WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP -- Waking up and going to work every day may not be that thrilling for some people, but for someone with a disability, having a job can be a rewarding experience.
However, workplaces that employ people with disabilities in Pennsylvania could close because of new state rules.
A new proposal from the Department of Human Services would move funding out of workplaces for people with disabilities. It means thousands of workers with disabilities across the state--and hundreds in Luzerne County--could lose their jobs.
Jimmy Bonchonsky put together some electrical parts Tuesday at Keystone Community Resources on Mundy Street near Wilkes-Barre. He's been working there a few days a week for more than a year and loves it.
"I like being with my friends, to enjoy putting things together. I like to get along with my supervisor."
This facility employs about 75 people, including Courtney Brocious, who runs a cafe in another part of the building.
"The reason why I like it, I like making money and stuff," Brocious said.
But those who run this facility say it could shut down and these workers could lose their jobs because of new rules proposed by the state Department of Human Services. The proposal calls for people living with disabilities to be doing activities more, and working jobs--like in this facility--less.
"That then, by default, makes buildings very difficult to maintain because you could only use them for 25 percent of the day," said Laura Brown-Yadlosky. "(Shutting down) could be a consequence of this policy."
Officials admit the state allows them to pay workers less than most people. The average here is a few dollars under the state minimum of $7.25 an hour. But to so many people here, like Kevin Crouse, who suffers from epilepsy, his family says it's not about the money.
"It would be nicer if they paid them more, but with Kevin, it's just the fact that he's out of the house. He has nothing else that he can do," said Kevin's mother Carrol Crouse.
Keystone Community Resources thinks the reason the state wants its employees to work less and do more activities is because of budget restraints.
The Department of Human Services says the state not closing workshops but that it is complying with federal rules.