Independence First, Inc.

Rating: 5 stars   28 reviews

Issues: Civil Rights, Disabilities, Human Services

Location: 540 S. 1st St. Milwaukee WI 53204 USA

Mission: IndependenceFirst is a non-profit agency directed by, and for the benefit of, persons with disabilities. We primarily serve the four county metro Milwaukee area.  Our vision is for full inclusion of people with disabilities in every aspect of our community.  With over 20 programs to benefit independent living and access for people with disabilities, we serve thousands each year.  We’re the community’s FIRST resource when they have questions about disability and access, answering nearly 6,000 information and referral calls each year.  We serve people with all kinds of disability, in all age groups.  Over 51% of our staff, managers and Board have disabilities themselves.
Target demographics: People with disabilities of all kinds, in all age groups.  Family members or other service providers who are interested in independent living for people with disabilities.  Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties primarily, but some statewide programs.
Geographic areas served: Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha Counties primarily, some statewide programs
Programs: Advocacy - individual and Systemic, Assistive Technology Consultation, Independent Living Skills training for youth and adults, Benefits & Employment Counseling, Job Club, Peer Support, Information & Referral, Accessibility Consultation, Counseling & Services for Victims of Abuse who have disabilities, Personal Assistance Services, Attendant Referral, Wheelchair Sports & Adaptive Recreation for Youth and Adults, Youth Leadership Training and Skill Building, and MUCH MORE!

2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

It is intrisically rewarding being a volunteer with Independence First. The organization empowers individuals with disabilities to live with dignity, have control over their lives, and to make decisions. As a volunteer, I have interacted with indviduals who have overcome challenges with grace and dignity. I do not see these individuals any different than myself. They are capable of doing the same project but just perform the project in a different way. Independent First provides people with the disabilities to participate in the communityby assisting with devices that provide them the mobilty to get around the community.

The first day I volunteered, I saw the cohesiveness with the staff and volunteers. I don't know many people who could say that about the company or business they work for. All anyone wants is to be respected and acknowledged for the work they do each day. You can definitely see how much Independence First values the contribution people with disabilities bring to the community.

DMueller

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Rating: 5 stars  

As a board member I am proud to serve this organization. Services that are provided and directions to aid the disabled are outstanding. Staff are sensitive to the needs of all. They go above and beyond their regular duties. We are very fortune to have an organization within our communities with high standards.

Judi Wisla

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

Independence First makes a large differance in the lives of people with disability's and low income, through our CRP we can give individuals a computer at no cost to them.The computer refurbishing program has grown from giving out 25 computers a year to over350 per year in the time I've been 2x a week voulnteer at Independence First in MIlwaukee. When we give a free computer to someone with a disability it has been noted over and over the computer is used by all the family and others in the neighborhood. So one computer helps the grandkids who do not have to go in early to school to use a computer to finish their homework, and the uncle who is looking for work and cannot travel to the unemplyment office due to a lack of money,

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I have been on the board for 12 years and just finished two years as Chairman. In my years of Association with the agency, I have been extremely impressed with the staff's determination to ensure that the work they do supports the tenets of social justice. Individuals coming to independencefirst for help, will always get the support they need and will be treated with respect.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

Wendy & Tracy ROCK!!! The building and accommodations are beautiful and hidden within the walls is a great sense of humor!

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

I live in Texas and for a few years, I have "followed" Independence First via Twitter to keep abreast of IL topics. In the summer of 2010, I reached out to IF with the idea of bringing a CIL to our area. I did not know Lee or any of the staff at IL personally at that time. In the true spirit of peer mentorship, resource development, etc. Lee was very instrumental in helping me refine my ideas and giving me technical assistance. Our CIL was born October, 2010. Since that time, I have visited IF twice, continually learn from Lee and his staff and have recently been the recipient of some "mighty fine" peer mentoring services from his staff related to fiscal management. I'm looking forward to growing our center over the next several years and consider IF to be a flagship CIL that I am proud from which to learn! Thanks! Jackie Pacha, M.A., CRC, Executive Director, Brazos Valley Center for Independent Living.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 5 stars  

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to be a member of the IndependenceFirst Board of Directors for the past four years. IndependenceFirst is an incredible community resource. In the cause of Social Justice they provide daily assistance to members of our community with varying degrees of disability so they can live normal lives, go to work, live in their own homes and participate in all social aspects of life in the Greater Milwaukee Community. We are also a resource for other CIL's (Centers for Independent Living) and they are always looking for opportunities to collaberate with other organizations to make Milwaukee a better place to live!

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

As the director of the National Council on Independent Living, I can tell you without hesitation that Independence First is a true leader in Social Justice in our nation!

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I have had the distinct pleasure of working with IndependenceFirst over the past 5 years. I run a similar organization in San Diego County and consider IndependenceFirst to be the preeminent organization off it's type in the country!

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

As a board member I am impressed with the work the organization does for the people within the community. We cover many facets of needs, for the disabled they are provided with contacts, direction, and support. Staff acts as mentors and family. Until I became a member of the board was I aware of this caring organization. When in need there only one place to go, INDEPENDEENCE FIRST.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

As a board member of this organization for the past 2 years I have been exposed to the fantastic work this group does to help the communities. The work that the employees & volunteers do is outstanding. I don't believe the public understands to what degree and lengths this organization works to provide services to the disabled.
It has been a great learning experience to say the least. More people need to become involved, so that they would understand the complexities of this organization.
This group is #1.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

by meeting persons that have been helped.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Work to increse monies to them

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