You may not be Vicente Padilla, but you can still help

Few are unaffected by the tightening economic squeeze, but the ones feeling the crunch the most are the nonprofit programs struggling to stay afloat during this financial mess.

Like many local programs, dreaded budget cuts are becoming a reality and the Kitsap County Health District is no different. These cuts, however, will have a rippling effect throughout the community as many low-income families are served by these services which are headed straight for the chopping block.

The programs set to be eliminated, should the proposed 2009 budget be accepted by the health district board on Dec. 2, include the El Centro de la Familia outreach program, which served 350 Spanish-speaking families last year. Also being eliminated are staffing positions with First Steps, which helps low-income pregnant women get the health and social services they need to be healthy moms and have healthy babies; and Welcome Home Baby, a newborn home visit service for all Kitsap families.

The local community will undoubtedly be impacted by these cuts. El Centro de la Familia is no stranger to the budget chopping block. The program was almost eliminated last year, but was saved in the nick of time by Texas Rangers pitcher Vicente Padilla who contributed a sizable donation. It would be great if there were more Vicente Padillas in this world, but unfortunately there’s not. While there may not be baseball pitchers with extra money around every corner ready and waiting to rescue public programs headed toward extinction, Kitsap County residents have been known to take care of their own, but is it too late to save these programs? Some would argue they only help a very small population of the county, but without these needed services the people affected by the elimination of these programs are going to have to turn somewhere for help. It is a continuous cycle of need. For the sake of those who utilize the services of El Centro, it is our hope they are welcomed with open arms by an organization still able to help them. It’s an uncertain time right now, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t help out there for those who need it the most. Everyone is strapped for cash these days, but every little bit helps.

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