The Brazos Valley has gained a valuable community resource for people with disabilities and their families — the Brazos Valley Center for Independent Living (BVCIL), which is established with a five-year, $1.55 million grant from the Rehabilitation Services Administration. The BVCIL is a non-profit organization associated with the Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M University and is part of a network of such centers across the state and nation.
"The Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M is proud to partner with the BVCIL. The Brazos Valley will benefit greatly from the BVCIL as the supports and services provided will be tailored to needs identified by the local community," says Amy Sharp, associate director of the Center on Disability and Development.
"A lot of people don’t understand that the center is not a social service agency — it’s a self-help organization. It’s helping and supporting people to take ownership and develop," says Jackie Pacha, BVCIL executive director.
"One of the misconceptions is that people go to a center for independent living so that the center can do something for them," Pacha adds. "But the center actually empowers people to make themselves and their community better. It’s connecting people to the power of independence."
Centers are built around four core service areas: information and referral; peer support; independent living services; and advocacy. Consumers do not pay a fee for these services.
"Right now, consumers and those who refer consumers to us are focusing on young adults with autism, travel training and transportation," Pacha says.
Located in Bryan, the BVCIL opened in late January. Pacha and her staff have been working hard to get the center up and running, raise community awareness about their services, and attract consumers.
"We have a board of directors and staff made of 51 percent people with disabilities. All of the programs and services we offer are unique to what the consumers in a particular community need or request."
The BVCIL will celebrate its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting event on Wednesday, April 13.
For more information about the center, visit the website.