The IC Honored by Staff as a 2020 Best Workplace

We are excited to announce that The Independence Center was recently recognized as one of the Gazette’s Best Workplaces for 2020.

This award is special to us because, in order to be eligible, a business must be nominated by its employees. Once nominated, staff members are asked to complete a survey and give feedback on everything from organizational health to engagement to leadership.

Here are just a few of the wonderful comments that helped The IC, with its 300+ employees, secure a place in the Extra-Large Companies category:

  • The Independence Center has an almost “family” feeling, as well as the very excellent “helping of humanity” that comes with a well run non-profit organization.
  • The values and ethics publicly listed are true values and ethics of the company.
  • We have excellent leaders that make sure the employees are part of the decisions that affect our lives.
  • This company works to help other people better their lives and thrive in the community. Also, this company obviously cares about its employees and our well-being.
  • Great people, great work environment, great flexibility and balance, great pay, great benefits.

Thank you to our staff, not only for this award but for making The IC such a great place to work!

If you or someone you know is interested in joining our terrific team, you can find our job openings by clicking the button below. We are currently looking to welcome Certified Nurse Aides (CNAs)Personal Care Attendants, and others to The Independence Center family.

Gazette Best Workplaces 2020 Seal

DVR Public Stakeholder’s Meeting a Welcome Forum

DVRLeadership, staff and consumers of The Independence Center (The IC) as well as community members and DVR vendors attended a public stakeholder’s meeting hosted at The IC regarding the merge of Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) and Division of Vocational Rehab (DVR). CDLE and DVR leadership was well represented at the meeting on October 13. The two agencies have been working since March 2015 to make this merger happen as seamlessly as possible. The meeting was called to solicit public input regarding needs and services.

The Independence Center supports the merger. Patricia Yeager, CEO of The IC describes the goal of the merger as ultimately “a job for all who would need one,” while better using government resources to serve persons with and without disabilities looking for work. Under the new merger, if a person with a disability needs additional services centered around functional limitations, DVR staff can join the CDLE team to provide services for the person in the Workforce System. Previously, persons with disabilities were served completely separate from CDLE. In the case of disability rights, Yeager sees “separate services” as not equal.

Yeager addressed vision with panel members from CDLE and DVR. Yeager’s vision for persons with disabilities to be able to enter through the same door as everyone else at CDLE is a powerful place to start in accessibility and inclusion of DVR clients at CDLE. Ellen Golembek, Executive Director of the Department of Labor and Employment, agreed that CDLE shares that goal and cautioned it will take some time.

Ten public meetings were scheduled for statewide input and the meeting at The Independence Center was 8th of the 10 meetings. CDLE and DVR held the final wrap-up meeting in Denver on October 21 from 5:30 – 7:00 PM at DVR’s new space, 633 17th Street, Suite 1500, Denver, CO 80202. The CDLE and DVR summarized findings with a final report at this meeting.

First Annual Briefing for State Legislators Held at The Independence Center

State Rep. Teri Carver speaks at the First Annual Legislative Breakfast at The Independence Center

State Rep. Teri Carver speaks at the First Annual Legislative Breakfast at The Independence Center

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, September 29, 2015 – The first annual Legislative Breakfast occurred at The Independence Center (The IC) September 28, 2015. Six state legislators attended the briefing where eight specific issues faced by people with disabilities were presented and discussed. Presentations on each issue were given by staff members of The Independence Center. Discussions included input from staff, legislators and The IC board members. The briefing was moderated by Patricia Yeager, CEO of The IC.

Issues on the table were housing, transit, employment, community transitions (referring to transition out of nursing homes into independent living), home modifications/ assistive technology, emergency preparedness, rural issues and home health. Each issue was framed as an opportunity for the legislators to observe that cost savings to the state and independent living for those with disabilities are not mutually exclusive.

“If we can get in the door, if we can get on the bus, if employers will hire us, we will be taxpayers,” Patricia Yeager, CEO stated regarding the need for accessibility in buildings, transportation, and the private employment sector.

The briefing took on a notable tone of dialogue, with legislators often providing comments, asking questions, and providing status updates regarding certain issues. Current issues were raised in this manner such as the status of CDOT Bustang collaboration with El Paso County and the impending merger of the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.


State Sen. Kent Lambert Speaks at the First Annual Legislative Breakfast at The IC

State Sen. Kent Lambert Speaks at the First Annual Legislative Breakfast at The IC

What became apparent during the briefing was the significant interrelationship between the issues, and that solutions to one issue may very well serve as solutions to other issues accordingly. For example, housing is interrelated with community transitions. Because the Pikes Peak region lacks affordable, accessible housing, oftentimes people with disabilities reside unnecessarily in nursing homes, costing the state thousands of dollars each month in Medicaid costs. Working to solve the problem of lack of affordable housing inventory will also help save money in Medicaid dollars to nursing homes.

The breakfast discussion remained largely non-political and incorporated facts as well as anecdotal stories. For instance, Rep. Terri Carver spoke of experience from her early work as a 19-year-old in home health care and Rep. Janak Joshi spoke of his experience as a physician treating patients with transportation needs in rural areas. The officials were clearly engaged, concerned, and expressed gratitude to The IC with an ovation at the conclusion.

State legislature attendees were Sen. Kent Lambert (R), Rep. Terri Carver (R), Rep. Janak Joshi (R), Rep. Pete Lee (D), Rep. Paul Lundeen (R) and Rep. Gordon Klingenshmitt (R).

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People with Disabilities: To Work or Not – The Choice is Yours

A Real-Life Story           
One day in Kansas, a man who had quadriplegia for 30+ years went to the doctor. He took off his clothing for an examination.  When the surgical resident, who had never met the man, came in, he did not see the man’s expensive clothing. All he noticed was the power wheelchair.  The doctor started a conversation by asking.  “So, do you work or are you just disabled?” The doctor did not know he was talking to the director of a state agency — a person who had worked all his life. He saw the disability and lowered his expectations about the man’s ability to work.  His personal bias or perceptions were colored by the myth that people with disabilities can’t work; that they are unable to provide for themselves or contribute to the community.
Adults are expected to work to provide for themselves, their families, their community and others.  Psychologists and philosophers include work or contributions to community as a critical part of what it takes for humans to be happy.  Work gives meaning in the world and contributes to one’s sense of self and self esteem.

Unless you have a disability … then society’s expectations change.
This is another way people with disabilities experience oppression and discrimination.  Society gives disability cash benefits (although not nearly enough to live on) to those who are the most significantly disabled.  While having government cash benefits for the short term may be necessary, Social Security data on disability and employment, examined by the Disability Statistics Center in 1996, showed that for 99.5% of recipients it becomes a long term trap – a poverty trap.

However, other approaches are taking hold. Bryon MacDonald, program director of the California Work Incentives Initiative at the World Institute on Disabilities puts it this way, “People with disabilities are shifting their view of government benefit programs from “early retirement mode” to the concept of ‘employment supports.’ In other words, health and benefit programs, from both the government and the employer, can create a better quality of life … that is clearly a paradigm shift. All the reforms are not in place, but many are.”

The IC Gives to Blue Star Recyclers

Blue Star Recyclers, a local nonprofit that employs and empowers individuals with disabilities. The decision to donate to Blue Star was reached by the board of directors at The Independence Center due in large part by the alignment of missions for both organizations.

“Meaningful jobs for people with disabilities at appropriate wages that provide a real service to the community and the environment is something we want to support,” Patricia Yeager, CEO of The Independence Center said.

Founded in 2009, Blue Star Recyclers is a 501c3 social enterprise based in Colorado Springs with a core mission of recycling electronics and other materials to create local jobs for people with autism and other disabilities. The organization employs 24 individuals (14 of which have disabilities) in Colorado Springs, and has established similar programs in 6 other communities in Colorado and Nebraska that currently employ an additional 30 people with disabilities.

“Our core mission has always been creating an opportunity for meaningful employment at minimum wage or above,” Bill Morris, CEO of Blue Star Recyclers said.  “The people with disabilities we employ have an innate talent for their work, and their work produces revenue for our organization that keeps our doors open, so the people who work here really have a real sense of contribution and value.”

While the funds will be allocated in different ways, Morris stated the main plan for the donation is establishing a much needed electronics testing program.  “We’ve identified that a number of the electronic materials that we receive have reuse potential,” Morris said. “We need a lithium ion battery tester, so we can tell if the battery can be reused. There is also testing equipment for computer memory and a hard drive eraser. If we get (the testing equipment) we can create at least one more job for a person with disabilities.”


Resume Myths Busted

Resume Myths:

  • Grade point average is a top consideration.
  • Résumés should be one page.
  • Achievements should be highlighted in a separate section.
  • Résumés should have your entire work history.
  • Your résumé should be general to increase your chances of getting a job.
  • Paper résumés are enough.
  • Don’t include social media information.
  • White lies are OK.
  • A PDF is better than a Microsoft Word document.
  • A good résumé will get you a job.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff on your résumé. A few grammatical errors or typos are expected.