By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
About 100 people, including a couple dozen faith leaders, gathered at the MUSCL Senior Wellness Center located on the campus of St. Elizabeth Church in Germantown Feb. 19 to voice concern over proposed Metro Louisville budget cuts.
The Association of Community Ministries hosted the press conference to discuss the plight of Louisville’s most vulnerable and to urge Mayor Greg Fischer and civic leaders to reconsider a “significant” reduction in funding to social services, such as the Association of Community Ministries.
Mayor Fischer released a budget proposal Feb. 7 that would likely lead to significant cuts to cover an expected $65 million budget gap in the next four years.
In the proposed budget, the association would lose half of its funding in 2020 and the remainder in 2023. The association is composed of 15 community ministries throughout Metro Louisville, including Catholic Charities’ Sister Visitor Center. Numerous parishes in the Archdiocese of Louisville are also partner-members of these community ministries.
Clare Wallace, executive director of South Louisville Community Ministries, said the association understands the financial burden on the city but asked leaders to avoid placing the burden on the city’s most vulnerable people.
“As we face city-wide budgetary challenges, we ask decision makers in leadership to remember those living in poverty and changing circumstances. Let us move forward with caution and with a compassion we’ve been so bold to celebrate,” she said.
Wallace noted that the association, which partners with more than 300 churches, serves all of Jefferson County and is the principal distributor of emergency assistance to individuals and families facing a crisis.
Ursuline Sister of Mount St. Joseph Michele Intravia, director of the Sister Visitor Center in West Louisville, said the proposed budget cuts would mean the center would have to turn away people in need.
“This makes a huge impact on the basic needs of clients. I would plead with the mayor and other civic leaders to please be aware of the poor that are being served.”
The Sister Visitor Center serves families in the Portland, Shawnee and Russell neighborhoods.
Gary Copeland, executive director of Shively Area Ministries said losing the funding from Metro government would put “community ministries at risk and have disproportionate impact” on the people they serve.