Community resources have always been a very important part of my life. When I was working towards my independence, and now as a person who is living independent it has always been important to know what is available. There have been several times throughout my life that my family and I would be working on things such as health related issues, education, finances, etc. that required resources to help me (us) get through. The question is where are they and how do I contact them. As you know, it isn‘t always easy. If you don’t know where to start with your specific issue then who do you go to for ideas (in other words I needed a resource just to help locate resources!) I have learned through experience both personal as well as professional how to access resources needed. One of my first jobs was working as an Information and Referral Coordinator for a non profit agency. Not only did I need to know what services and resources were available but I needed to know how to locate resources that were not very easy to find.
First, what I usually do is try the phonebook. Many times that may either seem too obvious to people and therefore they don’t look there or they’ve opened up the phonebook and don’t know where to start. I have even worked with highly educated people (dr.‘s etc.) and they have this same issue. For me personally one example is in order for me to stay independent, I need someone to assist me with things around my apartment such as cleaning. If I don’t then it get very disorganized and this CAN and HAS in the past had a big effect on my health. I could look under “housekeepers” or “housecleaners” in the phonebook but they are often times very expensive so I needed to think of something else. When I was in Michigan I went through a local health/private duty agency which provided nursing as well as house cleaning. The way I located them is I thought of a simple word like “health” (as I mentioned it can affect my health) and then after checking the phonebook one thing lead to another until I found what I needed. If you can’t locate the specific thing you are looking for then I would suggest thing of words that have to do with it and try those words.
If you are having a difficult time with paying for rent, then you may not be able to just look under “rental Assistance” or “financial Assistance” in the phonebook. So what do you do? Try places like “non profits“, or “social services”. Even if they are not the specific places that will be able to assist you, often times they will be able to give you some good leads. Many of them answer questions like this daily or know of the appropriate agencies in the community.
Another resource would be a local or state support groups either for your specific disability or something similar to it. Often times support groups not only there to help during difficult times but it is likely that a member of the group has gone through similar issues and has suggestions. CIL'S (Center for Independent Living). The purpose of a CIL is to assist people with becoming and/or staying independent. If you contact the CIL they not only have information on resources but can assist with contacting them. To contact the CIL in your sate you can go online and type in “your state and Centers for independent living” for example “Washington State Centers for Independent Living” and it will take you to the different CIL’s for your state. Another thing to do online is go to the ILRU (Independent Living Research Utilization) website which is http://www.ilru.org/ and then click on ILRU Directory of CIL's/SILC's.
These are just a couple of examples. If you are too embarrassed or want to be cautious about leaving your name then you need to understand that you don’t need to. Many places will ask for it but all you have to do is say that you would prefer not to give any personal information out. That is fine unless you are looking for information to be mailed or emailed or if they need to call you back.
Resources may be even closer than what I have mentioned. One major resource in my life is my family! It hasn't always been easy for me to ask for help, but that is just because I am stubborn! of course that is definitely the one resource that I can trust the most! What are some resources that are in your area?