Budget cuts may limit Options

Options for Independence Executive Director Cheryl Atwood is anxiously waiting to learn whether or not she will have less money to serve the disabled population during the coming fiscal year. On KVNU’s Crosstalk show Wednesday, Atwood said she was told by State Senator Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, not to panic and now she says, fortunately, it looks like Options will come out better financially than she earlier feared.Atwood says she is still very concerned about possible federal budget cuts.”We’re hearing either going back to 2010 funding levels, which isn’t a huge deal but it is still a cut,” Atwood said, “and as much as a 30% cut that we could see which is a big deal. “Another 30% cut would mean at least two more staff that we would lose. It’s not like we can not do a program. We have to cut across the board what we do.”Atwood says because most of her disabled clients have low to moderate incomes, they are extremely concerned about the possibility of increases in food and gasoline taxes.The mission of Options for Independence is to serve the disabled population and Atwood says a disability can take many different forms. She is calling for a fragrance-free environment, saying a growing number of people are suffering from MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities) who have severe reactions to various chemicals in the environment. Atwood says she works closely with one person with one person who suffers with MCS.”It can cause headaches, it can cause allergy-type reactions,” Atwood explained. “Some people have it so bad it can hospitalize them. Most people learn ways to cope. They keep themselves out of situations they know are going to be hard for them. “She says she just doesn’t go shopping because retail outlets are so difficult for her. Going to church is really difficult, so many difficult chemicals going on. People’s fragrances can be really hard for her.”On KVNU’s Crosstalk show Wednesday, Atwood said Options for Independence is willing to start a support group for MCS as it has done for Autism Spectrum Disorders and Macular Degeneration and low vision. For those interested in participating, call 753-5353 for more information.

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