A coalition made up of service providers working to create one voice

VOICED is helping people with disabilities

BAKERSFIELD - During these tough economic times many local organizations that help people with disabilities, struggle to keep their doors opens and as budgets get tighter, it makes it harder to help those in need.

A coalition made up of service providers are coming together to create one voice they hope can stand up for the estimated thirty percent of people living with disabilities in Kern County.

“We just need more help, more people to understand about this program,” said Tyrone Smith who is attending the weekend workshop.

Agencies are working under the coalition VOICED, which stands for Voices of Integration: Communities Empowering the Disabled.  It hopes to address some of the financial problems most groups face.

"It’s just good information, basic information that we need.  Right now they are going through a lot of budget cuts so; we need a lot of help.  We need a lot more donations, just stuff and helping the disability programs that we have here or are developing," said Smith.

Leaders with VOICED say budget cuts on the state level have a huge impact on services critical to people living with disabilities.  By coming together clients can have more options in the community.

"We are bringing them all together to unify us as one large voice to help advocates on behalf of people with disability with the budget cuts we're experiencing,” said Erika Dixon, event coordinator.

Advocates say groups are experiencing more and more cuts and VOICED hopes to give agencies the tools they need to create a stronger voice to effect change in Sacramento.

"How they are affecting service providers?  How are they affecting their funding and the programs that they have been receiving? and what is coming down the line? and what we can do to gather together and unit as one voice to help advocates on behalf of people with disabilities?” said Dixon on some of the questions they are asking to the group.

Leaders with VOICED say about 4.5 million people have a disability in California.  It plans to hold regular meetings and trainings for all those organizations involved.

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