Why Join TRPIL?
Centers for Independent Living (CILs) were mandated by the United States Congress to come into existence as a local organization that was consumer responsive, owned and operated by people with severe disabilities, and providing the core programs of advocacy, peer support, skills training, and information and referral. Some states fund only CILs based on a model of a membership organization to satisfy this requirement of Congress. Many don’t, but they should.
Optimally, the independent living center becomes the meeting point for the disability community; a place to find peer support in dealing with the trials and tribulations of being a person with a severe disability in the local community; a place where the people who are employed are also people who have personally dealt with the same issues because they were also local persons with severe disabilities; a place where people converse and figure out how their local community must change in order to give people with disabilities equal civil rights; a place where people with disabilities determine what they want to do to cause those changes to take place. Some people decide to write letters. Some people decide to request meetings. Some people decide to conduct a street rally. Each does what they feel to be the best method to achieve the goal of improving their own lives in their community.
The result of each contributing to the discussion and each acting on their own beliefs is Empowerment of these same people. With a little luck, it also results in respect of each other’s beliefs.
A membership organization elects its respected members to policy making seats on the board of directors. The board is accountable to the membership for their board seats and for their votes on important issues. All individuals are heard and most of the opinions and interests of the members are accommodated in the policy and practice of the ILC. The leadership of the organization changes periodically in response to the need for new leaders who can achieve or articulate the changing goals of the group. Just like our representatives in Congress, these policy makers must be accountable for the power given to them to make decisions that affect our lives. Any other form of governance is held in great contempt by any citizen of the United States. How long would the citizens of the United States tolerate their elected officials selecting their successors while claiming to represent the citizenry?