Another year under the belt! And what a year it has been….Here are some of the highlights.

Photo of Patricia Yeager, CEO The IC’s Peer Support program really took off with the addition of some great recreational events and funds for people with spinal cord injuries from a grant from the National Council on Independent Living.

We were awarded certification to start providing Home and Community Based Services to Veterans and are just waiting for the VA in Denver to send us referrals. Now vets will be able to access paid caregivers and other services very shortly.

Our advocacy services have had a terrific year. The Mayor added a significant amount of funding for bus transit based on the work of the Transit Coalition. PATH, a new community group that emerged out of the housing study that The IC community organizing department undertook, is grappling with housing for homeless people in Colorado Springs, including advocating for a “Tiny Home” neighborhood that could serve as a transition home for people with disabilities who are homeless. Funding for Centers for Independent Living in Colorado got a big vote of confidence as the State Legislature increased our state funding by little over $4 million dollars annually.

We held our first ADA celebratory luncheon in July at the Hotel Elegante with 300 people in attendance! Richard Devylder, longtime California advocate for persons with disabilities and emergency preparedness, gave a great speech for the gains made so far. To our dismay, Richard unexpectedly passed away a week later. What a gift for all of us that got to hear him speak.

Our Home Health/HCBS division has been struggling to find and hire Certified Nurse Aides (CNAs) which caused us to have to turn away consumers needing those services. So we took a brave, proactive step and bought our own CNA training school! As of December 1 we are the proud owners and operators of what was formerly Front Range Nurse Aide Training Program. We have renamed it The Independence Center CNA School. We are looking forward to including deaf individuals and others in training programs. Not only will we train CNAs, but personal services providers and home makers as well.

Health care is becoming a passion for The IC. This year the Community Health Partnership that serves as the healthcare coordinating agency for persons who receive both Medicaid and Medicare awarded funding to The IC to conduct research on barriers to healthcare that people with disabilities in the Pikes Peak region experience. Look for some announcements next year on ways we will work to remove those barriers.

New staff, new programs, even a few new board members! It’s enough to make my head spin and I look forward to what 2016 will bring. Here’s to a healthy, prosperous and barrier-free New Year for everyone! ~ Patricia Yeager, CEO of The Independence Center