Freedom Valley Disability Enablement, Inc.

Empowering People with Disabilities to Empower Themselves

Detailed History

Freedom Valley Disability Center operates as the Center for Independent Living (CIL) component of Freedom Valley Disability Enablement, Inc.  The goal of this organization is to assist persons with disabilities residing in Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties in the development and achievement of realistic independent living goals, while helping to educate the community through outreach, advocacy and technical assistance about the need to offer options for persons with disabilities. Simply put, its mission is to empower individuals with disabilities to empower themselves through outreach, training and peer interactions.

        Freedom Valley Disability Enablement, Inc. is a private, not-for-profit (501) (c)(3), community-based organization.  While Freedom Valley was not incorporated until September 2, 1992, the Center had served for six years prior to that as the suburban satellite for the CIL in Philadelphia.  Then as today, its objective is two-pronged:  Freedom Valley assists individuals in achieving their goals, while working in the community to remove attitudinal and architectural barriers.

        The Board of Directors of Freedom Valley Disability Enablement, Inc. is composed of consumers, representatives of other service agencies and the private sector.  Fifty-one percent of the Board and staff must be people with disabilities.  The Board establishes the policy direction of the Center and assumes fiscal responsibility.  Additionally, its purpose is to ensure that the Center promotes the philosophy and goals of independent living.  The Board of Freedom Valley made a commitment early on to be aggressive fundraisers.

        The number of staff primarily depends on funding.  Each staff person has his/her own responsibilities toward the provision of Independent Living and other services to the consumers Freedom Valley serves.  When funding constraints reduce staffing, responsibilities are distributed among remaining staff who do excess work.

        Throughout the years, Freedom Valley has held a contract with the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to serve as a Center for Independent Living for Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties, and until 2006, for Bucks County.  Freedom Valley currently responds to about 1,000 Information Requests per year and carries a caseload of approximately 60 active consumers at any given time.  In more affluent times, the CIL has easily provided responses to approximately 1,200 Information Requests and serves 100 or more consumers regularly.

  Here is a time line of Freedom Valley’s Development …

Freedom Valley Disability Enablement, Inc.

Empowering People with Disabilities to Empower Themselves

1986

 

The state made funding available for the expansion of Independent Living services.  The Philadelphia CIL had the choice of expanding to another disability group or reaching out geographically.  It decided to begin meeting the needs of consumers with disabilities in the underserved suburban counties surrounding Philadelphia.  Beginning with a one staff office in Delaware County, Suburban Center West (as Freedom Valley was then known) served approximately fifty consumers, family members, friends and service providers. 

 

 

 

1988

 

A County Coordinator was hired to provide outreach and expand services into Chester County.

 

 

 

1989

 

Responding to consumer needs, a second satellite center, called Suburban Center North, was opened to serve persons with disabilities in Montgomery and Bucks counties.  The satellite office worked together with The Associated Services for the Blind to develop a special skills training and peer support program in the suburbs, called Project Insight, for persons with visual impairments.  This program operated out of Suburban Center North with the assistance of the Montgomery County Association for the Blind.

 

 

 

1991

 

The Suburban Centers developed another pilot program funded by the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) for the purpose of assisting persons with severe disabilities in developing the skills and motivation necessary to further their education and/or vocational training, volunteerism and/or employment.  Utilizing a combination of Independent Living Skills Training, Peer Support and Parent Mentoring, The ACCESS-ABILITY Project, as this unique program was known, served an often overlooked population of American society and responded to the goals of AMERICA 2000 as well.  This project operated through Suburban Center West.

 

 

 

1993

 

It was these two Centers, Suburban Centers West and North, that divested from the Philadelphia CIL to form Freedom Valley Disability Enablement, Inc.  The official date for the separation was January 1, 1993.  The former Suburban Center West in Delaware County served as the administrative office and a satellite was located in Montgomery County.  In the middle 1990’s, the Center consolidated the two offices to serve the consumers and community more efficiently and cost effectively.

 

 

 

1996

 

Freedom Valley developed Peer Mentoring training for consumers in the four suburban counties.  The training was offered at several locations for the convenience of the consumers.  This training was to help Freedom Valley fill the staffing gap by utilizing interested and trained volunteers and to provide consumers with the opportunity for personal growth and professional development.  Freedom Valley continues to use the Mentors on an on-going basis.

 

 

 

2005

 

In the spring of 2005, Freedom Valley was given a special contract by the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to develop a separate CIL in one of its more active counties: Bucks County.  This process was completed in less than the 18 months allowed by the contract.

 

 

 

2006

 

Freedom Valley had recruited and trained a board of directors, interviewed and hired staff, selected and furnished office space, thus establishing a satellite of its own, until its divestiture in the summer of 2006.

 

 

 

Tomorrow

 

Freedom Valley Disability Center looks forward to future growth through additional contracts and the expansion of services.  With greater resources, Freedom Valley could empower even more individuals with disabilities in the region.