CIL Wellness Lunch and Learn!

Last week, the CIL provided a fantastic Lunch and Learn for staff, as part of our monthly health and wellness activities we are conducting throughout the year! 

We had a wonderful guest speaker, David Campos, teach us all about cyber security.  David has worked in the IT field for the last 8 years, and has an interest in security research, where he figures out ways to stay safe online and also helps others learn how to stay safe.  This is an extremely important topic, as so much of our personal information is out on the web, and we need resources to protect ourselves. 

David joined us through Zoom and presented about general security, online safety tips, password management and encouraging staff to enable two-factor authentication (2FA).  He also provided an interactive phishing quiz that was a great way to practice identifying suspicious emails or links.  CIL staff thought it was a great presentation and felt empowered gaining this new knowledge and information!

ID:  Graphic includes two pictures.  The top picture is of staff sitting in the Gainesville CIL activity room listening to the presentation.  The bottom picture is three staff members sitting in the Ocala CIL activity room listening to the presentation.  Pictures are separated with a light blue border.  

FAAST Program represents at Vitality and Wellness Fair

This past April continued to be busy for the CIL!  Last month, CIL staff Claudia Avendano represented the CIL and FAAST Program at the Vitality and Wellness Fair at The Village at Gainesville.  The event was part of their Vitality Program, which is specially designed for their residents, and highlights a thoughtful emphasis on overall wellness.  Claudia was able to provide information about assistive technology devices that can assist with health and wellness, as well as various services at the CIL.  She had a great day speaking with residents and community members, and spreading the word about all we do for people with disabilities here in Gainesville!    

ID:  Picture of Claudia at her display table during the event with other vendor tables and participants in the background.  The table is covered with the FAAST tablecloth, brochures, informational flyers and FAAST AT devices.

CIL Staff Represent at Dixie County Event!

Last month, CIL Staff Kevin Towles and Claudia Avendano represented the CIL at the Dixie County Fly-In Cruise-In Business Expo at the Cross City Airport.  This is a huge community event and air show with displays of classic cars, cruisers and unique aircraft, that drew in over 500 people this year.  Kevin and Claudia gave out tons of information about the CIL and our services and did a great job getting the word out to Dixie County residents about the wonderful work we do!

ID:  Image includes three pictures.  Top left is Claudia (standing on the left) and Kevin (sitting on the right) at the CIL information table covered with a royal blue tablecloth and CIL brochures.  The standing CIL banner is in the background to the right behind Kevin.  Bottom left are two airplanes performing aerobatics demonstrations.  On the entire right side of the image are Kevin (left) and Claudia (right) standing with a CIL Event sign in between them.  With her right hand, Claudia is holding the flag pole of a light blue and very tall Dixie County Chamber of Commerce flag that also stands in between them.  

FAAST Coping with Caregiving Concludes Four Part Series

Earlier last month, the CIL and FAAST Program partnered with Elder Options to provide the last session of the Coping with Caregiving series.  This was a free course (four sessions total) for caregivers and clients who care for individuals with dementia, chronic illness, or any other disability, to learn how to de-stress and better manage daily life. 

The topic for the last session was “Filling the Well” and participants learned strategies about self-care and to make sure they are taking care of themselves first so they will be able to face the challenges and frustrations that come up throughout the day. The final goal presented to caregivers was making sure they put into practice all of the strategies learned in the four sessions.  CIL Staff Claudia, also provided a FAAST training on the Echo Show device, a smart speaker enabled with a 7-inch touchscreen by Amazon featuring Alexa, the company’s AI assistant. 

ID:  Picture of three attendees (left) and CIL Staff Claudia (right), sitting at a table in the CIL activity room.  Claudia is sitting across from the attendees.

Employment Program Success Story!

Happy Friday and Cinco de Mayo Everyone!  Please enjoy this awesome success story from Lauren, our Employment Services Director.  Thanks so much to our wonderful Employment Team for all that you do with helping our consumers achieve meaningful employment! 

Brandon had never worked or even interviewed before, but was seeking part-time employment, specifically with Publix that was close to home. Once we applied, Brandon was called for an interview, but needed a haircut and some interview clothes first. We were able to work with FlashCutz to obtain a haircut, and the Career Cabana with our local Career Source, to obtain a free interview outfit. He was nervous, but ready!

We interviewed with Kenny at the Grand Oaks Publix in Ocala and Brandon knocked the interview out of the park with the answer to his final interview question: “What’s the most important part about your Publix uniform?” He replied: “A winning smile,” which sealed the deal! He was hired on the spot at his first ever interview, at his first job, on the first try! Brandon has begun working with his coworkers, job coach and other members of management to address the accommodations needed and successfully begin work! He looks forward to going to work every shift as well as helping his family with household needs.

ID:  Picture of Brandon standing in front of a beige wall outside, with brick at the bottom half.  He is wearing his Publix uniform and name tag.

CIL hosts Alachua County Expo at Santa Fe College!

In mid-April, the CIL hosted our 2nd Annual Emergency Preparedness Expo for people with disabilities in Alachua County at Santa Fe College, and it was a great day for all!  It was attended by nearly 50 participants including 16 vendors (community-based organizations), and multiple emergency management and first responder agencies.  Throughout the event, participants with disabilities accessed important resources about how to fully prepare for any type of emergency, which is vital as the hurricane season approaches.   

Special thanks to all of our wonderful donors, vendors and speakers who helped make this event possible!  We are grateful for your continued support of people with disabilities in Alachua County!

Also, great job to our Emergency Preparedness Team!  We appreciate you all so much and all of your hard work to deliver these valuable services for the community we serve!

ID:  Six pictures within the image.  The top left picture is of attendees at the sign-in table.  The top middle picture is of Tony giving a presentation with a huge screen to the left on the wall, showing a PowerPoint slide about CIL services.  The top right picture is of the standing CIL banner with a table to the right.  The middle picture is of CIL Staff Terri (left) and Holly (right), sitting at the sign-in table.  The bottom left picture is of CIL Staff Niusha (left) and Sada (right), sitting at the CIL table with the CIL standing banner to the left; the table is covered with a royal blue tablecloth, CIL brochures and swag items.  The bottom right picture is of CIL Staff Claudia (left) and Lindsey (right), sitting at a table covered with a FAAST logo tablecloth and the FAAST standing banner is behind them; Claudia has FAAST brochures and AT devices on the table in front of her, and Lindsey has AgrAbility brochures and information on the table in front of her.  The CIL logo is in the middle right, and the Santa Fe College logo is in the middle left.  Each image is separated by lines with the CIL logo colors of green, light blue, dark blue, teal and fuchsia.   

Holiday Decorating at the CIL!

This past week, some of our CIL team members took time out of their very busy schedules, to help make our Gainesville lobby, hallways and activity room a little bit brighter and festive this holiday season!  Special thanks to everyone who was able to help.  Our Center is now ready to celebrate the holidays in style! 

ID:  Images consists of five pictures:  first picture on the left is of Destini in the activity room wrapping a picture, smiling at the camera, second picture top center is of Tony in the activity room assembling the Christmas tree, third picture on the right is of Amy and Holly in the activity room, holding up decorations and smiling at the camera, fourth picture in the center is of the fully decorated CIL Christmas Tree in the activity room, and the fifth picture covering the very bottom is of the fully decorated front lobby.

CIL Celebrating the Season of Gratitude!

It’s the season of gratitude and the CIL will be spreading tons of gratitude cheer throughout this holiday season!  Starting with this testimonial from Julie, daughter of John, a recent FAAST Program recipient who received a new power wheelchair!  Please enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!

“Claudia with FAAST has been extremely helpful and accommodating. We would not have been able to get the power chair for my dad without her help.

“My dad is 84 and has just recently moved into a private home with the caregiver. We don’t have a lot of money, so we do need a lot of help. He has a deformity in one foot making it very difficult and painful for him to walk. Poor circulation and many other issues mean the power chair is life-changing for him.

“He can now get around the house to get his own food from the kitchen. He already feels more independent and happier.

“Thank you, Claudia and FAAST! You have made a huge difference in my dad’s life!”

ID:  Picture of John using his new power wheelchair in his kitchen at home. He is smiling and giving a thumbs-up.

Join us for Friday Night Fun Night!

Friday Night Fun Night for young adults with disabilities, is kicking off this Friday, November 18th from 7pm to 9pm at the CIL! Start the weekend off right with bingo, karaoke, pizza, and fun for all!

Please RSVP for in-person or online attendance, by 12pm on Friday the 18th at:

*There is a $5 cost per person to defray the costs of refreshments and prizes.

For more information, call Trish Thoburn at 352-339-6278.

Event Sponsored by:

Independence and Opportunity Network of Gainesville (ION)
Gator’s Domino’s

ID: Bingo flyer that includes all of the information listed above, with a colorful border containing bingo cards in the bottom left corner and numbered bingo balls in the remaining corners.

CIL Team Attends McIntosh 1890 Festival!

CIL Team Members tabled at the McIntosh 1890 Festival last week, the largest fundraiser of the year for several local organizations. Kevin, Cammeron, and Claudia spoke with hundreds of attendees throughout the day about CIL services and all we have to offer to community members and families.

It’s wonderful to be back attending community events in person again after all the challenges we faced with outreach during Covid. The festival was twice as large than last year, with over 1,000 attendees.

For more information about the event, visit:

ID: image includes 2 photos. Top picture is staff standing behind their table filled with brochures and giveaways at the CIL booth: Consumer Specialist Kevin Towles (left), ADA Paratransit Coordinator Cammeron Smith (center), and Assistive Technologies Specialist Claudia Avendano (right). Bottom picture is of attendees walking the festival, surrounded by vendors booths and streets shaded by massive oak trees.