LifeScape struggles after losing $250,000 in federal funding

Published: Nov. 27, 2017 at 9:15 PM CST
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As we look ahead to 'Giving Tuesday' on November 28, there's a South Dakota organization that needs our help. Over the summer, a change in federal funding took away $250,000 from LifeScape. It's an organization serving individuals living with disabilities through their residential programs, therapy services and much more.

July 1st of 2017, that money disappeared. For the first time, the organization struggles to provide for the ones who count on them.

"July 1st, there was a reinterpretation of the federal laws that regulate that national school lunch program which essentially took away from the funding from the adults we support," Foundation President Jessica Wells said.

This is directly affecting roughly 400 South Dakotans.

"Right now, I'm struggling," Deb Dejong said.

One of them is Deb Dejong who is down $50 each time she gets paid.

"I used to get groceries every month... that stopped. Lost that. Struggling to get by," she said.

Another is Bruce Homan who says it's just not fair.

LifeScape Foundation President Jessica Wells says now, help has to come from other places.

We've made a plea to families, guardians and the community to help meet that need," Wells said.

A typical budget for an individual at LifeScape is about $750.

"It might come from Social Security, maybe they've applied for food stamps. They might live on their own so they pay rent, utilities. Those basic needs, evening meals are covered by those food stamps," Wells said.

After paying monthly bills, now, many are now left with only $9 a month.

That's to take care of snacks, a movie, do anything fun that brings that encirclement to their life," Wells said.

For an organization striving to enrich the lives of those with disabilities, this loss was really tough.

It's been a hard thing to raise money for but it's something we can all relate to. We all like to eat, we have to eat. It's something that everyone from small children to adults understand.. nobody wants anyone to go hungry. That's something we promised, even though there is a gap in funding, we won't let anyone go hungry. We're an organization that figures it out," Wells said.

So far, they have, with the help from the community and generous donors. But this need, she says, will never go away. With the money folks do have left, they have to make a choice.

"Those choices become 'food or maybe I like to go bowling once a month and that's my activity and now I don't get to do that anymore'. What's the quality of life anymore? What's the quality of life when I'm mere sustaining living. It's not the one we want or wish for anyone else," Wells said. My hope is that folks will look at their own life in ways they can give back and take care of the most vulnerable of the population and ask 'how can I help?' whether it's giving time, treasure or sharing talents."

Right now, what LifeScape needs most is personal hygiene items. Products like toothpaste, deodorant, soap and shampoo have a much longer shelf-life and ultimately is what individuals will pass on if it comes down to those items and food.

If you'd like to donate money or items, visit the page in the 'related links' section of this story.