Westchester Independent Living Center

Putnam Independent Living Services

December 2021

During this busy time of year, we wish you all a very Happy Holidays from everyone at WILC & PILS. We look forward to continuing to support you in the New Year!

The Meetup.com Project

Meetup.com is a popular website that supports people in their local communities to find people with whom to enjoy similar interests. My Peer Consumers to whom I provide services, like me, yearn to socialize in their communities outside the mental health system. As a working Peer, I’m grateful to be encouraged by WILC to support my Peer Consumers to develop their social communities using https://www.meetup.com/.

WILC currently has a Meetup.com Organizer Membership. We have sponsored 12 groups. We are currently sponsoring 3 Consumers to create and facilitate their own groups. These groups can: 1. Be about anything; 2. Take place at the time, place, and with whom they choose; 3. Meet every day, every week, every month, etc. Since these groups started during the COVID Pandemic, they are taking place online.

Our Consumers are grateful because they’ve met people from New York City and Upstate as well as people from all over the U.S. and even around the world because their groups are online. Also, a good amount of people who are joining the groups are not recipients of mental health services, especially those delivered by non-profits and government-run mental health system; as a result, our Consumers are truly integrating themselves into their communities as a whole, not just “ill and disabled” people.


I’ve been supporting my Peer Consumers to brainstorm for and create the groups, set up the meetup.com pages, market their groups using social media and offering continued mutual peer support practice to maintain the groups. What’s more, I’ve encouraged and supported them to open their own social video app accounts so they can truly hold their groups when they want without my needing to use WILC’s Zoom account.

The three groups we’re currently supporting are:

  •  The Talent Express
  •  Getting Better and Getting Out
  • Chronic Healing for Self-Care Motivation

This is the link to WILC’s meetup.com page where you can find information about and join the groups we sponsor and that are open to the public: https://www.meetup.com/members/305560905/

For more information about the Meetup.com Project please contact me (Jeff) using the contact information below. You may also click this link to read a more in-depth article about this project: Meetup.com Project 12.21.docx (sharepoint.com)


Jeffrey Zitofsky, CWIP

Peer Independent Living Advocate – Mental Health Specialist

Westchester Independent Living Center

10 County Center Road 2nd floor

White Plains, NY 10607

(914) 682-3926 x 2123 (Voice)

(914) 259-8036 (VP/TTY)


FEMA Disaster Assistance Application Deadline Extended to January 4, 2022 

Homeowners and renters with uninsured or underinsured damage to their property from Hurricane Ida now have until Tuesday, Jan. 4, to apply for FEMA disaster assistance. In order to apply, residents must have been affected by the September 1-3, 2021 storm and live in the Bronx, Brooklyn (Kings County), Queens, Staten Island (Richmond County), Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Rockland, Suffolk or Westchester.

To apply for FEMA assistance, visit DisasterAssistance.gov, use the FEMA mobile app or call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362. If you use video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others, give FEMA the number for that service. Helpline operators are available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Press 2 for Spanish. Press 3 for an interpreter who speaks your language.

January 4th is also the deadline to apply for a disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

For more detailed information, click here

Food Insecurity Prevention Program (FIPP)

The Food Insecurity Prevention Program is funded through The CARES Act. The purpose of this program is to provide additional support during the COVID-19 pandemic for people living with disabilities so they can maintain an independent lifestyle and are empowered to sustain their own health and meet their nutritional needs.   


Gift cards distributed under the program are for the purpose of purchasing food and other essential items. Please use them at local grocery stores, delis, farmers markets etc. Gift cards should not be considered income and are one-time support. Cards that have been lost, stolen, or are defective will not be replaced by WILC under any circumstances.  


As of this week, we have served more than 1,400 individual consumers through the FIPP program, and we are currently accepting new consumers on a first come first serve basis. If you would like to participate in this service, you can register by calling the Westchester Independent Living Center at (914) 682-3926 or by visiting us at our website www.wilc.org, clicking the “Get Help and Services” tab at the top of the page and filling out on our online intake form. Please be aware you may be asked to disclose a disability or hardship in order to participate.

Impairment-Related Work Expenses

Impairment-Related Work Expenses (also known as IRWE's) are costs for items or services that you need in order to work because of your disability. Social Security will deduct the costs of an IRWE from your countable income when determining your eligibility for Social Security disability benefits.

An IRWE must meet all of the following criteria:

  • The item(s) or service(s) enable you to work;
  • You need the item or service because of a physical or mental impairment;
  • You pay for the item or service yourself and are not reimbursed by another source (such as Medicare, Medicaid or a private insurance carrier); and
  • The cost is "reasonable," meaning that the cost represents the standard charge for the item or service in your community. (From SSA Website)

For further information as to IRWE's please contact the Independent Living Services Team at PILS for Benefits Advisement. We can be reached at 845-228-7457.

Employment Assistance

WILC is very involved with helping participants get employment, and we assist in various ways including resume revising, networking, or hosting workshops about interviewing and resume building. As advocates, we do whatever it takes to help a participant in any way we can. The PIP program being at Acces VR offices, means we are in the know for jobs that are available in Westchester and Rockland.  


Job seekers would find the following article, in which Governor Hochul announces a statewide initiative to help connect job seekers to employment, extremely useful.




On the first page of the virtual career site referenced by Governor Hochul, there is a link to a listing of virtual workshops pertaining to job search. We at PIP work with people who have disabilities with Acces VR to go back to work or school, and Acces is one of the workshops available!  




There is also a link to a job bank website. It is very helpful if you enter the type of job you are interested in, as well as your area zip code. You are then able to apply for any jobs that may be a good fit for you.


JobZone (ny.gov)


If you still need assistance, feel free to call Denise DelliSanti at (845) 426-5416 or email her at ddelliSanti@wilc.org.

New Board Members

The Westchester Independent Living Center is a peer-driven, community-based organization that empowers people with disabilities to lead self-directed lives in the community through advocacy, training, and referral, to resources that promote independent living. We are currently seeking new board members whose passions align with our mission and who share a vision to promote full community inclusion for people with disabilities by breaking down barriers.


If you are interested, please email us a short bio, including your personal and professional experiences, and why you want to join our board. Questions and applications can be sent to leatonwhite@wilc.org.

Emergency Preparedness 

Winter can bring surprises which call for special steps to be ready. Most of us survived hurricane season this year relatively safely, except perhaps for Ida. Winter months, however, bring new challenges which require special planning. Do you remember the snowstorm in 2018 which resulted in so many community members being without power for a very long time? It left more than 100,000 people in the lower Hudson Valley struggling without electricity, heat, or refrigeration; having to learn new strategies such as operating generators properly. 

To help in these situations, WILC’s website has a wealth of information on all aspects of emergency preparedness: www.wilc.org/emergency-preparedness/

In addition, here are some more specific links for cold weather, the first two of which are Hazard Information Sheets from FEMA, while the last focuses on particular needs of persons with disabilities (PWDs):  

Facebook  Instagram  LinkedIn

Westchester Independent Living Center

10 County Center Road 2nd floor

White Plains, NY 10607

(914) 682-3926 (Voice)

(914) 259-8036 (VP)

(914) 682-8518 (FAX)


Facebook  LinkedIn

Putnam Independent Living Services

1441 Route 22, Suite 204

(Tompkins Mahopac Bank building)

Brewster, New York 10509

(845) 228-7457 (Voice)

(914) 259-8036 (VP)

(845) 228-7460 (Fax)