“What would have been the bright in our future — the thing that would carry us through with no problem is funding due from New York State,” stated Judith Burnett Christian, CEO, Lupus Alliance of Upstate New York.
The Lupus Alliance serves 33 counties — that's a little more than half of the state.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes one’s immune system to attack the body's healthy tissues.
Christian said they are a grassroots effort that helps education the community about the disease.
“Lupus is a disease that takes an average of six years to be diagnosed. We help shorten that span,” Christian responded.
Christian says they were promised a state grant of $62,500 owed to them for work done in 2019.
But Christian says she was told it was delayed due to the pandemic.
“Unfortunately that jeopardizes our future entirely as a grassroots organization,” Christian remarked.
Christian said much of their fund raising comes from Lupus walks, which were all canceled because of COVID.
She's now hoping businesses may be able to help.
“We have to call on businesses that could find it in their budgets to help us in anyway they can and there are businesses that have done that for the last 44 years,” Christian replied.
Mark Williamson owns the Bowl-Inn in south Buffalo. He's held bowling fundraisers at his lanes for years to help the Lupus Alliance.
“They've done well with them over the years and we've helped them raise thousands of dollars,” Williamson said.
But with the virus, Williamson has not been able to help. His long-time friend has the auto-immune disease.
“It prevents them from being socially active and doing all the things they love to do,” Williamson explained. “It’s a life-long debilitation.”
Christine said she has done everything to cut expenses, even shutting down a Main Street office in downtown Buffalo.
"We have cut every expense including staffing — we don't pay rent any longer,” Christian said.
She said she's hoping the Lupus Alliance is not force to shut down at the end of this month.
"Christmas miracle or whatever — I’m still trying to find every way we can get by,” remarked Christian.
We reach out to Senator Tim Kennedy's office. A spokesperson did confirm that some grants are being delayed due to the pandemic.