The following letter, reproduced with permission, was sent by Juanita T. James, president and CEO of the Fairfield County Community Foundation, to her representatives in Congress. If you would like to contact your representatives about how the shutdown is affecting philanthropy, the COF Public Policy team is available to help. Contact Brian Horn for more information.
Dear Richard, Chris & Jim,
As Fairfield County’s representatives in Congress, it is important for you to understand and convey to your colleagues how the federal government shutdown is impacting the lives of residents in your communities and the nonprofits that serve them.
We often refer to our nonprofit sector as the community “safety net,” stepping in to help those most in need when and where government cannot. Even before the shutdown, however, this safety net of services has been struggling to do more with less.
On shoestring budgets and with limited resources, nonprofits in Fairfield County have been teaching more low-income students, serving more meals to families, providing more housing, more healthcare and more critical services to a growing number of our citizens. But the shutdown threatens this already weakened system and has significantly impacted residents across the county.
Head Start, a program serving more than 6,000 children in Connecticut, closed abruptly for several days, causing major disruptions in the lives of families least able to afford it. Parents took unpaid time off to care for their children, putting their jobs at risk and drastically cutting their weekly earnings. For a family of four earning less than $30,000 a year this is a significant challenge.
Connecticut’s Department of Economic Development and the University of Connecticut were charging forward to launch Small Business Development Centers across the state to help drive economic recovery by supporting and strengthening our region’s entrepreneurs. Now, the $1.2 million federal grant is stalled and the project in limbo at a time when we desperately need job growth.
Coastal Recovery and Planning has mostly come to a halt as the federal funds and federal employees working to restore our region following Superstorm Sandy and help our coastal town governments plan for future storms are no longer available. These delays may very well mean the next major storm will cause costly damage which could have been averted.
These are just some of the local impacts of the federal shutdown. There are many more impacting thousands of residents.
Please continue to work to bring a resolution to this impasse.
Juanita T. James
President & CEO