The story of one nonprofit hit hard by the state budget impasse

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jun 9, 2016 4:28 PM

Photo by Ben Allen/witf

Friendship Community CEO Gwen Schuit testifies in front of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives committee on Thursday.

(Harrisburg) -- The state budget impasse last year hit nonprofits hard. 

But how hard?

Friendship Community in Lancaster County helps more than 150 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

But when the state budget impasse stretched on and on last year, it had to cut services.

For example, one woman was set to live with a family, as part of the nonprofit's Lifesharing program.

She had eaten dinner with them, gone out on some activities, and even slept over, and they were all ecstatic for the big move.

Then, the state stopped paying the nonprofit during the impasse, and it had to delay everything.

CEO Gwen Schuit says tears were flowing during the conversation.

"It created distrust. The enthusiasm was lost. And there was hurt involved and we felt like we let this family down, and they were devastated."

She goes on: "And it went on for eight months, and it was tragic, it was heart-wrenching because there were tears, and the father was very upset. He understood completely, but there was a lot of anger toward the state."

Schuit says her nonprofit lost more than $78,000 because of the impasse.

She says state lawmakers should spend some time with nonprofits that were hurt.

"If you saw what was happening to people and saw the trauma within their family that they're not being provided the services, it was traumatic to see that and know that you couldn't help someone," she says.

She is urging Governor Tom Wolf and legislators to pass a budget on time this year to avoid needlessly hurting more people.

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