The Keep the Dream Alive breakfast has become a Trudeau Center tradition after nearly a decade, with attendance and contributions growing each year, and Thursday’s event at the Crowne Plaza was no exception.
But while the center celebrated its growing recognition and success, President and CEO Mary Madden had a sobering message for the more than 550 in attendance about the financial pressures faced by the agency and the growing numbers of patients who have Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Madden noted that $24 million in state cuts to developmental disabilities resulted in a $2 million reduction in state funds for Trudeau.
“For many years we have struggled with level funding or progressive cuts to our programs and for many years we have learned to do more with less – reducing our operational costs, trimming our administrative overhead, retooling our service models and holding the line on staff related expenses,” she said.
Managing the latest cuts hasn’t been easy. Seventeen positions were eliminated through attrition and there have been 16 layoffs, “with more cuts to come as we work to stabilize our position.”
On the positive side, Madden noted that the cuts has “awakened the sleeping giant” prompting families to contact their local officials and bringing more than 3,500 people to the State House in October to create a “Circle of Hope” in their effort to get the funds restored.
Looking ahead, Madden said more than 20 percent of the adults supported in Trudeau residential services have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
“This means that people’s support needs will become far more complex and demanding in a time of diminishing funding. We are committed to not abandoning people to languish in nursing homes for their final days but to find the means to assist them to pass with dignity in their own home.”
She also called the 70 percent of individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder who are 14 years old or younger an, “approaching tsunami of adults who will need specialized services, currently not widely available.”
As has been the practice at the breakfasts, a Trudeau client addressed the audience.
Andrew Palumbo, a member of the Trudeau Tigers team, rose for the occasion, talking about his successes in Special Olympics and about the Trudeau family. Ed Egan, who organized the event, stood with Palumbo at the podium and brought out a giant silver trophy, given to commemorate achievements on the athletics field.
As of yesterday, Egan said the breakfast had raised about $32,000, but it will be hard to know the exact amount for another month or so because of mailed in contributions, pledges and matching grants not counted yet.
The Trudeau story resonated.
“What makes us stand out is the community we create – a community that values and embraces the capabilities and gifts of each of its members. A community that stands by families – through life’s ups and downs – and can be trusted and relied upon always,” said Madden.