Valley Life for All column: Center for Independence helps those with disabilities
Special to The Aspen Times
Editor’s note: The Aspen Times, in conjunction with Valley Life For All, continues a monthly series of profiles to increase awareness of the value of people of all abilities.
The Center for Independence (CFI) has four offices on the Western Slope through which it provides invaluable services for those with disabilities of any kind. CFI can be a lifeline to establish disability benefits and independent living.
CFI’s goal is to provide assistance, resources and training so disabled individuals can “live with dignity and their fullest potential,” said Griffin Day, regional program manager at CFI.
A visit to CFI’s website overwhelms with the plethora of services offered for any and all disabilities, as well as youth and senior transition programs; vocational, educational and computer training; and support for older individuals that are blind.
The most requested services at CFI are for housing for independent living as well as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). These goals and processes can be very challenging and nearly impossible without professional help. CFI staff serve as non-attorney legal representatives when navigating the application process.
“There are so many complex factors, and everyone is so individualized in their needs,” Day said. “It’s a very long process, but we consider ourselves experts on this from beginning to end, and beyond.”
Establishing relationships with clients is essential to ensure a successful outcome. CFI partners with people by being mentors, role models and advocates. Coleen Graves, a disability benefits case manager, is such a person. She says it’s her goal to “work with a community that doesn’t often have a voice and needs advocacy and community outreach. CFI can be a last resort, so we often help people who are at their lowest point. We help them with resources and with processes that can be very daunting regarding legal and social security issues, and make sure they’re connecting with every possible resource.”
CFI is a grassroots nonprofit independent living center that’s governed by people with disabilities; more than half of its board of directors have a disability. In 1982, CFI began as Helen Campbell Center for the Blind, founded by five newly blind women who recognized the need for skills and independent living for people with visual impairments. The center now serves 12 counties on the Western Slope.
“We can guarantee we’ll do everything we can to help people get their disability determination and benefits,” Day said. “Give us a call; we’re here to help.”
“Anyone at any time can find themselves at a place of hardship that is life-changing. It is possible to move forward and live your life to the fullest,” Graves said.
CFI can be contacted at 970-718-5155 and http://www.cfigj.org.
Local nonprofit Valley Life for All is working to build inclusive communities where people of all abilities belong and contribute. Find us at http://www.valleylifeforall.org or on Facebook.
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