Thursday, October 12, 2017

Hello everyone, and welcome to our blog!

The last few weeks (Fall 2017) has been a very busy and exciting time for Integrated Living Opportunities (ILO). We recently launched a new community building initiative (ILO Community Group), have hosted information sessions that were full to capacity, and are busy planning a fall full of ILO fundraisers and ILO Community Group Activities.

In the midst of all of these exciting events and growth, we would like to take the opportunity to bring ILO back to our roots, to write about what ILO is, what we stand for, and how we build supported, integrated and inclusive communities for adults with disabilities.

What is Integrated Living Opportunities?

Integrated Living Opportunities (ILO) is a 501c3, non-profit organization that was founded by Maedi Tanham Carney CFPA, CWIC and the first core group of five participating families – affectionately referred to as the founding families. From the very beginning, the objective of Carney and these families was to bring family groups together to establish integrated, sustainable and inclusive communities for their family members with disabilities (self-advocates) through the use of community partnerships.

ILO’s vision is to provide individuals with disabilities the choice and opportunity to live, work, and play as fully respected members of a community that offers an array of supports and services designed to create and maintain a safe environment. We want this environment to promote independent living, employment, and recreational activities. ILO pledges to accomplish exactly that by working together to establish new cooperative communities and support arrangements that are person-centered, maximize self-direction, and fully support community integration, participation and inclusion.

How did ILO Come to Be?               

ILO as an organization grew from a need expressed in the special needs communities of Washington, D.C. and Maryland for inclusive, community based living options for adults with disabilities.

The story of the creation of ILO begins with ILO Founder, President and CEO Maedi Tanham Carney, CFP®, CWIC. Carney, through her personal experience as a parent of a young adult with special needs and her professional capacity as a special needs planner, noticed that her own desire to have community-based living options for her daughter with special needs was echoed by many other families that she encountered on a daily basis.

Inspired by this need, Carney began to look into the different living options available across the country. After extensive research, she came across Center for Independent Futures, and their Community Living Option residences. Carney visited these residences and experienced first-hand the relationships and community partnerships that Center for Independent Futures was creating for the individuals that lived there. After seeing how successful Center for Independent Futures community building work has been in Illinois and now in other locations across the country, Carney became convinced that this was the perfect option for her daughter, as well as other young adults with disabilities in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

Carney then approached Center for Independent Futures and became the official East Coast representative for their New Futures Initiative program, a training program that teaches family groups how to create communities and community partnerships for individuals with disabilities. From this working relationship grew ILO, a network of parents of young adults with disabilities, seeking to support each other with the goal of creating full lives for our family members in an integrated and inclusive community. (Note: to read the history of ILO in full, please visit the About Us page.)

What Does ILO do?

To begin, it is important to understand that ILO is not a housing or service provider. ILO is a framework that holds all the components of independent, community-based living together.

Under the umbrella of ILO, parents/caregivers will undergo training that allows them to form community partnerships and create communities for their loved ones with special needs; ILO helps to facilitate the support networks necessary to see this community creation through from start to finish. ILO will guide parents through the process of acquiring services and supports necessary for their child to live independently, and provide support and recreational/social activities for their children while they live independently. ILO will also support these individuals after their parent/caregivers are gone, by continuing to facilitate the networks of personal support that each individual brought with them to ILO.

Support ILO

There are many ways to support ILO and our goal to create supported, integrated communities for adults with disabilities. If you wish to begin creating your own supported community, please take a moment to consider joining ILO as a participating family. As a participating family, you will take part in ILO training and be given access to the tools, information, and skills needed to begin creating community from the ground up.

If your family member with disability is not quite ready to begin actively preparing for independent living, consider ILO’s Community Group. Community Group offers the opportunity for self-advocates to participate in ILO’s community and begin creating personal networks of support without committing to the full training. As a part of this unique, all ages members only group, self-advocates and their families are able to access community group social and recreational events, have access to a number of online benefits, such as a members only chat room, resources, and a members only Facebook page, and can take part in Family Workshops. For more information on Community Group, including a list of benefits and how to join, please follow this link.

If you would like to support ILO financially, please consider donating to our GoFundMe page. Our goal is to raise $25,000, and all donations between now and December 15th will be matched by an anonymous donor. Your donation today could help us raise $50,000 – all of which will help create integrated, supported, inclusive communities for adults with disabilities. If you would like to participate in a fundraiser, please join us on November 2nd (2017) for our second annual Beers and Cheers event. Note: for more information on Beers and Cheers, please contact us.

Thanks so much for visiting our blog today – we hope that we have inspired you to join our movement towards supported communities for adults with disabilities. Please contact us with any comments, suggestion, or questions you may have about our organization, our vision and our goals – we would love to hear from you!



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