stylized graphic newsletter masthead Fall 2021
The Beauty of Universal Design Adds to the Splendor of the Passerine Pavilion
Editor's Blog Post: It's a Million Little Things
Independence, Inc. Fall Fundraiser
Equipment Loan Bank - a Small Provision with Big Impact
National Disability Employment Awareness Month
Family Caregivers Month | Independence, Inc. FMS Services
Welcome New Team Members!
Fall Service Highlights
Universal Design - Accessibility for All - was High Priority as Vision Emerged for the Passerine Pavilion, Wells Overlook Park
Don't miss the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Thursday October 14, 5:30 pm!
Panoramic view of the Passerine Pavilion and surrounding landscape at Douglas County's Wells Overlook park
When you begin to shape a design vision around the idea that a structure is "taking flight, about ready to leap off the edge of a hill" (Chad Kraus, associate professor of architecture and founder of the School of Architecture & Design’s Dirt Works Studio), you can't help but imagine great things are about to happen. And with the backing of architecture students who pressed on with the question "how can we get this experience to everyone?" the reality of a fully accessible viewing platform at one of the best public vistas in Douglas County began to take shape.
The Passerine Pavilion, (pictured above) whose namesake comes from the birds that take flight from the sides of prairie hills, was surely a labor of love for Douglas County communities, for people of all ages and abilities and for the visitors who come to take in the breathtaking panoramic views of Lawrence, KU and the golden hills and valleys that Douglas County is known for. The Pavilion, completed earlier this year, was a collaborative effort that began just before the height of the COVID pandemic in January of 2021, with funding from a Land and Water Conservation Grant from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, and was spearheaded by Douglas County resident Ken Lassman, whose grandfather William H. Wells donated the land for the park in 1971. Read more in an article from the Kansas Alumni Magazine.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Thursday, October 14 at 5:30 pm, the Community is invited to a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to celebrate the completion of the Passerine Pavilion - located at the Northern end of Wells Overlook Park. Read more about the Passerine Pavilion and the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in a news release on the Douglas County Kansas website.
KU Architecture students are now working on the second part of the project – The Polaris Pavilion - an accessible picnic shelter at the southern end of the park. The picnic shelter is expected to be finished by November 2021 (pictured right).
Construction workers laying the foundation for an accessible picnic shelter at Wells Overlook Park in Douglas County Kansas
Editors Blog Post: "It's a Million Little Things"
Self reflection is a good thing. It continually questions and explores - who are we? What are we doing and what is our focus and our purpose? Knowing who and what we are - and aren't - is critical to our identity not only as individuals but as an organization and our success in service delivery.
As an organization, Independence, Inc. may not always be found in the headlines. We aren't a source for emergency services. We’re not a large organization with the human resource capacity to deploy in crisis situations. We aren’t an army who will ride in, swoop up and save. That’s not our place nor our mission. And that's not what the Independent Living Philosophy - which we as Center for Independent Living hold fast to - calls for. Thankfully, there are many other crisis services that do this in various capacities for an array of needs and crises. Who and what we are however, is the constant, capable, purposeful and often unseen undercurrent, flowing faithfully and steadfastly through the disability community, where programs and services are utilized and support is offered day after day in a million little ways.
collage of 3 photos two women leaning down petting a dog one male in a wheelchair cooking at his stove one young female sitting at a computer using an adaptive keyboard
Throughout the pandemic of the past nearly two years, we have remained at work daily to offer continuity in service provision – never leaving our consumers and community without critical services like transportation, information and referral, access to durable medical equipment, advocates to assist with self-directed independent living goals, and the list goes on.
It’s a million little things that make the difference and make us who we are. Every consumer is unique, every day is different. It’s the help with a Medicaid application to get a consumer through the cumbersome process of qualifying for KanCare. It’s the in-home accessibility survey that helps someone with a disability and their family plan for changing accessibility needs. It’s the support of our experienced advocates as they assist a consumer navigate the reasonable accommodation request process with a landlord or settle a dispute over a service or emotional support animal. It’s helping a consumer tap into resources for transitioning from a nursing home or rehab facility back into their home. It's advocating for the disability vote and assisting with voter registration. It's money management, food preparation skills, SNAP, rent and utility benefit applications, computer program, smart phone and tablet accessibility training. It’s assisting with employment goals, housing needs, community access, peer support, assistive technology and so much more. It’s the million little things that matter. The slow and steady constant in a world rushing by. The deep breath and calming voice amidst the chaos of a COVID pandemic - the trusted source for connection to community and resources. It's the small stuff that matters in a very big way. It’s who we are - a big part of the million little pieces each connecting and creating a path forward in the journey to an accessible, inclusive, universally designed, equitable future. - Amy Ballinger, Community Engagement Manager
Would you consider becoming a member of our financial support team? We will be sending out our Fall Fundraising Cards before you know it and we want to add YOU to the list! Visit the Giving page on our website to learn more about giving to Independence, Inc., contact Amy Ballinger to add your name to our Fall mailing list, or even Give Online Now! We value and appreciate all support we receive!
durable medical equipment including shower benches walkers a knee scooter and more in a room with gray carpet
For more information on our Equipment Loan Bank, visit our website or contact us today!
Independence, Inc. Durable Medical Equipment Loan Bank -
Here When You Need Us!
Whether you have a new or progressing disability, are recovering from surgery, have a temporary injury or impairment or experiencing age-related mobility issues, Independence, Inc. is here for YOU with our Durable Medical Equipment Loan Bank to help serve your mobility and accessibility needs.
We offer gently used equipment donated by the community, to anyone in need of it - from walkers, rollators and wheelchairs to shower stools, transfer benches, commodes and much more. The loan bank is open during regular office hours, Monday-Friday 8:30-5:00 for both borrowers and donors.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2021
America's Recovery - Powered by Inclusion!
Did You Know?
Independence, Inc. is a provider of Financial Management Services (FMS) for eligible persons with disabilities desiring to direct their own personal care services under the Kansas Medicaid HCBS Waiver Program.

Financial management includes:
  • Preparation of semi-monthly payroll
  • Filing of related payroll returns and W-2s
  • Filing taxes including unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation coverage
  • Information and Assistance to beneficiaries/family/representative directing their services

You hire, train, and supervise your own Personal Care Service Worker(PCSW). Your Care Coordinator through Managed Care will determine the number of hours per day you are eligible to employ PCSWs.
To determine eligibility, contact the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) or your Case Manager (if you require services through the I/DD waiver). The Managed Care Company you are assigned then contacts Independence, Inc. Which, in turn, contacts you to set up a time to meet and complete the necessary paperwork.
November is National Family Caregivers Month
Caregiver Action Network (CAN) is the nation’s leading family caregiver organization working to improve the quality of life for the more than 90 million Americans who care for loved ones with chronic conditions, disabilities, disease, or the frailties of old age.
Ways to get involved:
Find comfort in knowing that you are not alone by listening to the experiences of your fellow caregivers. Check out the video resource center.
A Big Welcome to some Fabulous New ILC Team Members!
Ashley Knicely, WORK Program Independent Living Counselor (ILC)
Ashley is from West Virginia and moved to Pittsburg, Kansas in July so her fiancé could pursue a Master’s Degree at Pittsburg State. Before joining the Independence, Inc. ILC team, Ashley worked in Human Services for many years, helping to run residential facilities for those who have Intellectual and developmental disabilities. She is currently in School to obtain a Associates in Paralegal Studies and a Bachelors in Political Science with the hope to proceed to Law School. Her goal is to become an advocate and represent for those who have chronic illness, physical, developmental, and Intellectual disabilities. She is very excited to join the Independence Inc team as an ILC and has had a great experience throughout the training and getting-to-know everyone period!
dark skinned female with long braided hair wearing a bright red shirt smiling at the camera with one hand on her hip
Jerica Jones, WORK Program Independent Living Counselor (ILC)
"I am native to Wichita- this is my home. I am all about my family and helping others. I live on the Northeast side with my King and our 4kids, three boys and one girl in the middle. I have the most supportive spouse in the world, he helps me run/support our Kingdom and allows me to chase my dreams and passions. I am a newly certified Doula and a member of the Wichita Birth Justice Society where we are on a mission to lower the mortality rates around pregnancy/birth for Black and Brown families. I lived most of my life as an only child. My parents were married for 17 years until my mom passed away in 2011 from cancer, leaving me as my dad's guardian. I was able to care for him and build a stronger bond until he passed away in 2019. I am grateful for our time together. I worked with disadvantaged youth and foster kids from 2016 till 2021. I was a Life skills coach, Counselor, Behavioral health technician, and Family Support Worker for Reintegration and Aftercare. It is safe to say people are my passion. I am excited to bring my passion for people to start a career at Independence Inc."

A Look Ahead at our Winter Weather Policy
Our "snow day" or Inclement Weather policy follows that of the Lawrence School District. If the Lawrence Public Schools close for snow, ice or extreme temperatures, Independence, Inc. will close as well. And if the schools have a late start or early dismissal, we will likely do the same. This includes our office as well as our transportation services.
background of an icy road with the words weather related closings
Winter weather is just around the corner! To follow the latest Independence, Inc. weather and holiday closings as well as other events, visit our Calendar or follow us on FB, Twitter and Instagram
A group of diverse individuals standing in a circle looking up with hands outstretched to the center of the circle
Independence, Inc. Upcoming Board Meetings - Public Welcome!
Independence, Inc. Board Meetings are held the first Monday of every month and are open to the public. We currently meet via Zoom or call-in format. For information on how to join or request an accommodation, contact us!

Next Board Meeting: Monday, November 8