Four spectacular students aged 14 to 45 were confirmed yesterday at Chapelwood United Methodist Church in an awesome service of sacred flow and celebration. Along with the five leaders who helped them in this quest, the students stood before the congregation to make their verbal and American sign language promises to God and the congregation. After the vows of membership and a reaffirmation of their previous baptisms, the congregation joined in a holy hug with every member gathered toward the confirmands at the altar and touching the shoulder of another person in a spiritual chain. In an impressive and reverent, spirit-filled moment, Reverend Denison, who led the class, then gave a prayer for each student as she recounted the blessings each brings to the body of Christ. There was a holy hug of silence before the congregation broke into thunderous applause, the longest applause I have ever heard in our sanctuary. Everyone there REALLY supports and speaks love to all the persons in our programs of special needs. Do we feel blessed? You bet.
At a reception later, parents were thanked for entrusting their children to the church, and Reverend Denison presented each confirmand with a prayer box with a commemorative card with the cross and flame, symbol of the United Methodist Church. On the back of the card is listed the promises each student made. It was fun with family and friends, the Circle of Friends adult and teen Sunday school class and good sandwiches and a cake with the confirmand’s names on it. I personally ate “Alec.”
Hardly anyone has seen inside his own eye, but with the right equipment someone can. An eye examination led me this week to Dr. Rosa Tang, neuropthamologist at the University of Houston multiple sclerosis eye facility. It may be the only such facility of its kind in the United States. The latest equipment and specialists in using each one plus a staff of thorough doctors and technicians makes the examination amazing. In addition, everyone there was friendly, and wonders of wonder, there were legitimate van parking places close to the ramp. On a bitterly cold day, this was important.
According to Lighthouse for the Blind one in every 20 persons has low vision, an amazing statistic if you don’t know you have low vision. Maybe you think everyone sees those letters as blurred or fragmented, or squiggly (my non-medical term). Also amazing on the internet and elsewhere are the number of assistive aids available, everything from timepieces, telephones, talking books, reading machines to GPS programmed for persons with low vision. Never have the fixes for low vision been more abundant.
The Texas Senate is holding public hearings this week on $16 billion cuts over the next two years to the Health and Human Services agencies and the programs they run.
There is a lot to be radically upset about if you are the parents of or are a person with disability needing a helping hand from already underfunded programs. Of great concern to me is the $342,683,706 (million) CUT from (CBA) Community Based Alternatives Waiver. Then just take your pick from any one of the following that will cause grevious harm to a population that mostly cannot speak up for itself:
$451,866,354 (million) CUT from (HCA) Home & Community Services Waiver
$107,869,131 (million) CUT from (CLASS) Community Living Assistance Supports & Services Waiver
$28,078,989 (million) CUT from Medically Dependent Children’s Programs
$102,091,552 (million) CUT from Deaf, Blind, Multiple Disabilities Programs
Medicaid providers will be taking a 23.7 to 46.3% reduction in funding. It’s difficult to figure the exact amount. Reading the various version of bills takes more brains than I have. This figure is from experts.
I’m feeling the pain of hard working parents who plan ahead and were depending on some of these programs for help. This places them in a terrible position. Many of them are in Austin today for the hearings – brave souls in the bitter weather. Teresa is standing in line to be first on the list to speak. She is very well informed on the history and actions of all these agencies, and the services to her daughter’s community based facility will be drastically cut.
If you can’t go to Austin this week to make your voice heard, please write everyone on the finance committee as well as legislators. Make it personal. Tell your story!
Texas is second to New York in people in state run facilities for mental health and disabilities. It costs $300,000. per person per year to maintain a person there. It costs $20 to $40,000 to maintain a person in a community based setting, but this setting is being cut by millions which means fewer persons served (there is a huge waiting list) and less quality of service within those settings.