June 26, 2005

Rhode Island, Nonprofits, & Brain Disorders

It's the job that makes the difference

Few employers understand the difficulty associated with working with a brain disorder. However, places like The Cookie Place and A New Leaf Florist are different. "They are the two nonprofit businesses in Rhode Island that employ people with mental (disorders)." Unfortunately, the state has decided to stop financing these businesses:

There was no real warning that the small piece of the state budget earmarked for The Cookie Place and A New Leaf would be cut. In fact, William Monahan, executive director of The Cookie Place, said that just four months ago, the Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals sent him a contract guaranteeing financing through June 2007. He signed it and sent it back...A few days later, another contract arrived. This one said financing would stop at the end of this month. Monahan said that the $107,000 that would be lost if the cuts are not reversed would mean having to close The Cookie Place in a few months. (Similarly),Fran Belasco, executive director of A New Leaf, said that the potential $130,000 cut in her budget would be devastating.

When the threat of budget cuts became clear, "employees of both businesses and their families started writing letters and calling state officials." These two businesses are known for allowing their employees - those afflicted by a brain disorder - some "downtime". Consider a portion of the letter a woman who suffers from schizoaffective disorder and employed by The Cookie Place has " written to members of the Rhode Island legislature:"

"When I first started work at The Cookie Place, I was struggling day to day with my illness. When I was hired I would ask at the end of my shift if I could return the next day. I knew from the first day that this job was more than a paycheck. One of the best pluses of working at The Cookie Place is that I know that if I have to miss work or be hospitalized that I will have a job when I get better."

The Cookie Place, a bakery, cafe, and caterer has 18 employees who suffer from brain disorders. Similarly, A New Leaf, a florist and garden shop has 20 employees who suffer from brain disorders.

Source: The Providence Journal


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