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Partial government shutdown impacts nonprofit jobs program

Bayaud Enterprises helps people disabilities work as federal contractors.

DENVER — In a place that's supposed to help people find jobs, Chris O'Connor says right now the shutdown prevents his nonprofit from doing its work.

"What we do here at Bayaud is we provide a lot of job support for people with disabilities or other barriers to employment," O'Connor said.

O'Connor is the director of federal contracts for Bayaud Enterprises. He helped Keith Hendrickson find his job in the warehouse of the U.S. Department of Commerce as a contractor.

"It definitely changed my life," Hendrickson said.

He says he is bipolar and suffers from Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder making it difficult to find work and hold it. 

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"It's difficult to tell your employer that yeah I have a disability," Hendrickson said. "It might affect my job a little and then they don't want to hire you."

Hendrickson says he did not expect the shutdown to last this long.

Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
The US Capitol is seen in Washington, DC, December 17, 2018, as the Deadline for lawmakers to agree on a new spending deal to avert shutdown on Dec 22 approaches.

"I figured it would be about two weeks. Now, that it's going on its third week almost its fourth week, rent's coming up. Mortgage is coming up. People are running out of food. I was running out of food," Hendrickson said. "How are you supposed to get your meds? And, that's a big issue. I had to borrow money to get medication."

Hendrickson says this shutdown is especially hard on his fellow co-workers with special needs.

"A lot of my co-workers, almost every one of them have a disability," Hendrickson said. "We all have different conditions. People have disabilities, of course, mine is more of mental disability. There's physical disabilities and it's hard for everybody."

O'Connor worries that as contractors, his people will not get back pay like regular federal employees are expecting once the shutdown is over.

"I think it's especially risky for contractors not knowing if they're going to be made whole at the end of this or not and what's going to come down the road," O'Connor said.

Bayaud is offering emergency financial assistance and a food bank to its contractors waiting to go back to work.

"I'm stuck at home. I can't go (out) because I have no income," Henrickson said. "It's detrimental when you break routine when you break rituals."