Zula’s Coffee House owner Terra Garza is leading an effort to restore funding for Hope Clinic in Ellis County.

The Waxahachie-based entrepreneur is asking residents to stop by her business and sign individual petitions to U.S. Rep. Joe Barton and U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn. Garza’s also soliciting letters that she’ll personally mail to the three lawmakers’ attention.

This week, Hope Clinic CEO Dr. Mackie Owens reported federal funding has been cut for the nonprofit health care provider from $54,000 to $14,000 at the least through the end of May. After that, federal funding remains uncertain for the clinic, which has served Medicare and Medicaid patients the past two years as a federally qualified health center. The clinic’s mission is to serve the uninsured and underinsured residents of Ellis County.

To ensure the petition gets individual attention, Garza is asking people to sign three separate copies, which will allow an original petition to be sent to each of the three congressional members.

She’s hoping for at least 10 letters to be brought in during the next couple of days so she can start mailing those beginning this week. To facilitate the letters, Garza has paper and pens waiting on the tables at her coffee house, which is located at 1804 W. U.S. Highway 287 Business, Waxahachie.

“We want to get those done ASAP. We want to get the ball rolling,” Garza said. “I believe strongly in this.”

The idea to gather petitions and letters came to Garza on Thursday evening after reading an article in the Daily Light about the federal funding being slashed. As lawmakers work on the final budget, she’s hoping enough letters and signatures on the petitions will sway Barton, Cornyn and Hutchison to work toward restoring the funding.

In her comments on the issue the past several weeks, Owens has encouraged people to contact the three members of Congress about the funding.

Garza is promoting the petition and letter-writing effort via her business’ Facebook page – and, as a special incentive, is offering a 20-percent discount on a specialty drink if a person signs the three petition pages (one for each lawmaker). If someone brings in a letter, she’s offering a 20-percent discount on specialty drinks for the remainder of the year. The discount doesn’t apply to regular coffee.

“Whatever we need to do,” she told the Daily Light on Friday. “We’re going to continue to strive to get the funding restored.”

Garza’s concerned especially for the number of children who utilize Hope Clinic, which serves several thousand patients each year – adults and youngsters. The funding cut already has impacted the health care provider, which has had to place on hold plans to hire a full time dentist and a nurse practitioner.

“(Congress is) slashing at this level, but what they’re doing is creating a much higher catastrophe in the long run,” Garza said, noting a lack of primary care ultimately leads to increased visits in the more expensive emergency room setting as well as minor conditions becoming major and or chronic in nature.

“We have to take care of our kids. This is a basic necessity of life,” Garza said. “This isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity, like eating.”

Garza also questions the result if mental health care as provided by Hope Clinic is impacted due to the funding issues.

“You cut that off and crime goes up, everything goes up,” she said, saying she understands the need for some cuts, but feels there are other areas where those cuts could be made that would have less of a negative impact.

Zula’s Coffee House is open from 6:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, with Saturday hours running from 8:30 a.m. until into the evening depending on the entertainment.

On Facebook, search for Zula’s Coffee House.

Contact JoAnn at joann@wninews.com or 469-517-1452.