The Western New York Independent Living Inc. family of agencies (WNYIL), the largest organization of, and for, people with disabilities in Erie County, continues to stay open, utilizing today’s technology.
Concerns raised by the need to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic have changed how it serves the community.
A press release said, “We are running support groups online and we are doing ‘face-to-face meetings,’ but they are now just over the computer or phone, to empower people with disabilities, including established consumers, new referrals, and others that have just discovered us.
“Here are just some of the avenues that have been developed to connect with the community.”
•The drivers of Independence Express van transportation service are delivering food, paperwork and medicine to people with disabilities who are unable to get to and from stores, offices or businesses, free of charge.
•Working from home, peer counselors are providing person-to-person contact, offering relief for the isolation of dozens of individuals related to their homes.
•Independent Living specialists, peer advocates and health home care coordinators are ensuring that people with disabilities continue to receive their benefits; participate in government programs and services; and are given instructions on Independent Living skills such as cooking, cleaning, money management and other aspects of organizing a person’s life.
•The Medicaid application assistance program is working to make sure individuals who are blind, over 65 years old, or disabled, can acquire and/or maintain the appropriate health insurance.
“People with disabilities will not be forgotten during this time when monitoring one’s health is critical.”
•The “Taking Control” consumer-directed personal assistance program has been identified as an “essential program,” meaning people with disabilities in need of in-home health care are receiving the service; their personal assistants (PAs) are reliable and given proper orientation to perform the job; hours and work benefits are managed appropriately; and the PAs are paid on time.
•NY Connects works with state and local offices of the aging or senior services to enable the elderly, persons with disabilities and caregivers to access needed information and services during this time of anxiety.
•The “Addict 2 Addict” programs offer peer counseling, providing online, telephonic support, and sharing lived experiences with individuals who want to rid themselves of substance additions and are struggling with the current fears of the pandemic.
•Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service’s volunteer readers provide current news and information, as well as respite from the hour-by-hour stress of the pandemic, by broadcasting the printed word seven days per week, 24 hours per day to people with a print disability.
•The Renewal Center is a hospital diversion program to which individuals with mental health or substance abuse issues who are in crisis can go, rather than the emergency room. The staff keeps the facility sanitized and living-room-style settings permit appropriate social distances.
“Assisting their brothers and sisters with disabilities to stay safe and healthy while remaining in the community, the men and women of WNYIL are not only overcoming their own functional limitations, but are giving back to the communities in which they live, work and now fight for all of us.”
If you know someone who is in need of any of these services, call WNYIL at 716-836-0822; or visit www.wnyil.org.