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Oct. 10 JRC dinner to feature state sen. Ritchie

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While Jefferson Rehabilitation Center already has experienced more than $1 million in funding cuts in the past few years, officials at the nonprofit know they’re not immune to more.

That is why the agency wants local elected officials and dignitaries to know the breadth of agency programs and services, as JRC Community Relations Manager Michael C. Capone said they serve as advocates for JRC’s sustainability.

“Especially in these tough times with budget cuts, it’s great our local politicians get to know us and what we do and to especially know what those budget cuts would do to us and the people we serve,” he said.

State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, has been learning just that, as she toured facilities on Fort Drum earlier this week to understand how JRC’s four contracts there continue to employ people, both disabled and not.

“It was truly impressive to see how JRC, through its collaboration with Fort Drum, is able to provide not only jobs for individuals, but a way, in a sense, for them to also serve their country,” Mrs. Ritchie said.

On Tuesday, she toured the post’s Central Issuing Facility and the new Recycling Processing Center, and Mr. Capone said she may tour the dining halls and custodial operations at a later date.

All four JRC contracts total nearly $7 million. Those contracts employ 130 people, 98 of whom are disabled.

She also will tour Production Unlimited, JRC’s sheltered workshop on West Main Street.

Mrs. Ritchie is getting to know the agency better as she prepares to be the guest speaker during its annual dinner at 6 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Best Western Carriage House Inn, 300 Washington St.

“I’m honored to be given the opportunity to speak at JRC’s annual membership dinner next month,” she said. “It goes without saying that New York state plays a very significant role in the services JRC provides, and I am hopeful that I will be able to share insights and information that will be helpful to those in attendance.”

Mr. Capone said support and understanding from a local elected official is exactly what JRC needs, to ensure funding stays behind programs and services for the 1,000 families JRC serves. A solid foundation will keep JRC’s 672 staff members employed, he said.

“It’s always good to have allies, or friends, in high places fighting for us,” he said.

Throughout the coming year, he said, JRC will aim to market itself better to the entire community because now there is a need for the public to support the agency as state and federal dollars dwindle.

Meanwhile, the dinner will serve as the annual membership meeting with selection of new officers. Tickets for the buffet dinner are $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers. People can preregister by Tuesday by calling Mr. Capone at 836-1260.

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