Republican Trey Hollingsworth, who won Indiana’s Ninth District congressional seat this fall, toured Stone Belt on Wednesday, December 21, to learn more about the agency’s work, clients and needs.
Hollingsworth started the tour in the Moving Forward classroom, where clients served salads made with hydroponic lettuce they grew, talked about their jobs and voiced their concerns. Client Michael Ely explained how his quality of life and personal care rely on direct support professionals and asked Hollingsworth what he could do to help increase wages for them.
Recognizing that low DSP wages is a concern for Stone Belt, its clients and other similar agencies, Hollingsworth said he would be aware of the issue. Inadequate Medicaid funding is handled on the state level with federal approval.
On the tour, Hollingsworth talked with other clients and staff, checked out the workshop and learned about the millions of pieces of medical equipment shipped out of Stone Belt every year.
The tour concluded with Hollingsworth sitting down with CEO Leslie Green, advocate Steve Moberly, and board members Hal Turner, Catherine Gray and Anne Higley, the latter two who have family members receiving supports from Stone Belt.
While he listened to the Stone Belt representatives, Hollingsworth reiterated their concerns, “So I need to keep in mind: pay for DSPs, I’ve heard that before; Medicaid stability; increasing awareness in job community and business community and partnerships with organizations such as this.”
Green added that family supports, like respite services, are important because people with disabilities will be living with family members for longer periods of time.
“I love the dual mission of self-actualization… and, in addition to that, these investments are hugely important, not only to the individuals who get them and to the families who get them, but to society as a whole.” Hollingsworth said. “We can make investments to ensure people live better lives.”
Hollingsworth says he plans to have a small office presence in Washington, D.C., with a larger staff in Jeffersonville, Ind., to better serve Hoosiers.