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.
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.
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,
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.
Wendy & Tracy ROCK!!! The building and accommodations are beautiful and hidden within the walls is a great sense of humor!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
We needed a specialized wheelchair for my Mother-in-law and IndependenceFirst was able to accommodate us. The staff was professional, knowledgeable, and caring.
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
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.
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!
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!
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 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 2earthlink.net
I am an accessibility consultant who has toured the IndependenceFirst facility as well as received disability-related facts, insights and and suggestions. The facility is all around amazing. It is obvious that each and every detail in its construction -- from flooring to the bathrooms to the tables/chairs to the kitchen, etc -- was designed to make everything easier for the disabled visitors and staff. The staff with whom I've interacted have all been extremely friendly and insightful. It is really clear that they are passionate about their advocacy. My previous employer donated computer equipment to IndependenceFirst as well -- a service that many local business participate in.
The staff of Independence First are experts in all types of disability. I have worked with them getting services so that people can move from nursing homes to the community. I have worked with them helping people get transportation they need and working to prevent homelessness.
Independence First is an organization dedicated to helping others help themselves and its robust, vibrant volunteer program expands its reach even further into Milwaukee and surrounding communities. As a Consumer Volunteer, I have directly witnessed the organization's impact: first, by aligning clients with my services and second, by giving additional supports as needed. (For example, I work with a client in need of sight aides. An Independence First representative met with the client to arrange for the tool to be provided.) This is true customer service and compassionate business practice combined.
For close to 30 years I was a Homemaker & Mother until one day my Husband announced He wanted a Divorce. I had learned to be Strong because of a disability I've had since my Childhood, I survived Polio, I learned the Ignorance of people for what they didn't understand because nothing had touched their lives in the same manner but when my Oldest son lost his hearing to Spinal Meningitis my protective side kicked in, but it wasn't until I had a severe Stroke that I became acquainted with Independence First. They took me from I can't to I Can through their vigilance and taught me that I was far more able then I thought that I was. I listened at first to too many saying to me, You can't do that anymore, I made a big mistake & bought into that thinking probably because it was easier & not as much of a challenge, It was easier to buy into passive thinking but I had the opportunity trainwith my Service Dog, Gambler, but I has to travel to California to make that happen. I mustered all my Yes I can's together and decided that Here are people who believe in me ,. Maybe I can do this, and you know what I did do it & I survived. a feeling of Joy came over me, My life hadn't passed me by, I just learned that U had to maybe do things a little different but I could Do it!! What a feeling of Joy & self worth it has given me to have people at Independence First BELIEVE IN ME, FROM THE Independent Living Coordinators TO THE DIRECTOR, they BELIEVED. Sometimes that's all you need, Someone to believe in you, to see your cap[abilities not just your challenges. I have grown immensely because of these people & would be willing to do anything for them.Yes Life is great because I have an army of believers on my side Yes they helped me to refined who I am & show me self Empowerment. Thank You Independence First I'll TAKE A BUS TO YOUR FACILITY ANYTIME EVEN THOUGH IT ONCE FRIGHTENED THE BEJEEBERS OUT OF ME. KEEP UP ALL OF THE Outstanding Work that you do You are Stellar in my book
We take in and refurbish computers from companies and individuals. We give clients or consumers with a disability and low income a chance to have a free computer, mouse, keyboard and monitor.Those are the only two requirements for receiving a computer. Last year we have almost reached 300 given away. We could do more but we are almost entirely staffed by volunteers doing the program work with some support from the paid staff at Independence First.
I have participated at IndependenceFirst for many years. Over those years I have seen tremendous growth in programs, staffing, individuals served and other evidence of a vibrant nonprofit. But the greatest strength of IndependenceFirst is the commitment to mission and values. That commitment transcends its program area, and provides leadership and support for people with disabilities on a statewide, national and international level.
Independence First as President Lee says it's top three in the nation for Center of Independent Living (CIL's) Independence First has amazing services and they want people to get highly involved. They are an organization that always makes sure your on top of your game to helping out people with disabilities. But also they make the staff and volunteers feel very good about themselves when there are often times award ceremonies. My story in how I got involved with independence first was word of mouth. I was at my IEP meeting for my Junior year in high school which was a few years ago. Where a representative from WI FACETS told me about this youth leadership submit that was offered through WI FACETS and also Independence First. I went to this submit and gave a week of my time and I really took a lot out of it. I thought that my whole life in having high functioning autism that if I get social security I could live off of it the rest of my life. Even though in reality I found out I couldn't when everything in life in so expensive when we went through a simulation of having SSI or SSDI and expenses. Then there were some youth leaders through WI FACETS and Independence First in where I got promoted to be on both boards. One being on the Independence First board of directors and the other being through WI FACETS Youth Information Training and Resource Center (YITRC) When I am on the board of Independence First. They really have helped me a lot to be a lot successful today then I was yesterday. Without them I probably wouldn't be where I am at today in helping out people with disabilities but also advocating strongly while I strive for independence as a whole.