Program helps those with disabilities, special needs be more self-sufficient
To learn more
For more information about Independent Disability Services, visit them at 2100 E. Milwaukee St., Suite L14, Janesville, or call (608) 754-5552 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
If you go
What: Independent Disability Services Wild Wild West Hoedown
When: 5-9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29.
Where: Kutter Harley-Davidson pavilion, 3223 N. Pontiac Drive, Janesville.
Featured: Food, silent auctions, raffle, live music, bungee bull riding, shooting gallery (memories by Rosenbrook Studios).
Tickets: $40 each or $60 per couple. Call (608) 754-5552 or visit wildwildwesthoedown.com.
JANESVILLE Before getting help from Independent Disability Services, Lori and Steve Gates needed assistance buying personal supplies.
Now, they shop on their own.
Before, Lori needed somebody to go with her to doctor appointments.
Now, Lori goes to most appointments by herself.
Steve, 54, lost his vision when he was 8 and has cognitive disabilities. He works part-time assembling pens at the Industry for the Blind.
Lori, 52, is deaf in her right ear, wears a hearing aid in her left ear and has cerebral palsy and mild cognitive disabilities. She works part-time at McDonald's.
They've been married 12 years and are among those with developmental disabilities who would struggle living independently without drop-in support, said Valerie Mason, coordinator of the Independent Disability Services Independent Living Program.
Mason said staff are helping Lori and Steve solve problems and are offering suggestions so they can come to conclusions on their own.
"Our mission is to improve their quality of life and to make it the best it can be," Mason said.
Most people in the community don't know about Independent Disability Services or what it does, said Lisa Ames, executive director. She's been on a mission since 2005 to spread the word.
The private, nonprofit organization has served adults with developmental disabilities and special needs since 1979. It also has a respite program for families who have children or adults with disabilities and special needs.
Funding comes from the Rock County Long Term Support Program and the Rock County Developmental Disabilities Board.
As a financial supplement, the service on Thursday, Sept. 29, is hosting a fundraiser, Wild Wild West Hoedown, at Kutter Harley-Davidson, Janesville.
Lori and Steve are among about 40 Independent Disability Services clients in Rock County ages 20 to 70, said Valerie Mason, program coordinator.
Cindy Nimz recently discussed money management with Lori at the dining room table in the couple's cozy east-side apartment.
Later, the two women emptied old food from the refrigerator before working on menu planning.
Nimz then helped Steve go through his closet to make a list of clothes he needed.
Nimz visits the Janesville couple three days a week. She said she loves helping people such as Lori and Steve learn to be as independent as possible.
She helps Lori and Steve set goals, work to achieve them and move on to new challenges.
They're making progress.
Steve is working to build his confidence while learning to ride the city bus alone. He said it's taking time to get used to the traffic, but learning to be independent "feels kind of good."
A menu board is helping Lori plan meals with less staff support.
"It helps me reading the words," Lori said as she moved names of food items on the board.