What would your biggest fear be if you woke up one morning and found out you were now entirely dependent on others for help?
This question was posed by Hwei-Ling at the start of this week’s incubator meeting with Stavros, a service agency for individuals with disabilities, and the answers to it all fell along the same lines. People were afraid of being burdens on others, not getting proper care in a timely and professional fashion, and of having to live in an institution for the rest of their lives. Thankfully, Joe Wolejko from Stavros was present to dispel any of those fears and discuss all the opportunities offered by Stavros to prevent these fears that some people with disabilities may have from becoming a reality.
Stavros INC was first created in 1974 as an Independent Living Center by a group of individuals with spinal injuries in Amherst. The group moved out of state hospitals, nursing homes, and parent’s homes to start a new wave of advocacy for individuals with disabilities in the Amherst area and beyond. Now in 2018, Stavros is a thriving agency that offers much of the same services as ACC does to the people with disabilities that they help every day.
As Wolejko described each part of Stavros’ programs, it became clear that this is an agency dedicated to helping others succeed as well as be able to live as independently as they can with a disability. Stavros provides consultations on healthcare, accessible housing, and hiring a qualified personal care attendant for any participant who meets the agency’s requirements. In addition, Wolejko described two amazing programs within the agency that assist people with disabilities in the Amherst area: Transition to Adulthood Program (TAP) and the Home Sweet Home Program.
Working with young adults with disabilities from ages 14-22, Stavros assists with helping the participants of TAP ease into adulthood by helping them learn how to advocate for themselves; understanding their full potential; and even helping them find employment once they graduate from the program at 22. Funded by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, it is an excellent opportunity for young adults living with disabilities.
Home Sweet Home meanwhile is a program that engages groups within the Pioneer Valley to better improve the lives of people with disabilities by building ramps. They rely on donations throughout the community and even get volunteers from the local colleges, such as UMass, to help them build the ramps. To this date, they have built 700 ramps since the agency started.
If you, or a loved one, has a disability but do not feel you know how to advocate properly for yourself or them, visit Stavros in one of their 3 different locations within Amherst, Springfield, or Greenfield. To contact them, call (413) 256-0473 Monday to Friday from 9:00am-5:00pm
ACC was thrilled to have Stavros visit, and we are just as excited for next week, February 21st, when our very own Pat Creaser will be holding a Smooth Moves Dancercise.
By: Mackenzie Wilson