Hundreds of local families impacted by the longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history are searching for resources.
Ninety-five percent of NASA employees are furloughed and on Thursday NASA Marshall Space Flight Center held an open house to give options and comfort to families not seeing a paycheck.
“Who wants to get back to business?” asked NASA MSFC Director Jody Singer to a large room full of people at First Baptist Church in Huntsville.
That question was met with cheers from over 600 furloughed NASA employees and their families. But as the government shutdown drags on, there’s no telling when that might be.
“The biggest thing is just making sure the kids are taken care of,” said Katie Stokes, standing with her husband and four young children. “Making sure we can buy groceries, medication. She’s got diabetes so she has to have medication so we have to be able to fill things like that.”
For Katie and Derek Stokes, their biggest worry in going without a paycheck to support their children is the one Singer says she keeps hearing: How do we continue to provide for our families?
Financial companies, the unemployment office, the food bank, and other organizations were at the event to help with resources.
“Helping our employees be able to go through these difficult times and to really make their life as normal as possible,” Singer said about the open house.
“I hope to God that this ends soon because I think politicians need to understand we are people and we are hurting through no fault of our own,” said contractor Gary McDougall. “And they should think about us, the people.”
“You know we don’t really go out and do anything,” said Stokes. “We’ve kind of been cooped up at home which is hard for the kids.”
Furloughed workers say they’re preparing for things to get worse. They already didn’t expect the shutdown to go on for so long.
“Somebody’s gonna have to give a little,” Stokes said. “And until that happens nothing’s going to change.”
On Wednesday President Trump signed legislation assuring unpaid, furloughed workers will eventually get back pay. That isn’t the case for contractors.
Click here to go to the website NASA workers can access for answers to more questions.