Testify, Testify

Best of luck on Thurs., Mar 28, to Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks), chairman of the House Human Services Committee, and Rep. Thomas Murt (R-Montgomery/Philadelphia), who will join Self Advocates and Family Alliance (SAFA) and 18 families for a press conference and hearing in Harrisburgh to scream bloody murder about the impact that proposed state budget cuts will have on those with disabilities and on the loved ones who care for them.

Also attending will be Dee Coccia, co-executive director of Vison For Equality Inc., who shared wrenching stories with me last week about how desperate families are for services - especially elderly parents caring for their disabled adult children.  Dee told me about a middle-aged, mentally impaired man who lived with his caregiver mom, who was in her 80s. One day, as he was helping her on the stairs, she fell, suffered for three days from her injuries and then died at the foot of the stairs. The son didn't know what to do. Finally, he knocked on a neighbor's door and said his mother was sick. The neighbor came over and found the body.

The irony? The son had been on a waiting list for services from the state, which would've been a help to both him and his mom. Now that the mom is gone, guess what? There are plans to place the son in an institution - which will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Why in God's name wasn't it possible for the son to receive services in the home prior to his mother's passing, at a fraction of what it will now cost to institutionalize him?

After my column ran, I recevied a thoughtful note from Jim McFalls, executive director of KenCrest Services and Lynch Services, and he made a point that Gov. Corbett seems to be missing. He wrote, "Gov. Corbett’s decision ignores the fact that, unlike most people applying for welfare as a temporary safety net, people with [intellectual disabilites] and autism have lifelong, chronic disabilities and need lifelong services. Their needs don’t fluctuate with the state’s economy."

Amen, Jim.

So, please, everybody, if you're anywhere near Harrsiburg Thursday morning, stop by the Main Capitol Rotunda at 9:00 a.m. for the press conference or for the informational meeting afterward in Room 140 (Majority Caucus Room) of the Main Capitol, where the affected families will share their stories with members of the House Human Services Committee. These good folks can use all the support you can give them. 

Fyi, both events will be streamed live at GeneDiGirolamo.com.  Tune in, and try not to cry.