State budget forces nonprofit in Norwich to make cuts - WFSB 3 Connecticut

State budget forces nonprofit in Norwich to make cuts

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NORWICH, CT (WFSB) -

A nonprofit that provides for thousands in southeastern Connecticut is facing some serious cuts.

Under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposed budget, the Norwich-based United Community and Family Services is losing funding, and that means those who need help the most could soon go without.

Without the state funding, United Community and Family Services told Eyewitness News it can longer support its thrift shop.

On top of that, they said they will also be pulling the plug on other programs that help the elderly and the sick.

"People rely on us," said Lori Rygielski, who is a volunteer coordinator at United Community and Family Services.

For the past 14 years or so, Rygielski has worked with United Community and Family Services while heading up its volunteer efforts.

She told Eyewitness News that she sees the people who depend on its Helping Hands Thrift Shop as well as other outreach programs. But come the end of the month, she'll be out of a job.

As a result of the governor's proposed budget, officials with United Community and Family Services said it would lose all of its funding from the Connecticut Department of Social Services for two of its programs.

"The closing of the thrift store exemplifies that we can no longer do it," said Pam Kinder of United Community and Family Services. "Nonprofits can't continue to have the cuts and continue to provide the services we offer."

Officials with United Community and Family Services told Eyewitness News there is someone interested in running the thrift shop independently.

If all goes well, there would be a smooth transition starting next month.

But it will be too late for its volunteers from the Heart Program, which volunteers this year alone provided roughly 600 rides for those who needed to get to medical appointments, cancer treatments and kidney dialysis.

"We had one instance in which a gentleman walked three miles to a storm to get to his medical appointment," Kinder said. "But by the time he got there, he was so sick he had to be transported back to the hospital."

The state funding also supports a "Care Line," where volunteers make calls to those unable to get out of their homes or have no relatives.

In years past, United Community and Family Services could move money from other parts of its organization to help subsidize services that are struggling.

However, officials with the nonprofit said in this economy that's not an option.

"This is going to be a loss for the community," Rygielski said.

Officials at United Community and Family Services said they hope lawmakers will be able to put some money back in when they pass the final budget later this year, but know it might be too tall of a task.

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