Home CoronaVirus

Opinion: Interruption insurance for the employed disabled

Brian M. Hughes (center), Mercer County Executive, cuts the ribbon during the Vaseful Flower and Gifts shop opening ceremony on June 5 at 305 Witherspoon Street in Princeton.

Our nonprofit has operated for over three decades to support people with disabilities in housing and placed them into employment opportunities.

We are a national multi-million-dollar organization employing over 5,000 staff.

We have been paying business interruption insurance for decades. Our lodestar business is The Daily Plan It. We were mandated to temporarily send our employees with disabilities home from our operation.

The Daily Plan It is our entrepreneurial business managed by persons with and without disabilities. We provide the infrastructure for individualized small 25-office concierge complexes occupied by individual local business owners. Tenants are lawyers, architects, realtors, brokers and therapists. Our first Daily Plan It opened in Princeton in 1996. Today we have four complexes and we were in the process of opening a new one in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

We purchase the building through fundraising, tax exempt bonds and as a nonprofit pay limited real estate taxes. The individuals with disabilities connect with small office holders creating phenomenal social capital.

Tenants pay a service fee for the use of a private office; reception, clerical supports; access to a conference room; small dining room; concierge services and we also market virtual support offices. The size of the office and level of service determines the cost of the agreement.

People with disabilities clean the offices; pick up their dry cleaning; even provide graphic and web services through our Creative Services departments including mail, package and food delivery all employing people and without with disabilities.

This innovative paradigm dramatically reduced people with disabilities dependence on government programs. The business enabled people with disabilities to be self-sustaining, pay taxes, rent and enjoy life without reliance on the government. Our establishment has been touted and visited by such prominent leaders as Gov. Thomas Kean, congressional leadership and others.

We have also opened two flower stores (Vaseful) in Princeton and Edison. We run a gift store called “Presents of Mind” in northern New Jersey.

Now, we have had to furlough over 100 people with disabilities making minimum wage or better. They are receiving their $1,200 check from the federal government, but they all would rather be working. One man with severe cerebral palsy said to me, “I don’t want to be dependent on the government again.” His housemate died from COVID-19.

Still, we have been able to deliver flowers and gifts though our Amazon operation, but the state governments have mandated the Daily Plan Its be closed. Berkshire Hathaway is our insurer. I even wrote a pleading email to Warren Buffet with no answer. The word pandemic is not in our policy at all.

We know it would be quixotic to try to litigate. It is very disappointing to me. We would not take advantage and profiteer from this invisible enemy. We would only ask for the help needed to hold us over until we could get back to work.

Robert Stack
President and CEO
Community Options, Inc.

Exit mobile version