Budget crisis cutting off Connecticut’s most vulnerable

MERIDEN, Conn (WTNH) — A trip to the gym.

It’s something many folks may take for granted.

Not Mathew Harris and Gabriel Velez.

Gabriel likes to box and Mathew enjoys the workout area at Chapter 126 Sports and Fitness in Bristol.

It’s Connecticut non-profits like MidState Arc, formerly Arc of Meriden-Wallingford that transports guys like Gabriel and Matt to the facility and assists them when they are there.

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“We go out and go to the movies and enjoy recreation activities and those are things we help people like Roz who lives in one of the homes – Roz goes out in the days and she learns how to shop for herself she- learns how to order her own meds – she learns how to open the door to greet people who are coming into her house,” said MidState Arc CEO Pamela Fields.

Thirty years ago, Pamela Fields started out at the non-profit working in the field and driving the van.

Now, Fields is the CEO and facing the agency’s most difficult challenges ever.

“Because there is no budget we’ve received massive cuts in the Governors executive order he has put out,” said Fields.

Its boils down to 87-thousand dollars a month in budget cuts.

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“It equates to about 60 staff positions ….it’s huge,” said Fields.

It means transporting folks like Gabriel and Mathew to the gym, just won’t happen.

It’s removed their access to activities and others.

“It makes me feel like I have the freedom of the things I like to do,” said Velez.

As Fields braces to find a way to keep her programs running, she hopes lawmakers look to the lives that are affected as cuts come down from the state Capitol.

“I would really like to see them start to make good financial decisions and looking to the best way to save the state money instead of just lobbing people off and throwing all of the cuts on the most vulnerable population whether it’s a senior or person with intellectual disabilities – those are the ones being hit,” said Fields.

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