About Us - History

PREFACE

In 1980, Curative Workshop Rehabilitation Center (CWRC) applied for and received a grant from the State of Wisconsin to provide independent living services to people with disabilities and those who are older in Northeast Wisconsin.  The initial name was the Independent Living Program (ILP).  The ILP was the fourth Independent Living Center in Wisconsin.  The philosophy of the ILC’s was consumer directed services. 

The following is a chronological list of activities and key elements in the evolution of IL Services provided by Options for Independent Living.

1980 - 1981

  • Staff was hired, including: a Program Director, Peer Counselor, Independent Living Skills Coordinator and Program Secretary.
  • The first ILP Advisory Council was formed and began meeting regularly.
  • Services provided were the core services of all ILC’s: Advocacy (systems & Individual), peer support, IL Skills Training and Information & Referral (I & R). 
  • The service area included the following: Brown, Calumet, Door, Kewaunee, Marinette, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano and Winnebago Counties.
  • As this was a completely new concept in service delivery, staff embarked on extensive outreach activities to County human / social service agencies, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation staff, hospital rehabilitation departments and other similar potential referral Agencies.
  • The primary disability groups served were people with spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy and stroke.
  • There were two immediately identified barriers to independent living. These were the severe lack of affordable, accessible housing alternatives and financial assistance for personal care services.

1985

  • Entered into a collaborative agreed with St. Elizabeth Hospital Rehabilitation Center to open an outreach office within the hospital.  In addition to working with patients on the Rehab Unit, this office would serve the southern portion of Options geographic area
  • The Wisconsin ILC’s, including Options, received added one-time inflation increase in the budget.

1990

  • Received $76,560 from the Department of Health & Family Services (DHFS) to provide services to seven [7] additional counties including: Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Waupaca, Menomonie, Waushara and Green Lake Counties. Marquette County was added as it was unserved by another Center.
  • Hired a full time staff person to conduct a more formalized residential assessment program. Until this time, existing staff provided this service. This was at direct request of County Human Services Community Options Program (COP) for knowledgeable, unbiased assessments for accessibility modifications. 
  • Developed a formal computer assessment service in response to numerous requests from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). 
  • Opened and staffed a Telecommunications Relay Service for Brown and adjacent counties. The service was available Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. 
  • Received a grant from the Department of Health & Family Services for provision of technology services. The grant, Wistech, was for $48,000. Options hired a full-time staff person to provide technology services.

1993

  • Hired a full time person to work from the Fox Valley Office.
  • Started a durable medical equipment loan program. Used equipment such as wheelchair, walkers, tub bench seats and more were accepted by the organization and “loaned” at no charge to uninsured or underinsured individuals in need. This was one of the first loan programs in the State.

1995

  • State and Federal Legislation was passed requiring independent living centers to have a Board of Directors that was 51% people with disabilities. After nine months of negotiations and discussion with the Administration and Board of Curative Rehabilitation Center, it was mutually decided the ILP should separate and form a new non-profit corporation. The ILP Advisory Council became the Board of Directors.  Options for Independent Living was chosen as the new name. Official incorporation date is November 29, 1995. 
  • Base funding increase to $250,000.

1996

  • Options was the first ILC’s to have a Peer Review. The peer review is based on best practices in service provision. In addition, as Options was doing a transition to a freestanding, community based organization, this reviewed provided “consultation’’ on this process.

1998

  • Work Incentives Benefits Counseling was added as a new service as the result of requests from DVR.
  • Options rented office space from Curative since incorporation. The Board decided to look at community alternatives that would give people with disabilities a first-hand experience with accessibility and adaptive equipment. After months of planning and contacting local key community individuals, Options decided to build a “showcase home & office complex” funded completely through a community capital campaign. Work began on two levels: 1) developing a capital campaign fundraising event and, 2) determining what this complex would entail and where it would be located. Construction began on the NWTC site in summer 1998.

1999

  • On May 27, 1999, the organization moved into the new facility and began providing independent living services in a unique and unparalleled manner.  

2000

  • Base funding for the Wisconsin ILC’s increased to $266,064.
  • Added another IL Specialist to staff.  

2001

  • Moved the Fox Valley Satellite Office to the Thompson Community Center. This represented a community location with very easy access and located in a central downtown location.  

2008

  • Dedicated the facility as the David L. Hall Showcase Home & Office Complex in memory of David. The concept for this facility and fundraising to build it was due in large part to David’s efforts.  

2009

  • Options began implementing a Personal Assistance Program for people with physical disabilities.    

2012

  • Completed a renovation of the entire facility to maintain that everything is state-of-the-art. 
  • Added a 2nd Work Incentives Benefit Counselor to meet the increasing number of referrals from DVR.  
  • Constructed an accessible garden designed to meet the accessibility needed of gardeners with all types of disabilities. This was a collaborative effort with the NWTC Horticulture Program and the Green Bay Botanical Gardens.