IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WZMQ) – WZMQ recently covered a story about potential closures and funding cuts affecting disability-focused organizations. The Forever Friendship Drop-in Center in Kingsford faces closure due to Northpointe Behavioral Health’s plan to terminate its contract by December.
Currently, there are petitions circulating at various businesses and organizations in the community – in favor of supporting the Forever Friendship drop-in center. The Forever Friendship drop-in center has made substantial cuts during its negotiations for contract renewal, and currently requests a bare minimum of $80,000 per year to continue its operations. Executive Director Talitha Nelson previously expressed frustration over a lack of communication regarding necessary evidence for program support. Trico Opportunities, another agency, is also at risk of some cuts.
Northpointe, in an email, extended Forever Friendship Drop-in center’s contract until 12/31/23, but stressed the need for evidence to continue funding into the new year. Nelson hesitates to sign without clarity.
In a conversation with Trico Opportunities’ Executive Director and the COO, both executives did not want to release any official public statement. They did acknowledge the contract renewal negotiations underway with Northpointe. Trico emphasized differences in funding mechanisms with the two agencies. The Forever Friendship drop-in center utilizes grant funding through its association with Northpointe as the drop-in’s CMH (community mental health organization), whereas Trico and Northpointe bill medicaid as a fee-for-service.
The CLS (community living support) program being cut from Trico Opportunities’ contract renewal (which is still currently being finalized) provides community living support and socialization to disabled individuals, allowing for increased quality of life for those individuals served. While Trico abstained from giving any official statement, executives urged guardians to advocate for choices, and Trico Opportunities emphasized the importance of a positive working relationship with Northpointe.
An executive did inform WZMQ that guardians have been expressing their dissatisfaction with the proposed programming changes, and expect some guardians to attend the upcoming Northpointe board meeting on December 7th.
Community concerns were raised over the potential job-loss impacting at least one employee of the Habitat for Humanity Menominee River ReStore, and Trico assured WZMQ the CLS program being cut from Trico’s contract renewal is not going to affect programming that enable Trico to employ disabled individuals in the community.
Community concerns were raised in light of Trico’s assurances; concerns that those individuals will still be impacted even while still being able to participate in the employment programming, because individuals learn necessary social skills in the CLS program for employability on a job site. WZMQ requested a response from Northpointe Behavioral Health, and so far have not received any response.
The Habitat ReStore did not want to go on camera, but did release an official statement exclusively to WZMQ, stating:
“TRICO makes a huge impact in the community that we live in, and to the many lives of the individuals that take part in the programs that TRICO provides. Through the programs TRICO provides, each individual learns valuable life and social skills. They get to make friends with their peers and learn and develop workplace skills to one day help them find gainful employment. We here at the ReStore have worked together with TRICO for many years and love the relationships we have gotten to make with everyone who has come to work with us here at the store. We are looking forward to continuing this partnership for many years to come!”
The situation with contract negotiations remains fluid, with updates expected after Northpointe’s upcoming board meeting on December 7.
For more information about TRICO Opportunities, visit:
For more information about the Habitat for Humanity ReStore Menominee River, visit: