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LIFT benefit helping people with disabilities

March 17, 2011

LIFT is holding a spaghetti dinner and dance on Saturday, March 25 at the Emporium Firehall. All proceeds will benefit people with disabilities in Elk and surrounding counties. St. Marys Insurance Agency is the event's main sponsor. Pictured, from left to right, are: Traci Meraglia, LIFT independent living coordinator; Hope Weichman, LIFT office/program manager; Cindy Feldbauer, LIFT financial manager; and Jeff Azzato, owner of St. Marys Insurance Agency. Photo submitted

The proposed cuts in the state's budget plan will affect many service agencies across the state. The nonprofit organization Life and Independence for Today (LIFT), which provides services for people with disabilities, is anticipating those cuts and is working to ensure that clients will not lose access to programs and services on which they depend.
Hope Weichman, LIFT's office/program manager, said the organization's upcoming fundraiser is one way they are hoping to alleviate the anticipated cuts in state funding. A spaghetti dinner and dance will be held on Saturday, March 26 at the Emporium Firehall along North Broad Street in Emporium, Cameron County. The dinner will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m., followed by dancing from 8 p.m. to midnight. Music and entertainment will be provided by 2 Guys Drinking Beer. The admission cost of $10 per person which includes the dinner and entertainment, refreshments and a limited amount of beer, and BYOB is also permitted. A 50/50, raffle and auction will also be held. All proceeds of the event will benefit LIFT clients in Elk, Cameron, Clearfield, Jefferson, McKean, and Potter counties.
Weichman said any monies raised will help LIFT continue to assist people with disabilities in areas such as assistive technology, transportation and accessible housing.
"Last year's budget cuts put us (LIFT staff) all down to part-time. Facing additional cuts would mean even further reduction in hours, which doesn't leave us able to appropriately serve our consumers," Weichman said.
She said continued loss of funding will likely eliminate some of the services and programs for people with disabilities provided by LIFT in the organization's six-county service area.
"We always face the possibility of entire programs being cut - our nursing home transition program, and in general, just our ability to go in and effectively serve our consumers. Our peer-based transition support service program could face further cuts," Weichman said. "Limited travel would mean that we can't go to the home of the consumer to help with issues that they have.
"All of our services are provided to them free of charge, and people with disabilities are on a very fixed, minimal income, and with everything else going up except for their income, they really depend on the services we provide for them."

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