I have been a board member for Access Living for almost a year. I have learned a great deal and still have much more to learn, but what I have witnessed thus far is a fully engaged, thoroughly motivated non-profit organization led by an inspirational leader. This is especially noteworthy given the budget stalemate in Illinois, which has resulted in cutbacks of services as well as complete closures of centers for independent living in the state. Despite the financial challenges, Access Living continues to support the independence of people with disabilities.
A recent online article from the Chicago Tribune highlights the appointment of Garland Armstrong, a returning ambassador for ComEd's Energy Force, the country's first energy-efficiency education program designed for and taught by people with disabilities. Energy Force Ambassadors will be attending many events throughout the year to educate Chicagoans about tips to stay energy efficient. Garland will be representing Access Living in its efforts to equip individuals with disabilities with the tools to overcome societal barriers to inclusion by imparting independent living skills, teaching economic self-sufficiency, and enabling people with disabilities to transition to autonomous community living. Garland has been a consumer with Access Living for more than five years. While going to Access Living to receive services, Garland has been very beneficial in helping other people with disabilities gain greater confidence and self-esteem by serving as a positive role model.
Access Living has walked beside us during one of our family's darkest times. My daughter became disabled while attending an inaccessible public school. Their advocacy and knowledge of the system were invaluable. They protected her from being relocated to another school (with less than a month left in the school year).
There is no better advocacy group for the disabled in Chicago and we consider ourselves incredibly lucky to have them on our side.