Regarding "Poor leadership cited in aid agency's woes" (front page, Sept. 24):
As the parents of a special needs' son whose life has been transformed for the better by his association with the Hillsborough Achievement and Resource Centers (HARC), we read José Patiño Girona's insightful investigation of its past management problems with mixed emotions. Our son Alex, who is 24 and autistic, lives in the Knight Group Home and works at Tampa Work Service — both owned and operated by HARC.
We are immeasurably grateful to Barbara Hobbs for her generosity, commitment and vision going forward. We applaud the board, current HARC management and most of all, HARC's dedicated staff for their grace under pressure as the organization moves to ensure its future after six decades of service to the Tampa community.
But let's be clear: HARC's financial problems and the reductions in state funding it has suffered are not unique to HARC or its management. We have watched helplessly as state budget cuts have gutted our son's Medicaid waiver allotment and his jobs program.
The state of Florida can — and must — do better than to marginalize its disabled citizens like our son by cutting the very programs that make them contributing members of society.
We hope that Mahatma Gandhi's famous reminder that "a nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members" will inspire the Tampa community to help us help HARC by supporting its mission and restoring its funding.
Arnie and Phyllis Goldberg