Efforts to boost independent living continue PDF Print E-mail

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By Pam Heavens — Executive Director, Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living

With the basketball season heating up, seems that the timing is right to consider pro hockey player Wayne Gretzky’s words: You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.

Early last year, the Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living took a shot at re-establishing a presence in Grundy County. Our leadership carefully considered the possibilities and potential, and knew, like Jeremy Lin for the Knicks, that our time to serve had come.

On behalf of the volunteer Board of Directors and trained staff, I am pleased to say that we are more enthused than ever about having made the choice to open an office in Saratoga Tower in Morris. The opportunities to provide free programs and services to disabled residents — of all types and all ages — are vast in this region, and the will to work our community partners is strong.

We’re grateful to the Grundy County Housing Authority for allowing us to make use of space in Saratoga Tower, and pleased to have its CEO, Brent Newman, as well as one of its residents on our board.

Independent living advocate Debbie Tarrant, who staffs the office on Wednesdays and Fridays, has been diligent in her efforts to serve disabled consumers who call or stop in to learn about us.

How have we helped make a difference? Distributing free amplified telephones to hard of hearing individuals. Offering a legislative internship workshop to several dozen Minooka High School students with disabilities, educating them on the legislative process, the U.S. Constitution and American History.

Partnering with Special Connections, an eager group of parents and disabled youth who will become empowered by the Center’s youth leadership program. Assisting Saratoga Tower residents, as well as numerous seniors and veterans, in applying for energy assistance, benefits, Illinois Care Rx program, Medicare Part D, Circuit Breaker and other supports.

What’s more, we’re making the latest in assistive technology available, including the Public Access Videophone for hearing impaired and speech-disabled persons. Our staff is collaborating with the Community Nutrition Network, providing presentations on amplified telephones, programs and independent living skills. Grundy County Chamber of Commerce, United Way, and its Grundy County Inter-Agency Council — we’re proud members of each. And we’re reaching out to local towns all across the county to share our resources and services.

We understand persons with disabilities are a largely un-served and under-served population in Grundy County, but we’re taking a shot at breaking barriers, and taking a stand to expand disability awareness and rights of the disabled.

To that end, we invite your readers to a community open house on Thursday, March 15 from 5 to 7 p.m. To be held at the Morris office, 1700 Newton Place in Saratoga Tower, the event is open to persons with disabilities of all ages, their families, municipality representatives, human service partners, educators and civic leaders. Come one, come all. Snacks and beverages will be provided, as will the opportunity to get to know the staff, board members and the types of services available to consumers with disabilities.

Copyright © 2012 Morris Daily Herald. All rights reserved.