ELLSWORTH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Organizations like Downeast Horizons hope that a bill in Augusta is passed in order to increase funding to support the need for a larger staff. Residents like Ernest Jackson Dowling, IV is waiting to move into a larger home owned by Downeast Horizons but is unable to do so without the bills passing.
Ernest, 47, was born with a rare condition that left him developmentally disabled. He's also aggressively battling stage 4 colorectal cancer that has spread to other parts of his body. It goes without saying that Ernest needs specialized care.
His father, Jack Dowling, said "In the beginning, it was difficult not understanding what was wrong." When Ernest was born, genetic research was not as advanced as it is now - so trying to figure out what Ernest was suffering from was emotionally taxing.
He said, "we are just so blessed to have Downeast Horizons as the agency that oversees Ernest's care" and that "any cuts whatsoever could directly impact my son's life."
According to the executive director of Downeast Horizons, Anthony Zambrano, the organization is competing with other businesses in the area - such as McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts - that pay their employees more.
He said, "we're doing a number of things to try to improve our opportunity to get people. We have added on bonuses for people who come to us, sign-on bonuses."
In the hopes of getting the bill passed, Ernest's father has this message for lawmakers - "Just visualize if they had a handicapped child, and circumstances were such that they needed help. What kind of a priority would that be in their life? It can change your perspective."