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Tears, anguish and concern over President Trump’s proposed budgetary cuts

March 27, 2017 GMT

DERBY-Tears flowed, anguish creased faces and pleas for help filled the room.

They came from people like Amanda Diaz. who works a 40-hour week while taking care of two young children and a sick mother; Crisann Keeney, a former nurse left disabled; Ebony Gattison, who recently graduated from a Griffin Hospital training program and Roger Martin, who said he lost a six figure job and is at the end stages of glaucoma.

And they were directed to Washington, D.C. where President Donald Trump’s proposed budget eliminates such low income assistance programs as the heating subsidy, home weatherization and Meals on Wheels.

“These programs are vital,” Amanda Diaz, a city resident told U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Mayor Anita Dugatto during the congresswoman’s visit to TEAM on Elizabeth Street Monday morning. “People like me don’t just stay home...I work. I have a five-year daughter with asthma and my mom has lupus.”

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Diaz said the minimal heating assistance she received probably kept her daughter and mother from getting sick last winter.

“How does this government think they can just cast people aside,” added Keeney, a disabled former nurse as she wiped tears from her eyes. “They are putting numbers down but we’re talking about humans.”

“You’re voices are going to be critical,” DeLauro told the gathering. “We are only at the beginning of the budget debate. There are programs that ought to be cut. These ought to get 100 percent.”

Trump carried 8 of the 10 municipalities TEAM services including all of the Valley towns.

But for now the President has recommended cutting $3.8 billion from the heating assistance program. Connecticut received $80 million last year which helped nearly 110,000 households.

Closer to home David Morgan, TEAM’s chief executive officer, said 3,312 households in the Valley, Milford, Orange, Bethany and Woodbridge received about $450 which went directly to one of its 103 heating oil vendors.

“Some people think its a blank check, its not,” Morgan explained. “The payment goes directly to one of vendors.”

Morgan said TEAM’s heating oil assistance program is often a gateway to help people deal with other problems like job search, employment training and even housing. In Roger Martin’s case, TEAM was able to help him with housing while he was facing eviction.

DeLauro said the Office of Management and Budget determined the Meals on Wheels program which provides food to the elderly, disabled and shut-ins was not producing effective results.

“Look at the budget (President Trump proposed),” DeLauro said. “It cuts $54 billion from non-defense programs.”

She said the heating program was created by then-President Ronald Reagan and the weatherization program by then-President Gerald Ford, both Republicans.

“That is the difference between then and now,” she said.