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

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

Independence First representatives have support the Washington County Students with Disabilities and their families for many years. They participate in the activities of the county Transition Action Committee by sharing their expertise with parents and students at Transition Fairs, attending monthly meetings and visiting schools to provide informational presentations. The help they provide is up to date, easy to understand and always helpful.

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

Very Well

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

A lot

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 have seen this agency grow over the years. I've seen the people they've helped, myself and my family being some of them. Over the years they have helped me see people with disabilities very differently. They helped me understand my son could do anything, all he had to do was try! Today my son is 26 years old and VERY independent, very active, and very much wants to be treated as an equal to everyone else. It is thru the programs and services he received from IndependenceFirst that helped me become the MAN he is today. The staff at IndependenceFirst couldn't be better, they are caring, dedicated individuals. I thank IndependenceFirst for a job well done!

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?

2011

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

Independence First is highly regarded as one of the premier organizations in training individuals with disabilities in the area of assistive technology. From simple to complex tools, this organization finds ways to assist youth and adults in leveling the terrain.

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  

We needed a specialized wheelchair for my Mother-in-law and IndependenceFirst was able to accommodate us. The staff was professional, knowledgeable, and caring.

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

A lot

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 have worked with Independence First for over 20 years. They have always been on the cutting edge of ideas on how to work towards independence for people with disabilities. If someone said it couldn't be done, they would do it. From peer support, nursing home transition, heck even bingo, Lee Schulz and his staff have set the bar for the rest of us in the CIL community

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

Working with staff on committees, meeting with their board and receipents of services, attended special events.

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

Fund them so they could train other CIL's on their success.

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Rating: 5 stars  

The advocates at Independence First are savvy about their community, about the gifts people with disabilities can bring to their community, and smart about moving policies and programs forward.

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

I continue to be impressed with the wisdom they bring to their mission.

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

Add to their capacity to open doors and make change

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

Independence First is a leader in the greater Milwaukee community for individuals with disabilities, their families and professionals. I thank them for their vision and commitment!

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

Advocacy and programming for clients.

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

Independence First is a great organization and true leaders!

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

IndependenceFirst puts its money where its mouth is. More than 1/2 of the employees and board are people with disabilities themselves. The Independent Living Skills Coordinators are role models, peer supports and examples to the community as a whole but particularly to others with disabilities and their families. They are proof that people with disabilites CAN and DO succeed when given the opportunity. I've seen with my own eyes peoples' lives changed by the Independent Living philosophy and the living examples set by the staff. Independence First doesn't do FOR...they do WITH!

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

my every day life. I have become an outspoken advocate because of the work that I see IF do daily.

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

Independence First is proactive and changes and adapts well to the needs of the community and the economicand political climates. Those are the best kind of changes to engage in!

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

IndependenceFirst is a true leader in the greater Milwaukee area. The depth of their programs, their commitment to those they serve and their partnerships with other organizations is outstanding.

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

Local, state and national advocacy efforts.

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

No changes.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I am a volunteer for Independence First. I am there a minimum of 2 days a month. If there are special projects that need to be done I always try to fit them in also. It is one of my favorite places to volunteer. They have an excellent volunteer cooridnator who makes it a pleasant place to work. I feel that the services that Independence First provides to their clients are essential to their well being and staying independent. As far as a place to work it really is state of the art for being handicapped accessible. I hope to be able to volunteer there for many years to come. Rachel Jones (racheljones@earthlink.net) 2earthlink.net

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

As a volunteer I have not experienced the results of Independence First. I am grateful that I have not needed their services

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

As a volunteer I am not in a position to make changes. As an observer it looks like things are fine as they are.

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