Originally shared via the Times Union Opinion section. 

It is difficult right now for our community to focus on anything other than the pandemic. It is a scary and emotional time and I know, for many of us, the fear has been consuming. Still, it is important that we don’t lose sight of the people and families in our community living with disabilities. We need to remember them now, more than ever.

Autism and other developmental disabilities don’t go away and people don’t grow out of them. Times may change, but the needs of families remain and, regardless of what is happening around us, these families need our help.

Agencies like Wildwood Programs support families with disabilities. We make it possible for families to stay intact, for parents to be able to have careers and for their loved ones to maximize their independence. Our more than 750 employees contribute to the local economy when they rent apartments, purchase groceries and buy school supplies for their kids. We, and agencies like us, are a significant part of the local economy.

The pandemic has left New York with a large debt. That debt will trickle down to agencies like Wildwood if there is not a federal bailout. That is not a simple budgetary line item. It will have a profound effect on people’s lives. If supports and services cannot survive, that means families, who are already up against significant challenges, will be in crisis.

I know we all are facing a difficult time. We cannot forget our neighbors and the families in our own communities who have so much to lose. We need to let our elected officials know just how important this is.

Lou Deepe

COO/Incoming CEO
Wildwood Programs

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