Trump’s proposed budget could cut funding to under-served South Floridians

MIAMI (WSVN) - Community arts and meal programs for the under-resourced in South Florida may suffer painful cuts due to President Donald Trump’s budget proposal.

The proposed budget would make changes to some South Florida programs that benefit the underprivileged, and those behind these projects are saying this can be detrimental to those affected.

Programs like Miami Music Project, Inc. could potentially lose funding they need to keep its music program accessible to underprivileged children in Miami-Dade after Trump’s proposal called for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts.

“That would be basically devastating to our organization,” said Anna Pietraszko, executive director of Miami Music Project, “absolutely devastating.”

She said that the impact programs like these in Liberty City have on the community are beyond just playing music. “These are kids that normally would not have such a close access to music, to the arts, we give them all of that, free of charge,” Pietraszko said. “We give them instruments. They are able to play concerts all around the city.”

It’s federal funding that keeps the program alive, providing free lessons and instruments to more than 500 students throughout Miami-Dade.

“It’s great. It’s amazing,” said second-grade violinist Derrick Bryant.

His mother, Dominique Smith, said the impact goes beyond the music. “He comes home and he’s like, ‘Mom, I want to practice, I want to practice,’ and I just watch his growth,” she said. “It’s something he doesn’t have to do, but he loves the responsibility.”

Pietraszko explained that the children can now dream to do and be better. “They’re really seeing that there is something beyond their neighborhoods, beyond their communities, and they can really believe they can do anything in life,” she said.

The funding also provides access to the under-resourced elderly living in South Florida with programs like Meals on Wheels.

Mark Adler, the executive director for Meals on Wheels South Florida, said the proposed federal cuts come at a time when the need has been greater than ever. “We currently have 809 people on our waiting list for home-delivered meals,” Adler said.

The White House budget director said that although funding Meals on Wheels looks good, it doesn’t mean they can continue with it.

“We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good and great,” said White House budget director Mick Mulvaney. “Meals on Wheels sounds great. That’s a state decision to fund that portion, to take the federal money and give it to the states and say, ‘Look, we want to give you money for programs that don’t work.’ I can’t defend that anymore.”

According to the program’s South Florida director, however, this is a matter of survival for the thousands of seniors that are in need in just Broward County alone. “A lot of the seniors are choosing whether to keep the lights on, pay for medication, and our food – if we’re able to serve them – is their lifeline,” Adler said.

There are still many questions that remain unanswered, but these community programs are hoping Congress will recognize the importance they have in South Florida.

“Our kids hear ‘no’ every single day,” Pietraszko said. “We do not want to say ‘no’ to them. We want to give children more and more opportunity.”

Thursday evening, the children who are part of Miami Music Project will perform within their Liberty City neighborhood at the Charles R. Drew K-8 Center and hope they continue to do so.

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