Government Shutdown: Workers, Residents and Organizations in Sault Ste. Marie See Impact

In Northern Michigan one area the federal government has a huge footprint on is Sault Ste. Marie.

The Soo is home to agencies like the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, The Army Corps of Engineers, The U.S. Coast Guard and more.

As a result, there are many federal employees in the area.

“This is our whole community these are people who are our neighbors who are are volunteers, they are our friends.”

While some workers are furloughed, others are still doing their job, like on the Canadian border where officers remain on watch without a paycheck.

Nearby, members of the Coast Guard are in the same boat.

“He’ll go to work throughout the rest of the month and he will work without pay.” Coast Guard Spouse Laurel Arenivar, said.

Arenivar’s husband is a coastie, they live in the Soo with their four children.

“Originally I was nervous, obviously not knowing how we’d make ends meet,” Arenivar said about the beginning of the shutdown.

They have some savings and help from a credit union, but laurel says other coast guard families aren’t as fortunate

“I’ve felt at peace after the initial shock of it, mostly because Soo businesses have come out in support of us,” Arenivar, added.

“I know there are some families who don’t feel that sense of peace, they are filled with a lot of anxiety right now,” she explained.

Though it’s not just federal employees in the Soo, organizations looking to take care of others also rely on government funding and they’re worried about the effects of a historically long shutdown.

“Almost all of our grant funding comes from the federal government,” Betsy Huggett said.

Betsy Huggett is the Executive Director of the Diane Peppler Resource Center. They help sexual assault survivors with funding, now on hold from the Department of Justice.

The center says they haven’t missed a payment yet, but are worried about the future.

“Going further after January, February, March, we will start feeling the pinch of having little to no funding available,” Huggett, explained.

“Depending on how long they decide to have this standoff, we may start having to lay off staff, we may not be able to provide the level of service that we provide now,” Huggett, added.

For more information on the Diane Peppler Resource Center or to donate, click here.

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