Category Archives: Newsletter Archive

The Independence Times Winter 2018

Winter 2018- ITimes Cover

German Shepherd Finding Success Through Employment - This past December, with the help of The IC’s Employment department, Skylar Sypher began searching for a job. At the time, she wasn’t particularly concerned about what the job was, she just needed something to help pay the bills. For someone who is Deaf and mostly nonverbal, finding meaningful employment can be a difficult prospect. […]
Tim Ashley in his scuba gear Finding Freedom in the Strangest of Places – Tim’s Scuba Adventure - Imagine being weightless, floating effortlessly with your head beneath the water in an environment alien to the one you known. You can hear the bubbles breaking on the surface as you observe your new surroundings. That’s how it was for Tim Ashley in an experience he could only describe as “just liberating”. For most people, […]
Service Dog CEO Corner – New Law to Tackle Fraudulent Service Animals - As CEO of an organization that advocates for and works with people with disabilities on a daily basis, I believe that the new service animal law makes progress in protecting the rights of people with disabilities. Businesses have an opportunity to create safer environments for all parties, now that a new Colorado law passed deters […]
Front of new building The IC Gets a New Building to Address Growth -  Its official, The Independence Center (The IC) is the proud new owner of 711 South Tejon Street. The building, which is directly next door to our main building, will be the new home for our CNA Training Program and our Home Health department. Throughout the last few years, The IC has undergone an incredible growth-spurt, which has brought about […]
Emergency Fire Personnel Emergency Preparedness - The Pikes Peak region is notorious for its unpredictable weather patterns and long winters. It isn’t unheard of to have t-shirt weather one day followed by a blizzard the next. Don’t be caught off guard when inclement weather strikes. The following tips from The Independence Center’s Emergency Preparedness department will help you prepare. Seasonal Tips […]
Photo of a woman using a wheelchair taking photos Photovoice Project – Creating Change through Creativity - In an ambitious new project, The Independence Center’s Jamie Muth hopes to shed light on those things in the daily lives of people with disabilities which promote an accessible and inclusive space, versus those that do not. The idea is for people with disabilities to document through photography and writing, the issues that they encounter […]
El Paso County Receives National Voting Award for Work With The IC - On November 29th, the El Paso County election department received the Clearie award from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, for their work with The Independence Center during the 2016 general election. Before the election, the El Paso County Clerk and Recorders Office in partnership with The IC, provided training to people with disabilities in the […]
IC Employee Receives Award for Employment Accomplishments - In a recent award ceremony at the Colorado State Capital, along with several other recipients, The Independence Center’s Mathew Morris was presented with the Shining Stars award. The Shining Stars award was started this year as a way to recognize individuals and businesses for their employment related accomplishments and inclusive hiring practices related to people […]
Colorado Springs Metro Bus with ad from The IC on the side Spreading Awareness Through Advertising - If you aren’t familiar with The Independence Center (The IC), you may have seen our billboard or bus ads around town and wondered what exactly it is that we do. The Independence Center is a local nonprofit organization that provides traditional and self-directed home health care, independent living, and advocacy services for people with disabilities. […]

Winter 2017 Issue

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People voting Making Voting Easier for People With Disabilities - On November 7th and 8th, The Independence Center made history after opening as the first “Highly Accessible Polling Place” in Colorado Springs. Turnout was better than expected with close to 800 voters showing up to cast their ballots. There were scores of first time voters, including a group of students from the Colorado School for […]
Emma Crawford Coffin Race - Each year, as locals and tourists join together for the annual Emma Crawford Coffin Races in Manitou Springs, people watch the spectacle as outlandishly-themed coffins race down Manitou Avenue. This year, The Independence Center’s coffin racing team chose The Purple People Eater for their theme to show their support for our community. Fringed with purple […]
The IC Provides the Opportunity to Learn from Multiple Sclerosis Ambassador - On October 26th, The Independence Center hosted a discussion on Multiple Sclerosis (MS) with Tom Falconer, Ambassador for the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Falconer, whose wife has MS, has been the primary care giver for his wife for the last 27 years. During Falconer’s presentation, he discussed the symptoms, diagnosis, challenges, and […]
Snowflake Care Giver Tips – Winter Safety - Even though you care for others as a caregiver, there are things you can do to care for yourself that will keep you safe and help to make your job easier. Wintertime can be challenging to everyone, but when you’re regularly driving from location to location to care for consumers, the likelihood of running into […]
The IC Receives National Recognition from FEMA - On September 16th, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representative Carrie Roberts presented The Independence Center with the Outstanding Inclusive Initiative in Emergency Management Award. FEMA, a U.S. government agency best known for its disaster recovery efforts, also focuses on emergency preparedness training. The award was given to The IC for building eighteen Emergency Preparedness Kits […]
The IC Wins OIB Grant to Help People Experiencing Blindness - The Independence Center is pleased to announce that we’ve been awarded a three-year Older Individuals with Blindness (OIB) grant from the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. The OIB grant will enable us to continue helping older individuals experiencing low vision or blindness to remain independently in their homes, and to continue their hobbies or activities. […]
Photo of Patricia Yeager, CEO CEO Corner Winter 2017 - With 2016 in our rearview mirror, I want to take a few words and talk about two very significant events for The IC out of many. These two events impact the people we serve which is why I chose them. First, the success of our CNA school and second, the Veteran in Charge (VIC) program. […]
Life Skills Class Gives - As a group of students in The Independence Center’s Wednesday cooking class prepare for their lesson, instructor Edgar Morales asks them what the first step is when preparing food. In unison, the class enthusiastically responds with “wash your hands.” Then the fun begins. On the menu is baked ham, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese. […]

Vietnam Veteran Pays It Forward in Teller County

Vincent Thoms

Vincent Thoms

Vincent Thoms is a Vietnam veteran who loves the A-frame home he has in Teller County. A widower who lives alone, Vincent requires the use of oxygen for a heart problem that probably started with exposure to Agent Orange during his service in Vietnam. He tires easily and doesn’t have the stamina to handle normal housework. It was starting to look for Vincent like remaining independent in his beloved home was at risk.


“It’s hard to admit you need help. For veterans, it is awful hard.” Thoms says, as he looks thoughtfully around the interior of his home.

After receiving a flyer from the Independence Center, Vincent learned about a new program designed to help veterans remain independent in their own homes as long as possible. The program, called Veteran in Charge, serves eligible veterans who need assistance with bathing, dr

essing, transferring, yardwork, transportation, cooking, medication management, etc. Veteran in Charge is a Veteran Directed – Home and Community Based Services (VD-HCBS) program that supplements, not replaces, Veterans Administration (VA) benefits.

“This program has been key to allowing Vincent to remain right where he wants, in his mountain home as a vital participant within his community,” Ashley Billington, Veteran Coach at the Independence Center, explains. “The best part is Vincent gets to determine how he spends his monthly budget. This is huge because Vincent is the expert on his own needs.”

Veterans of any age with a disability who need assistance to remain independent in their home are encouraged to start with their VA contact for an eligibility assessment. Veterans who are interested in the Veteran in Charge program may contact Ashley Billington at The Independence Center at (719) 476-3170.

CEO Corner

Photo of Patricia Yeager, CEO

Photo of Patricia Yeager, CEOHave you seen a new curb cut or curb ramp in your neighborhood recently? If not, and you have sidewalks, those accessible path of travel tools are coming your way! Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Mayor John Suthers speak at two different events about sidewalks and curb ramps, as the city calls them. Having well-constructed curb ramps and passable (not to mention smooth) sidewalks are both critical to the independence of people with disabilities and seniors who have mobility and/or balance issues.

A small community organizing group, ACT or Access the Community Today had identified a large number of inaccessible sidewalks and curb ramps, and brought those to the attention of The Gazette last year. A front page article featured Sharon King, a wheelchair user, trying to navigate a crumbling curb ramp and potholed street. It appears that the City had not been following the law over the years, which states that when streets are repaved, curb ramps must be added or repaired if existing ramps are in place and need it. Missing curb ramps should be added at intersections where only one or two exist. In short, make the public path of travel usable by all people as roadways are repaved or added.

What a difference a year, a vote, and advocacy makes! With the passage of 2C, the voters of Colorado Springs sent a message to improve our roadways. One of the provisions of 2C was that 45% of the funds were to be used for improvement or installation of sidewalks, curb and curb ramps, as well as gutters. This equals about $25 million a year for the next five years to be spent on these items. Using just 2C funds, Mayor Suthers stated at our ADA Celebration in July, that 114 new curb ramps had been created, 99 curb ramps repaired, and 3 miles of sidewalk laid. In addition, through a “variety of funding sources”, more than $4 million was spent in 2015 that resulted in the construction of more than 500 new or reconstructed ramps and 10 miles of sidewalk.

I sure hope your personal path of travel through this city is getting better! A tip of the hat, the flash of a wheel, and the bark of a guide dog to Mayor Suthers and City staff in every department for their commitment to improving the walkability of our city for everyone, including the disability and senior communities.

Young Professional Aims for Nursing Career After Son Born With Disability

img_9171Amber Turner, 35, originally studied health sciences and received a BA from UCCS. Her goal was to be a high school athletic director. The birth of her son in 2007 set her on a different course. Born with a rare genetic condition called Townes-Brocks syndrome, Cortland required round the clock care. Life began for Cortland in the NICU for 6 weeks, but soon transitioned to having Amber not only as his mother, but as his medical caregiver.

In 2009, Amber became a paid caregiver for her son through a Medicaid waiver program. This allowed her to receive reimbursement for the nursing care she was giving her son. Becoming a paid caregiver required taking CNA classes and getting certified as a CNA.

After working as a CNA caregiver to her son for seven years, Amber began working at The Independence Center as Home Health Assistant. Amber’s ambitions began to shift from health sciences to medical advocacy.

She has a vision to become a medical advocate for parents with children in NICU. She bases this on the need she felt when Cortland was in the NICU. What was particularly difficult for Amber during that time was the fact that she had to navigate Cortland’s medical diagnosis and care, while trying also to simply be Cortland’s mother. This sadly caused her to miss enjoying and recording several early milestones in her son’s life.

Of the chaotic time when Cortland was in NICU she said, “I unfortunately felt like I was on an island alone with Cortland,” and her vision is to change this for anyone else who goes through a similar situation. Through tuition reimbursement at The Independence Center, she plans to pursue her nursing degree as a stepping stone into medical advocacy. Ultimately, her passion for caregiving for her son has given her a new direction for a fulfilling career.


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