Author Archives: Jessica TenBrink

Colorado Commission for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Presents Susan J Elliott Award to The IC

Angie Tenorio and Billy Allen smile for the camera holding the Susan J Elliott Award for Outstanding Service

Angie Tenorio and Billy Allen smile for the camera holding the Susan J Elliott Award for Outstanding Service

Angie Tenorio, Coordinator for our Deaf & Hard of Hearing Department and Billy Allen, Board Chair for The Independence Center, accepted the Susan J Elliott award for Outstanding Service from the Colorado Commission for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing Thursday evening.

The Independence Center is humbled by this award and so proud that our CEO, Patricia Yeager, our Board of Directors, and our Deaf & Hard of Hearing Department have made services for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing Community a priority at The Independence Center. As we know, our entire community benefits from this, not just those who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Way to go and congratulations! 

Grant Funds Facilitate Ongoing Accessibility in Recreation and Jobs

Reports are in! The 2014 grant cycle of The IC Fund saw nearly $75,000 awarded to five organizations. Funds were given to support community projects in line with The IC Fund goal of increasing independence for people with disabilities.

Amblicab's new wheelchair accessible van

Amblicab’s new wheelchair accessible van purchased with funds granted from The IC Fund.

Community members will benefit from these projects through ongoing accessibility in recreation, transportation and jobs. Additionally, veterans with a disability who are living in a substance abuse treatment facility will now have the dignity of showering in nicely remodeled accessible showers.

A brief description of the impact of each award is described below.



Blue Star Recyclers hard disk drive shredding system

An employee at Blue Star Recyclers operates the new hard disk drive shredding system purchased with grant funds.

Amblicab received $25,000 towards funding their new “Engage and Explore” program. This program aims to regularly transport people with disabilities to fun, recreational activities. Specifically, a wheelchair accessible minivan was purchased and is being used to get people to birthday parties, karaoke, religious services, concerts, and more.


Blue Star Recyclers, an award winning social enterprise that employs staff almost entirely made up of people with disabilities, used their award of $20,200 to purchase a hard disk drive shredding system. The new system allowed for employment of two new staff members with disabilities. This hard disk drive shredding system is the only local solution for data destruction in the Pikes Peak region.

Bear Creek Nature Center Songbird Trail with a woman and three young children walking towards the camera on the trail

The repaired boardwalk of Songbird Trail, a popular trail located at Bear Creek Nature Center.


Friends of El Paso County Nature Centers was awarded $20,000 to repair the boardwalk of the popular Songbird Trail located at the Bear Creek Nature Center. The new Trex planks, railing and signage made the trail easily accessible to wheelchair users, seniors, and visually impaired visitors.



New concrete ramp leading to covered picnic pavilion with small portion of red and black picnic table showing.

Covered picnic pavilion with new wheelchair accessible ramp.

Lake George Community Association used their $3,875 award to install an ADA accessible family picnic pavilion, which has made Lake George Community Park picnic area now accessible to wheelchair users.


The newly remodeled bathroom with accessible shower stall.

Five showers in disrepair at The CVRC’s Health Care for Homeless Veterans and Substance Abuse Treatment Program were fixed and made more accessible for those with physical disabilities.

Colorado Veterans Resource Coalition utilized their $5,000 award, coupled with an additional $10,000 from The Independence Center home modification fund, to fix five showers in disrepair at The CVRC’s Health Care for Homeless Veterans and Substance Abuse Treatment Program. The grant paid for the showers on the first level to be made more accessible for those with physical disabilities.

Press Release: The IC Hiring Spouses as Caregivers Under New Colorado Law

Contact: Michelle West
(719) 476-3143

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, May 17, 2016 – A Colorado law passed in 2014 (HB 14-1358) received approval on January 22, 2016 from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) on changes that now allow spouses to receive reimbursement for providing In Home Support Services (IHSS). Now The Independence Center, an IHSS agency, is hiring spouses as paid caregivers of people with disabilities who otherwise would require a nursing facility level of care.

Colorado has two programs for participant-directed home and community based services (HCBS). HCBS waivers are Medicaid waivers that help people with disabilities of all ages remain independent within their own homes instead of a nursing home. Consumer Directed Attendant Support Services (CDASS) participants employ their own attendants, whereas In-Home Support Services (IHSS) participants use attendants that are employed by an IHSS agency, such as The Independence Center.

Previously, spouses could only be a paid caregiver under the CDASS program. While the CDASS program did pay spouses, it left the coordination up to the consumer and did not provide benefits. Now, spouses can be hired by an IHSS agency to provide all or part of the care.

“We have had people waiting up to two years to be able to become paid caregivers for their spouses. Under CDASS, spouses have always been able to be paid to provide that care. It was unfair that spouses couldn’t do the same thing under IHSS,” said Katey Castilla, director of The Independence Center home health department. “We’re absolutely thrilled that spouses can now be paid as employees and receive all the benefits of employment under IHSS for the care they provide.”

As soon as the CMS approval to Colorado law was processed, The Independence Center hired Kim Molinar as a caregiver for her husband Ralph. She had recently brought him home after an undiagnosed stroke left him quadriplegic. He requires round the clock care.

Molinar readily admits that without the Medicaid financial reimbursement she would still choose to care for Ralph, but that the provisions have made their lives much more financially comfortable. “It’s very rewarding to have your loved one at home. To see him at home, to be able to look over and know that he’s okay at any given time. It’s comforting. It’s a lot of work, though. It’s hard work.”

It was through her connection to The Independence Center that she learned she could now qualify to become a paid caregiver for her husband. “Once we got him home and we had the connection with The Independence Center all the time, The Independence Center notified me when changes to the law went into effect and we were able to start the paperwork immediately,” said Molinar.

As an employee of the IHSS agency, spousal caregivers can receive all the perks and benefits of being an employee. This means a person employed by an agency who is caring for their spouse can receive health and dental insurance, 401(k), and paid time off as offered by the particular employer. In addition to employment benefits for the caregiver spouse, an IHSS agency provides budget oversight and payroll management.

Patricia Yeager, CEO of The Independence Center said, “We are delighted to be able to support persons with disabilities and their spouses in a way that provides some measure of financial security during a very stressful time. In a time where we talk about increasing the quality of life for people with disabilities, this is one very tangible way of doing so.”

Kudos Due For Collaborative Efforts for Accessible Telephone Communications

old trends= outdated legislation; new legislation for accessible telephone communications; Disabled Telephone users Fund will be signed into law May 4, 2016

old trends= outdated legislation; new legislation for accessible telephone communications; Disabled Telephone users Fund will be signed into law May 4, 2016Kudos are due for legislative work that ensures that people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or deaf-blind will have access to accessible telephone communications in coming years.

The Independence Center was instrumental in lobbying for HB 1414, the Disabled Telephone Users Fund, which will be signed into law by the Governor at a signing ceremony on Wednesday, May 4, 2016. In addition, HB 1414 includes new program funds requested by the Colorado Deaf Blind Task Force for additional services for people who are deaf-blind.

Our hats are off to The Independence Center Board of Directors. Our board supported the vision for change to engage in the political process to keep telecommunications accessible across the entire state. We’d like to acknowledge the hard work of our lobbyist, Edie Busam; Senator Pat Steadman and Representative Bob Rankin, bill sponsors; and the entire Joint Budget Committee for working to put a funding structure in place that keeps pace with changing technology and telecommunication trends. The telecom industry also deserves a big “thank you” for working with the bill sponsors in support of the community.

If you’d like to read more about the issue The Independence Center lobbied on, read our issue brief here

Companion Animal Seminar for Landlords

Companion Animals Lunch & Learn Flyer

Free Seminar: Bring your own lunch! Tuesday, May 17th 12 – 1 PM

Come learn about the laws that address companion animals. This seminar will cover the Americans with Disabilities Act, Fair Housing Act and the Colorado Assistance Animal Law. Enjoy your lunch while you learn about how these laws may pertain to situations that arise on property.

Seminar presented by Apartment Association of Southern Colorado (AASC) and The Independence Center. Register at

Seminar will be held at:
The AASC Training Center
545 E. Pikes Peak Ave, Suite 105
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Share with:

Facebook Twitter Google LinkedIn


Sign up for email updates!

Find out what’s going on and how you can get involved by receiving our email updates and quarterly newsletter.

2 Internal: MailChimp email signups right sidebar
Stay informed about programs, advocacy updates and more. Your information will be kept private.



Do you need In-Home Health Care?

You can choose to receive care from our staff or a qualified caregiver of your choosing.

Find out if you qualify.


Meet new people,
Make new friends!

Check out our peer support and recreational groups that you can join!

Click here to find out more.