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Strong Communities. Better Lives.

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Good morning, Advocate,

Yesterday, Advocates for Ohio's Future highlighted the problem of food insecurity in Ohio. We shared the stories of real people whose voice is often marginalized in public policy matters. At Advocates for Ohio's Future, we think everyone should have enough food to feed their family.

Likewise, people with disabilities should be able to live independently and be involved in society. Kathy Cotman is an advocate for people with disabilities who agrees. She shared her story with us . . .

Kathy has had a neuromuscular condition since childhood that affects all of her muscles. She uses a wheelchair and needs 24-hour assistance with all activities of daily living. With the support of her parents, family, friends, and financial assistance from the Ohio Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation, she was able to attend Kent State University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology.

After college, Kathy worked for The Cleveland Clinic for 25 years. The Ohio Personal Care Assistance (PCA) program allowed her to move from her parents' home to her own home in the community. She paid taxes, volunteered for organizations advocating for the needs of persons with disabilities, and served on church committees. Kathy has always been a contributing member of society. 

In her story, Kathy highlights how each program helped her to live independently and participate in activities in her community. She cautions, "Without these programs, I would be isolated in a nursing home, cut off from the involvement in society which all of us are entitled to."

Watch Kathy tell her story on YouTube.

Advocates for Ohio's Future needs your help to make sure our state lawmakers hear Kathy's story.

Will you take five minutes to call or email state leaders? Every call will make a difference. Tell them:

Proposed state budget cuts to emergency food assistance, behavioral health, long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities, early care & education, and child welfare will have real-life consequences for vulnerable Ohioans, particularly for the nearly 1 in 3 Ohioans who live at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Economic projections for the next two years suggest that life won't be getting any easier for those who have been struggling because of unemployment, wage stagnation, and high fuel and food prices. Please set aside $37 million (which is 20 percent of this year's surplus) to support critical programs for children, families, seniors, and people with disabilities in Ohio.

Thank you for taking time to advocate during this last push for a budget that shores up the safety net in Ohio. Please forward this email to give your friends and colleagues an opportunity to get involved.

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Will Petrik, Outreach Director