The Center for Independent Living Options answers our questions.
By Maggie Callaghan
When the Center for Independent Living Options opened in 1977, the founders had no idea of the huge impact and success that they would quickly find. With more than 400 locations around the country, the Center for Independent Living Options works to help the disabled learn skills so that they may live independently.
The Center for Independent Living Options of Cincinnati is the oldest independent living center in Ohio. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the Center for Independent Living Options of Cincinnati has taken the time to reflect on some of its biggest accomplishments as well as look towards the future. Lin Laing, the executive director, has worked for the center for 25 years. Debbie Moorehous serves as the director of events and planning.
Over the past 40 years what have been some of your biggest accomplishments?
Laing: The fact that we have been around for so long is such a great accomplishment. We are a little different than other living centers because we are a grassroots movement. We follow our philosophy and focus to provide five core services: advocacy, skills, peer support, information and transitional services. Since 1996, we have expanded our services for individuals who are homeless and so that has been area we are focusing on more.
Moorehous: We were successful this past year in writing two grants so that we could get additional beds for children. We bought 25 beds and cribs for children in 2016.
How has the organization changed over the past 40 years?
Laing: Some of the other changes that we have had to make are to our programming to better serve the needs of our community. Twenty five years ago, we were teaching people how to cook or ride the bus, but today we are also incorporating other life skills like budgeting and skills for employment like computer skills, building and writing a resume.
Moorehous: Six or seven years ago, we began including more peer support services because many people in our community were dealing with very similar issues, but we discovered that they felt more comfortable putting those feelings into writing.
The Center for Independent Living Options focuses on addressing the community’s needs. How are you able to listen to concerns and get feedback when people’s needs are so individualized and constantly changing?
Laing: The staff in our community plays a large role in that. About 50 percent of our staff have a disability so they bring a personal experience to the table. We always tell them to keep their ear to the ground but because we are such a small community, we have the availability to adjust and change to their needs. We also have the consumer advisory council to share concerns and advice. It is a good opportunity for us to hear about some of the road bumps that they are experiencing.
What are your plans to celebrate your 40th anniversary?
Moorehous: The official anniversary date is July 27 but we are celebrating on July 26. The consumer advisory council is planning a pride march in July to bring awareness to those struggling with disabilities. After the march, we will be hosting a cocktail party for our consumers and supporters on the deck at Washington Park.
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