Center for Independent Living starts up in Michiana
A small non-profit in Michiana hopes to help the disabled across five counties. There are eight volunteers who aim to reach over 84,000 people.
All of the volunteers, including the group founder Allen Piening are disabled.
Piening says from his experience there are not very many resources available for the physically disabled.
He also adds that he has meet people who become disabled in accidents and then do not know how to lead productive lives after the life-changing incidents.
“They don’t know their rights they don’t know what services are available. They don’t know what is possible and so what do you do? You give up,” says Piening.
Piening wants to change the discouragement he says many in his community feel.
Currently there is no resource center in Michiana for the physically disabled who are seeking support on anything from enhancing everyday life skills to getting a parking pass.
“We have the largest number of people in the united states not being served for a center for independent living,” says Piening.
According to a recent done in 2011 by the Indiana Statewide Independent Living Council, 84,292 people across St. Joseph, Elkhart, Marshall, La Porte and Stark counties are disabled.
“The resources that are available are in northern Indiana because there is no one stop shop are very scattered and fragmented,” says Piening.
Piening along with others at Lakeshore Center for Independent Living plan to cover a vast area from Michigan City to Goshen.
With eight volunteers and only $71 dollars in the bank, donations and community support are needed.
The group does not receive government funding.
Last week in Elkhart Mayor Neese attended a kickoff event for the group.
On Friday Mayor Neese provided a statement saying:
"I am proud to welcome LCIL to our community, and I hope that with their presence, we will see increased opportunities for people of all ages and all disabilities to live in their own homes, obtain a job and participate in community events and activities."
Piening says he is hopeful the new organization will help the physically disabled become independent and productive members of Michiana.
“There are different support levels within the community we have to grow our reputation and hopefully other communities will welcome us too,” says Piening.
To access services or to donate to Lakeshore Center for Independent Living contact Allen Piening at (219) 879 - 5279.
The next fund raiser for Lakeshore Center for Independent Living will be Saturday, June 4th at Four Winds Field. The group has organized a benefit baseball game.
Tickets must be bought through Lakeshore Center for Independent Living. Contact Piening with any questions.