By LARRY VAUGHT
The government shutdown is taking a huge financial toll on several friends of mine and that’s why I was so interested when Kentucky coach John Calipari and his wife, Ellen, decided to try and help the approximate 500 federal employees in Lexington who are either not working or are working and not getting paid. My friends have not been paid since Dec. 21 but have continued not only to work, but also work overtime.
On Monday Calipari reached out to UK fans about financially supporting the 500 federal workers as the government shutdown continues.
That’s why I asked him after Tuesday’s win over Mississippi State why he made that request to fans and how his plea had been accepted.
“I wasn’t going to do anything, but I’m afraid this thing is going to keep going, and this is the shutdown. We have about 500 federal workers not being paid in our city. They work at the jail, TSA, agriculture, sheriffs. There’s about 500 people,” Calipari said.
“And what we did, the initial thing was, let’s get them some — where they could go get gas. Folks, it’s literally a grant. They don’t have to pay it back. You know what I asked them to do? Pay it forward when you get paid. Give it to somebody else, and my hope is that they will. ”
Calipari wasn’t pointing blame at anybody over the shutdown but now worries it might go on a lot, lot longer.
“We had earmarked about $250,000 and we kind of blew through it (giving the grants to federal workers),” Calipari said. “Now I’m saying, if we have to do this again, does anybody want to be involved. It’s probably raised about $10,000.”
Calipari made just one plea on social media for others to help. If needed, he said that “Ellen and I will do it again” to provide funding for the workers.
“When you see the people, they are all the people I grew up with, and they don’t deserve to be the brunt of this,” Calipari said. “Some of them were struggling before with child issues and some other things and health issues, and now this hits them, and it’s just — I don’t think it’s fair. So you know, we’re going to continue to do it.”