at what works anymore in this current environment of Cut & Slash.
I haven’t looked at the new slashified budget for Missouri. I’ll have to and soon. I know better than most that protecting funding is a never ending war against those who put on blindfolds then start whirling their machetes.
For the record…I’m not a saint. I’m not some super hero who should be praised for doing what I know without a doubt my brother would do if the tables were turned.
I’m a sister.
This is my family…my community…my state and, therefore, my motherfucking budget too.
Yesterday I toured an awesome facility…one that I am proud to have in my community. I looked at the gym where my brother plays basketball, at the classroom with his name in bright colors on the wall, and at a drawing of a smiling face on the chalkboard that represents how Bill was feeling being there.
It took years for us to get to this point...to the point where we were touring a program Bill is enrolled in rather than hearing about programs he doesn’t qualify for.
I’m a sister and I’m fighting for that smiling face on the wall.
And you can bet your ass I'm carrying that image with me as I prepare for yet another budget battle.
***steps off soap box***