Local News

Budget Crunch Closes 'Windows of Opportunities' For Five Workers

Posted July 12, 2000

— A "window" is closing for many disabled people in Cumberland County. It just might be their only chance at leading a life with challenges and opportunities.

Michael Arnold, 45, is autistic and mentally challenged. Besides a few simple replies, Michael cannot even hold a conversation by himself.

"Not until society started working with him could you see a difference because he was more or less there," says Phyllis Arnold, Michael's mother.

For the past 26 years, he worked at the Windows of Opportunities, a center for disabled adults to learn vocational training.

Last month, Phyllis found out Michael's days at Windows were over. The center cannot afford to keep Michael and four other clients on because of budget cuts.

Even though according to payroll statements, Phyllis said Windows of Opportunities paid Michael $131 in wages last year.

Phyllis says it is not the money she wants for her son, it is the chance to live and work in a normal environment -- a chance Michael and other adults like him may never get again.

"Once they are put out, they can't go out and fill out an application and say I want another job. They have nowhere," Phyllis says.

Michael's last day on the job will be Friday.

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