The Boston Center for Independent Living (CIL) aims to provide skills and confidence to people with disabilities so they can be in full control of their own lives as well as active members of their communities.
A stimulus award of $392K helped this organization broaden its reach by enabling it to hire outreach workers to target the Haitian and Latino communities.
Recovery Act Impact: Boston Center for Independent Living
"Our mission is to work with people with disabilities and help them improve their quality of life and become more independent," said Martine Cadestin, who was hired to do outreach to the Haitian community for Boston CIL. To target the Haitian community, Cadestin, who did advocacy work in Haiti before coming to Boston nearly two years ago, goes to churches in the Haitian community, stores and on public transportation. She filmed a public service announcement that appears on the Haitian network and is heard on the Haitian radio stations. It's working.
"I have a lot of people calling, she said. So far, Cadestin has 52 clients mostly from the community. She is currently working with a Haitian woman whose daughter has a mental disability and needs housing and to be in a special needs program in school. Cadestin is helping her navigate the school system and assemble the documents she needs for her landlord.
Anna Barahena-Smith was hired to do similar work for Boston CIL in the Latino community. Previously, she did outreach work in public health but Barahena-Smith said her new job is more complicated because there is more stigma attached to disability issues. Barahena-Smith said that many people in the Latino
community didn't even know about the services Boston CIL provides until they saw the articles she placed in Latino newspapers, the fliers she passed out and the public service announcements she placed on the Latino radio station and on the community cable access station.
She is currently working with 48 clients - many of whom are Latino - and providing skills training as well as help with social security, Mass Health and housing. Some of her clients are parents who need advocates in the school system or access to support intervention.
"We are bringing awareness of who we are and what we do," she said. "Latinos weren't even aware that we existed. The stimulus program has made this helpful to the organization and to people with disabilities."
Cadestin agrees. "It's been very helpful for the Haitian community to do the outreach," she said. "I am trying to get the community to get another view of disabilities. The culture sees it as a stigma so they don't address the issue. I really