A group of concerned citizens, the majority of whom were persons with disabilities founded the Southeast Center for Independent Living in 1986. Our founding activists shared a vision of affecting change that would make the community accessible to any person with a disability. They aspired to provide the resources, knowledge, and assistance to those with a disability who wished to pursue a more independent, self-directed lifestyle.
A Board of Directors was chosen by Consumers which had a majority (51%) of people with disabilities elected. From that point on interviews were conducted leading to our first Executive Director and staff being hired, office space was researched and arranged for, office equipment, supplies, furniture, etc. were purchased. Consumers learned to write by laws, policy, and job descriptions. This was the beginning of making their vision into a reality.
In 1987 the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) awarded SCIL a startup contract. SCIL began to advocate for consumer rights with regards to transportation, housing, and health care issues. By February of 1987 SCIL opened in Fall River, MA.
Just two months later the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing awarded a larger contract to SCIL to provide independent living services to individuals that are deaf and hard of hearing. This allowed SCIL the opportunity to reach out and help more individuals in the community.
Then the following year in 1988 MRC was awarded a federal contract for Title VII Part A which gave SCIL access to these funds to provide adaptive equipment and other independent living services that would be needed to enhance the consumers’ independence.
From then till now SCIL has continued to make our founders’ vision a reality by providing the support and services needed to help individuals with disabilities live independent lives within the community.