Here's what You'll Find in This "Welcome Spring" Issue:

It's been a long winter and we are so ready for Spring growth, recovery and renewal! Take a look at what's in this "Welcome Spring" issue:

  • New Funding Cycle for our Accessible Housing Programs has Begun!
  • We're ready for Spring with a leak-proof basement!
  • The Lawrence Loop & Accessibility Guide
  • DG Co accessible outdoor attractions
  • Welcome new staff members!
  • Our Annual Report is here!
  • Working together through mentoring
  • New Government-Funded Position will help our Communities through the Public Health Emergency Wind-down and Beyond
  • COVID-19: is there a possible rise in cases on the horizon?
  • Service Highlights - We have the knowledge, resources and experience to serve YOU!

City of Lawrence Awards a New Round of Affordable Housing Trust Fund Grants for 2022, to Support its Affordable and Accessible Housing Initiatives

Pictured above: Independence, Inc. Executive Director, Jill Dudley and Core Services Manager, Daniel Brown, pose with the City of Lawrence "Affordable Housing Starts Here" yard signs, given to AHTF grant recipients to place near their buildings.

Pictured Right: Jill Dudley, Daniel Brown, City of Lawrence Housing Administrator, Lea Roselyn and photographer Taylor Mah, prepare to take photos of the presentation of the AHTF yard sign.

Visit the City of Lawrence website for a complete list of the 2022 Affordable Housing Trust Fund recipients and information about projects funded.

Read the City of Lawrence Press Release announcing Affordable Housing Trust Fund awards.

"Affordable Housing Starts Here"

Independence, Inc. was once again awarded funding of $50,000 from the City of Lawrence Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) to continue to assist low- and moderate-income people with disabilities, get the accessibility modifications needed to stay in their homes. Since 2019, we have been able to provide about 50 essential accessibility modifications to existing homes within the City of Lawrence and are grateful for the continued funding!

The Affordable Housing Trust Fund is available through a local sales tax, with the purpose of:

  • providing and improving the quality, availability, and affordability of housing in Lawrence;
  • acquiring land for future affordable housing units; and
  • investing in private/public partnerships for the provision of affordable housing.

When it Rains, it Pours!

And oh how it's been pouring lately - right into our basement!

Thank you to Thrasher Foundation Repair for your excellent work in repairing, waterproofing and installing a new sump pump! Now we can enjoy the April showers and look forward to May flowers without the worry and headache of water seeping in!

Image descriptions: right: new sump pump, wall waterproofing and interior drainage system; below: walls covered with waterproofing material; lower right: Thrasher installation truck.

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Enjoy the Lawrence Loop this Spring!

photo of a long concrete pathway leading to a gazebo with accessible picnic tables with green grass and trees on either side

Ready to get out and enjoy the warming weather? Here’s a resource! Check out the guide to accessibility of the Lawrence Loop, a paved trail that encircles the City of Lawrence. This printed guide advises users where the most accessible (that is, flattest) sections of this trail are, and provides information about parking, nearest restrooms, etc. Copies of the guide are available at no charge at Independence, Inc. If you can’t pick up a copy soon, see the “Segment Breakdown” section of this website:

Lawrence Loop (

It advises that the Burcham Park, Arboretum to Clinton Parkway, and Burroughs Creek Rail Trail are the most accessible sections of the Loop. If you want a challenge, the Rock Chalk Park/Baldwin Creek Trail is also a beautiful section of the Loop!

You can also email Dot Nary at [email protected] to request a copy of the guide in .pdf form.

The arrival of spring is a perfect time to enjoy the outdoors. Grab a guide and hit the Loop! 

- guest contributor, Dot Nary, Ph.D, Assistant Research Professor, Research and Training Center on Independent Living

Get Outdoors this Spring and Enjoy the Many Douglas County Accessible Spaces!

Get outdoors this spring, take in some fabulous sights and breathe in some fresh air! From the Audio Reader Sensory Garden to the Ryan Gray Playground for All Children and a myriad of both indoor and outdoor sites in between, accessible opportunities abound for nature lovers, health and fitness enthusiasts, gardeners, and those looking for other leisure or recreational activities. Find out more from the KU for Health and Disability Policy Studies website

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View of the accessible outdoor sensory garden pavilion in Lawrence Kansas
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Above: paved trail leading to an accessible picnic pavilion overlooking one of the ponds at the Lawrence Arboretum

Left: The Sensory Garden Pavilion, designed by University of Kansas School of Architecture Dirt Works Studio, located next to the Audio-Reader building in Lawrence, KS.

It's Been a Season of Change! Welcome New Staff to the WORK ILC Department!


Jerica Jones, Independent Living Counselor, Wichita area

Jerica is a native to Wichita, KS and is "all about family and helping others". She is married to her "King" and they have 4 children - three boys and one girl. "I have the most supportive spouse in the world, who helps me run/support our Kingdom and allows me to chase my dreams and passions" says Jerica. She is a newly certified Doula and a member of the Wichita Birth Justice Society with a mission to lower the mortality rates around pregnancy and birth for Black and Brown families. Jerica became her father's guardian in 2011 after loosing her mother to cancer and was able to care for him and build a stronger bond until he passed away in 2019. Her previous experience includes working with under-served youth and foster kids, Life Skills Coach, Counselor, Behavioral Health Technician, and Family Support Worker for Reintegration and Aftercare. "I am excited to bring my passion for people to start a career at Independence Inc."


Makayla Bockover, Independent Living Counselor, Pittsburg area

Makayla is from Pittsburg, Kansas where she graduated from Pittsburg High School in 2016 and worked as a paraprofessional in the school district before graduating from Pittsburg State University in the summer of 2021. She studied Psychology and pursued a degree in education during the restrictive COVID pandemic period before switching to a degree in General Studies. Previous experience includes working as a Mental Health Assistant at Crawford County Mental Health for children with behavioral disabilities and working as an in-home personal care assistant. Makayla's desire is to work directly with people to assist in overcoming any barriers that may stand in the way of living the life they desire. "Taking care of people has always been like second nature to me and I cannot wait to continue that privilege with Independence Inc.!”

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Lynn Larsen, Independent Living Counselor, Salina area

Lynn believes in partnering with organizations that share similar missions in guiding their service delivery. She holds fast to the idea that as a community of partners, we can more adequately and efficiently provide services when we work together.

Lynn has over 10 years of experience working with families and individuals with disabilities including a strong background in coordinating care for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, and mental health concerns She is centrally located in Salina, KS and lives with her partner, Mike, her daughter, Brooklynn, and several fur babies. Lynn enjoys being outdoors, hiking and camping. She has also enjoyed coaching a competitive gymnastics team for over 15 years.

Lynn's mottos in life are “Great things never come from comfort zones and “A little progress each day adds up to big results".

The Independence, Inc. Annual Report is Here!

We wish to thank our community, our partners, our consumers and our donors for a fabulous year and for helping us successfully navigate 2021 through all of the twists and turns of yet another year marred by COVID. We are grateful to you for sticking with us as we experienced another year of growth, change and adaptation and even had an unexpected record year of donations received! It truly takes a village working together to serve our communities and what a village we have. We see you, we appreciate you and we value each and every one of you!

View our Interactive Annual Report 

Expanding the Public Health Workforce Within Aging and Disability Networks

Above: Independence, Inc. Community Engagement Manager (and newsletter editor) Amy Ballinger, will take on the additional position of Social Support and Resource Specialist for a 28 month contract position, beginning June1.

Below: Logo for the Administration for Community Living (ACL), part of the US Department of Health and Human Services. The ACL announced a $150 million investment to expand the public health workforce within the aging and disability networks back in November of 2021 and began distributing funds to grantees this year, including to Centers for Independent Living (CILs)

Click on the links below for more information about the PHE wind-down

What's at stake with the wind-down of continuous Medicaid enrollment protection:

Preparing for Medicaid changes when the PHE expires

Organizational resources for the pandemic wind-down

New Contract Position to Help Further Navigate COVID Resources and Prepare for the Public Health Emergency Wind-down

Moving from a pandemic to an endemic sure feels like a good step - to a whole lot of people. But for the aging and disabled populations, there are many concerns with a rapid wind-down of programs, services and emergency orders, that could leave millions of people without critical protections.

In response to ongoing COVID concerns, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) began rolling out plans to fund an expansion of the Public Health Workforce for organizations within aging and disability networks - including Centers for Independent Living like Independence, Inc. The purpose, according to ACL, is to enhance provision of a variety of services that directly support public health. "With more than 50 years of experience and unmatched knowledge of the unique needs of older adults and people with disabilities, our networks are critical partners with the public health system, providing technical assistance and guidance on meeting the unique needs of older adults and people with disabilities", they said in a recently-released statement.

After researching ongoing needs and what the endemic could mean for our consumers and communities, Independence, Inc. responded by creating a new position - Social Support and Resource Specialist - to work for a 2 year period beginning June 1 to help consumers navigate this critical period of the winding down of the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency.

Amy Ballinger, Community Engagement Manager, will add the position to her workload and will begin contacting consumers, networking with health organizations, broadly reaching out to our communities and advocating with City and State agencies for a slow, careful and ultimately successful wind-down where people with disabilities aren't left without insurance, services and protections they need to stay healthy and remain in their homes.

"Many people aren't familiar with the hazards that can lie within post-pandemic operations for people with disabilities. Critical resources like Medicaid, mask mandates, access to COVID testing and more, are at risk of being lost, leaving people with disabilities at greater risk", said Ballinger. "My hope is to effectively work in our communities to make sure people with disabilities continue to have the care, resources and protections they need."

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Mentoring: "A Reciprocal, Collaborative at-will Relationship used to Promote Growth, Learning, and Career Development."

The Mentoring relationship can be a fabulous approach to assist organizations with problem-solving, growing a knowledge base and honing skills within the structure of an at-will, symbiotic relationship. Recently, Independence, Inc. Executive Director, Jill Dudley (above right) was asked by the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) to mentor another Center for Independent Living (CIL) - Life A Center for Independent Living in Pocatello, Idaho.

"I'm excited to mentor with the Life CIL. I will work with Heather Clarke (Deputy Director/CFO, pictured above left) exploring best fiscal policy, grants and budgets, as well as new funding opportunities for CILs", Said Dudley. "This will be a wonderful opportunity for both organizations to learn and energize each other around service delivery and best practices."

For Clarke, the mentoring relationship is all about continually searching for ways to more effectively serve people with disabilities. "Working in a CIL is not about having just one solution or process," says Clarke. "But given our shared focus and experiences serving the Disabled community, we have so much that we can both benefit from through this collaboration. We are very excited to take advantage of this opportunity to learn from and improve upon our operations that will ultimately help us better serve our communities here in Idaho."

Life A Center for Independent Living serves 17 counties within 4 cities in Idaho. This mentoring opportunity is facilitated by APRIL and will continue for 6 months - until September, 2022.

Will There Be Another Rise in COVID Cases? Experts Predict It's not Over and That Reported Numbers Could be Inaccurate. Here's why...

Above: interactive map of Kansas shows current and predicted COVID trends in the state, courtesy of Mayo Clinic COVID-19 resources

Below: Visit the Independence, Inc. website for local, state and national COVID-related resources, and contact us if you need assistance navigating these or other available resources.

We all want to be done with COVID, right? The pandemic has caused stress, isolation and devastating loss for over two years now, and people with all sorts of disabilities have arguably been hardest hit. As we enter the endemic phase, and relief, normalcy and hope start to refill the spaces once overflowing with the upheaval of the COVID era, some experts are cautioning against letting down our guard too soon.

"It's Not Over: COVID-19 Cases are on the Rise Again in US" reads a recent headline from US New and World Report that cites, among other things, that "reported (COVID) numbers are vast undercounts as more people test at home without reporting their infections or skip testing altogether."

What could this mean for our local communities, where testing sites are closing, mask mandates are lifted and school and work protocols are returning to normal? Find out more in the resources below:

Read the Full US News and World Report article

Kansas Department of Health and Environment COVID updates

ABC News Article: As COVID-19 Cases Rise, Disability Advocates say CDC isn't Doing Enough

Service Highlights: Vast Array of Knowledge and Experience Means a Million Little Ways (and Big!) We can Serve YOU!

From advocacy to transportation, accessible housing to peer support, business and community support to a medical equipment loan bank - we have the knowledge, experience and resources to assist, advocate for and support your independent living goals and needs. Here are just a few services highlights we provided from January through March:

  • 30 intakes completed for new or returning consumers
  • assisted a consumer obtain 3 months of rental assistance from the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance program (KERA)
  • assisted a consumer with advocacy for a new curb ramp at the local DMV office
  • facilitated communication between a consumer and various community agencies to support housing goals and prevent homelessness
  • assisted consumers with Medicaid applications
  • provided independent living training on money management, self-care/personal hygiene, self-advocacy and literacy goals
  • worked with consumers to apply for LIEAP funds to assist with energy bills
  • advocated for a consumer's Assistive Technology grant extension
  • worked with consumers on applying for SSDI
  • onboarding new participants into the WORK/ILC program
  • provided 1,342 rides through our General Public Transportation department
  • provided intakes for 9 new consumers into our FMS/PASS department
  • provided home accessibility surveys for consumers needing assistance with home modifications
  • assisted consumers look for and secure employment
  • assisted consumers with applying for healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace
  • provided training for a consumer on how to use a Braille Display Device
  • assisted consumers in applying for unemployment benefits


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