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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Real faces of the health-budget cuts



Muir steered clear of politics. He just talked about his own life and about the time, a few years ago, that Catholic Charities planned to stop running three Boca Raton-area group homes for 18 developmentally disabled kids.

“I was very upset about that and wanted them to stay in business. And they said, ‘OK, if you think you can handle it.’ So approximately in my 65th year, I acquired 18 more dependents,” Muir said.

And he found out that, despite his elderly age, there were parents like him who are far older:

“I am relatively one of the kids in the group. Most of our parents tend to be in their 70s or into their 80s. And they have fought their whole lives to take care of these kids and to get them into some level of security. And at this point, our lives really revolve around – we’re doing walk-a-thons, we’re baking pies, we’re doing everything we can to keep some level of quality of life for these kids. And that used to be for the quality of life. But just in the last series of cuts, we’re doing that just to maintain basic services at this point. A number of our kids don’t have full services through the week. We have had to go out and raise community money to get it to keep them in the day programs they’re involved in, to keep them in their homes at this point.”

 Muir, whose group homes are affiliated with Sunrise Group, said he’s “absolutely stunned at the way that they are able to maintain the services on the margins that they have. And every year, they slice the onion just a little bit thinner, and a little bit thinner. And it’s that old story: I’ve been doing so much with so little that now I’ve got to do it all with nothing. And that’s kind of where we are at this point. We have cut it. Cut it. Cut it.

“Now just a final point: I’m here, which means my wife is at home. And if my son has to go to the bathroom, if he has to go to the shower -- anything that’s involved in that. This lady is taking care of that kid by herself. And I do that because that saves a bed for a parent who is ten years older than I am who has got another kid who needs that level of help and support. So I know the claims that you folks must have and you must get torn in so many directions. But this is about as tough as it gets. Thank you very much.”

-- Marc Caputo

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:29pm]


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