RAMPAGE 2013 was another successful event! Now, 15 of our Central Florida neighbors have back their independence. Those that received ramps can get in and out of their homes without risking a fall or waiting on a caregiver. This gift is truly life changing for some of our ramp recipients.
One individual, Martin, was optimistic upon hearing he would be receiving a ramp. After several back surgeries, Martin started using a wheelchair to get around more easily. However, without a ramp, he couldn't do some of the things he enjoyed such as being outside and enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. Martin is extremely grateful for everyone involved. In his own words, he simply stated, "I would like to thank you all for giving me the ability to get in and out of my home. Now when we have cook-outs or other outdoor gatherings, I can be involved. The volunteers were amazing, caring and so kind for what they do to help with such a project - for they put in a lot of hard work and smiled the whole time.”
We would like to thank everyone involved in making RAMPAGE a successful community project. This event could not happen without the generosity of our donors, sponsors and volunteers. Thank you all again for your dedication, support and commitment.
Play the video below for some RAMPAGE 2013 memories! Additional pictures can be found on our Facebook page. If you would like to share your story or photos, please email Allison at email@example.com
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Center for Independent Living (CIL) is partnering with Florida State University College of Medicine to offer free classes to help those who wish to end their dependency on tobacco products, as part of the Quit Smoking NOW Program.
Quit Smoking NOW is a six-session smoking cessation program created by ex-smokers for those who are actively trying to quit smoking or the use of tobacco products. Each class is lead by a tobacco treatment specialist, who works with participants in a supportive group setting, and provides information and resources to help participants succeed. Nicotine replacement therapies such as patches, gum and lozenges, to help manage withdrawal symptoms, will be available while supplies last. For more information on the Quit Smoking NOW program, visit www.quitandbefree.org.
New classes start monthly and will begin March 28, 2013. Contact Dennisse Rios at 407-623-1070 or firstname.lastname@example.org for the next available date.
Center for Independent Living is pleased to announce that The Home Depot Foundation awarded a $20,000 grant to support RAMPAGE 2013; CIL’s annual event to build wheelchair accessible ramps for individuals with disabilities.
Entering the 7th year of RAMPAGE, CIL has identified 15 Central Florida residents in need of a ramp, including several veterans. With this grant, Center for Independent Living will be able to purchase materials for this event, including lumber, concrete, and tools needed for ramp construction. Volunteers will help build these ramps that will give the gift of independence.
We are honored to have The Home Depot Foundation as a sponsor for
The Home Depot Foundation serves as the philanthropic arm of The Home Depot and has invested more than $340 million in local communities since being established in 2002. The Foundation manages the company’s grants initiatives and disaster relief activities as well as Team Depot, the associate-led volunteer force. For more information on The Home Depot Foundation, please CLICK HERE
For additional information on RAMPAGE, please contact CIL 407-623-1070
Center for Independent Living was recently awarded a grant through The Able Trust for the employment program. The employment program aims to assist people with disabilities with job searching techniques, interview skills, and resume writing; as well as referral and support to find a position that meets their needs and talents. In addition, CIL employment specialists work within the community to create a network of information and resources for organizations looking to hire staff members.
With this grant, CIL will hire a Business Development Specialist whose goals will be to develop employment opportunities for individuals with a disability, promote job matches beneficial to both employer and program participants, and maintain consistent communication with new employers to promote job retention of clients. The Able Trust allows Center for Independent Living to continue our goals of being an advocate and providing support for people with disabilities, to help them maintain or get back their independence through employment
The Able Trust, also known as The Florida Endowment for Vocational Rehabilitation, is a 501(c)3 public-private partnership foundation established by the Florida Legislature in 1990. Its mission is to create successful job outcomes for people with disabilities, allowing them to become independent, productive and self-supporting members of society. Through The Able Trust’s programs, funds are provided to assist individuals with disabilities in gaining competitive employment. Since its beginnings, The Able Trust has awarded more than $30 million throughout Florida, enabling thousands of Florida citizens with disabilities to entire the workforce each year. For more information about The Able Trust, visit www.abletrust.org.
Recently, the staff at CIL got together for our annual holiday employee luncheon. Each year, everyone takes a break from all their hard work to spend time talking, eating, and relaxing!
As we dined, we found ourselves reflecting on this past year, 2012. We thought about the consumer that got a new job with the help of our employment specialists. We all smiled when we talked about the ramps we built for our neighbors here in Central Florida, and the couple that received an amplified telephone and can now talk to their grandkids more often. There was a sense of pride in the room when we talked about the successes of RAMPAGE and Stroll 'n' Roll. Not only were funds raised, but awareness of the needs for services offered by CIL. We certainly have a lot to be thankful for this year.
CIL recognizes we would not be able to do what we do with out our consumers, community partners, volunteers, and sponsors. As the holiday season is upon us, we'd like to thank all of our Central Florida friends for making CIL a trusted partner in this community.
We look forward to serving you in 2013 !
Veteran's Day is a day to remember all those who have fought for and served the United States of America. For some veterans, it's a day of reflection; a time to think about what has changed in our nation and in themselves. For some, that change is the result of a disability. At times, anyone with a disability can have trouble finding the help they need. Veteran’s face those same challenges, despite the resources available to them. We recently met Cindi and Jeff who were both looking for help, and found it in each other.
Cindi was facing one of the hardest parts of life; saying goodbye to her husband, Gary. Gary had developed a disability from a lesion on his spinal cord. Doctors were able to remove the lesion in 2010, but he never regained full use of his legs. Hard work paid off for Gary at rehab and he was finally able to stand for short periods of time, but walking was still a challenge for him. Cindi and Gary had purchased a top-of-the-line, motorize wheelchair so Gary could get around. When Gary passed, Cindi wanted to honor her husband’s memory by donating the chair. She said of her husband, "He was always so generous. I know this is what he would have wanted." Cindi was in search of a young veteran who could get a lot of use out of the chair, since it had hardly been used. It was important for her to choose a veteran, since her husband was ROTC in college and always whole-heartedly supported the military. Cindi found Center for Independent Living and contacted us for help.
CIL staff immediately contacted several community partners who serve veterans. That is when we learned about Jeff from the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). Jeff served in the United States Army from December 1999 to February 2011. On August 14, 2008 at 2:30 am, Jeff found himself in a fire fight with insurgents, when an explosion happened right next to him. The blast left him unconscious and ruptured his tibial tendon; a tendon that is important in supporting the arch of the foot and helps turn the foot inward during walking. As a result of his injuries, Jeff developed Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) in his left leg. RSD is a painful condition affecting mainly the arms and legs. The condition is characterized by burning, aching pain which is usually intense. As Jeff put it, "it's basically causing my leg to die." Jeff started using a wheelchair for mobility, but a manual chair was becoming uncomfortable and hard to maneuver in certain areas of his home and outdoors. Jeff knew he needed help and reached out to his local MOAA.
With help from CIL and the MOAA, Cindi met and donated the wheelchair to Jeff exactly three months to the day of her husbands passing. Cindi said, "I know he orchestrated this whole thing. He's looking down on us and I know he's happy." This donation not only allowed Cindi to pass on her husband’s good-will, but to honor a veteran; something she and Gary were both very passionate about.
Jeff says the chair has made a huge difference in his life. "The wheelchair I received has given me the freedom and mobility to do many activities that before I was limited to. I can now go in my backyard with my children and play, as well as have both of my girls sitting on my lap and still be able to get around. It has brought us closer together as a family. I will always be thankful for that gift!"
CIL is proud to assist those veterans who have become disabled, whether through service, aging, or other factors. This Veteran’s Day we thank all veterans for their service and we hope you will take a moment to honor a veteran in your life.
Pictured: Cindi, Jeff, and Dan (CIL Staff member). Thank you Cindi and Jeff for sharing your stories!
Recently, CIL Lakeland received a $20,000 grant from the Greater Lakeland Foundation. This grant will provide community based activities for people with disabilities. These activities will provide them the opportunity to network and build new friendships to alleviate loneliness or isolation. In addition, this grant allows for CIL to fill a part-time position in 2013 to oversee these group activities.
To date, CIL has been able to sponsor two activities with funds from this grant. The first event was a trip to the movies to watch The Expendables 2 and Sparkle . The second event hosted a group of about 25, for bowling at the AMF Bowling Alley. Individuals from APD, CIL and Palm Terrace Nursing home participated in both events.
The next activity will be a park outing activity on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Hamburgers and hot dogs will be on the grill and various activities will be played. For more information about these activities, please contact John Hurt at 863-413-2722.
The second annual Stroll 'n' Roll took place on October 13th in Orlando, and 27th in Lakeland. Both Strolls gave us the opportunity to raise funds and awareness for people with disabilities.
Before Stroll 'n' Roll started, participants were enouraged to take team photo's, visit our sponsors, and grab some refreshments. Speakers in Orlando included Winter Park Commissioner Sarah Sprinkle, Integrated Business Group, consumer Jeff Kelly, and Rajesh Durbal; a triple amputee cometitive athlete. Lakeland speakers included Mayor Wiggs, consumer Lucretia Woods, and the American Business Women's Association of Lakeland. Each speaker noted the importance of the programs CIL offers and how support helps out our community, right here in Central Florida.
During the event, teams took turns using a wheelchair to experience what it would be like to use one everyday. Many participants commented that it was a lot harder than it looked! Whether they walked or used a chair, the weather was perfect at both events; we could have not asked for a better day!
Participants and donors raised over $20,000 in Orlando and over $4,000 in Lakeland. We still have some pledges coming in - so we are confident we will break $25,000!
Congratulations to all who fundraised! Thank you sponsors, volunteers, and participants for making this event possible. We look forward to Stroll 'n' Roll 2013!
CIL Orlando was recently awarded a $2,000 grant to support Middle & High School Education Transition for Deaf Students.
This grant is part of the inaugural Darden Restaurants Community Grants Program, and the contribution was made on behalf of Olive Garden Restaurants located at 665 N. Orlando Avenue, and 3675 E. Colonial Drive.
CIL Educational Specialist, Martha Knowles, works to transition Deaf students and prepares them for the next step of their life; high school, college or employment. She usually visits students once a week to teach them necessary skills such as learning to drive, using a bank, understanding paychecks, and different job skills. They also learn how to request a sign language interpreter, and the proper etiquette for using an interpreter. When meeting with younger students in middle school, Martha focuses on social interactions and time management skills.
Quan Nelson started meeting with Martha shortly after his family moved to Orlando from Haiti. He has learned many things that he would not have learned from a regular public school education; including Deaf Culture, use of teletypewriters and videophones. This year he and his classmates will be practicing some real-life skills, including opening and using a bank checking account, developing and following a budget, finding a job and an apartment, and other related skills. He is now eighteen, getting ready to leave school, and he is better prepared for this from his weekly visits with Martha. He also knows where he can go for help when he needs it, which is something many students with hearing loss would not have, if CIL were not able to offer transition services.
Kevin Rosa is one of several students attending Greenwood Lakes Middle School in Seminole County. Since he started learning more about Deaf Culture, he has become more involved in his church; which has deaf/hard of hearing program, and he participates regularly in deaf community social activities. In class, he takes on leadership roles and helps other students. One of his classmates has limited signing skills and Kevin often helps him communicate by interpreting for the other student.
Any new student will also be introduced to the types of assistive technology available through CIL and other agencies, including vibrating alarm clocks, wireless doorbells, and videophones. Parents are contacted during the year so that they are aware of where they can go if they have any questions or concerns about their child's disability. This is possible because CIL is able to offer transition services with the assistance of such grants from Darden Restaurants.
We had an amazing weekend of ramp-building! Both CIL staff and our wonderful volunteer teams were up early Saturday morning, ready to serve all over Central Florida by building wheelchair ramps to our friends in need. The ramps varied from wood to concrete, and small to large. Regardless the size or structure, all were life-changing to those who built and the fortunate ones who received the ramp. Anyone can volunteer, but it takes a special group of people with varying ages, skills, and experience, to take on a project like building a wheelchair ramp for a person they’ve never met. There’s one trait they all share- the desire to make a difference.
Many of the volunteers said that even though building a ramp is hard work, it was a nice change of pace from working indoors doing their daily routine. All agree there’s something meaningful about coming face-to-face with a person who appreciates the work you’re doing. Both parties know this ramp is more than just a ramp, it’s a path to independence. With that said, check out the pictures from various Ramp builds. As you can see, it was a very special day!