Community Outreach with Shera Curtis

Shera Curtis talks Community Outreach, providing resources and services to any one who is in need. If you have a disability, call and connect with Shera, who serves to provide you with information and referrals, one of the 5 core services you can find at all Centers For Independent Living.

SPEAKERS: Shera Curtis, Tony Delisle

Tony Delisle  00:49

Welcome back to another episode of The Independent Life. And I am very excited to have Shera Curtis with us today, community outreach specialist, and she does so many different things and would want to ask you first, you know, off the bat, just broadly speaking, what is it you do here at the Center for Independent Living?

Shera Curtis  01:11

I am the plug for the people. I’m the community outreach specialist. What that means is I provide resources services to anybody in need. If they have a disability, they call and it’s more like I&R. So I&R would be information or referral, where you have a question about how do you get a light for your wheelchair? Or how do you sign up for SSI? Or, I mean, the the question can be from A to Z. And I’m there to give them that resource that connection, and the answer.

Tony Delisle  01:43

So information or referral, one of the five core services that all Centers for Independent Living do. So we don’t provide all things for all people. But we want to know, in the community who does serve or provide resources for people and connect them to that. Why do you think that is important that we provide this kind of a service?

Shera Curtis  02:04

so that Martin Luther King said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are we doing for others?” And we did a needs assessment at the beginning. I think when I first started in February, it was a transition. So I was just being on boarded, and then COVID hit. And we were trying to figure out how to meet the needs of our people, how to meet the needs of our consumers, and still provide our mission and our vision for the for the organization. And with the needs assessment being done, we noticed that there were a lot of people in the community that didn’t have food. And it was a major food insecurity within Alachua County. And so I first started out with Catholic Charities and Catholic Charities offered food that was free. But I noticed that it wasn’t, it wasn’t sustainable. It wasn’t. It wasn’t ideal, the food that they were providing. So I looked into other resources. And then we we we stumbled upon the relationship with Brenda the Mighty. Our first box was a food box. And I think we had like two or three pallets. What was it? It was quite-

Tony Delisle  03:11

we got hundreds.

Shera Curtis  03:14

It was quite a bit of pallets that we had, and it was the food box was a little bit more ideal. It wasn’t to the place where we are now but it was the next step. It was granola bars, tuna fish, ravioli. So there were a lot of different combination foods that were more ideal, what people would eat. Nuts, things like that. And then we gave those out. And we started out with just I think we just were connecting to the consumer, just individual consumers, we would deliver them they would call and it was an I&R call, they would call in and we would be like, okay, we have food or, or we would do the needs assessment. And if we hadn’t done it and say, Hey, are you needing food or you needing these resources, we have this for you. And so we were able to connect them then. And then it expanded just a little bit further. And we were reaching out to housing properties. So these weren’t just one and twos. These were 50 and 60 and 70 people in one location. And we said, okay, if we have the resource to connect them to the food, we’re going to be able to provide services or substances for all these people in this local area. So we expanded now to where we’re doing food distributions every week. And we’re giving over 300 food boxes a month to people in need. I think that’s a really good start. I think we started with maybe five or six in a week and now we’re up to at least 70. So we are grown. We’ve definitely grown.

Tony Delisle  04:46

That’s phenomenal. And I’m glad you mentioned that in February and 2020 you came on board and join the family. And March 13 I’ll remember that day it was like a Friday I believe. We decided because of the COVID pandemic that we were going to have to lock our doors. But we’re going to continue to do services, and many of which is in the virtual world, but what services. And you worked very hard to create a needs assessment, to go out into the community contact, the people we were already working with, and then contact people we didn’t know with disabilities, to see what their needs are. And you really landed in a place that was lockstep with the Florida Department of Emergency Management. Through our collaborations with this agency, we were in the state’s Emergency Operations Center. And we’re working with food distribution networks because of that. And this was one of the biggest, important responses that the state, county, cities were doing in terms of meeting the needs of the people due to the COVID. So it was really exciting for me to see that you through your needs assessment had identified the needs of the people that was also identified through the Florida Department of Emergency Management, we were able to connect those relationships and make that happen. And one of the things that really set us apart was because the state was distributing food publicly, and people could drive up and get food and throw it in their trucks. Of course, a lot of the people through your needs assessments were finding out didn’t have transportation, weren’t able to get out there for other reasons. And even if they were, there were some access and functional needs that weren’t being met if people you know, needed to communicate, or deaf, or if people needed to communicate and had either cognitive impairments and couldn’t, so the effective communication piece wasn’t there. So the idea, and that you were able to do is what’s get the food to the people where they are in the community, not have them come to these distribution sites.

Shera Curtis  06:50

And it was a lot of even just to say some of the insecurities were family support, a lot of these people had pre-existing conditions, and their families weren’t coming around as much. So they were trying to figure out, how would they get groceries. Some of them didn’t have the resources to get the delivery services. So it was very timely, that I was able to come and say, Hey, you don’t have to come to the center, you don’t have to drive anywhere, I won’t even have to make contact with you, I can leave them at your door. And then we can make the transition there. It was also I was very intentional about how I was upholding the CDC guidelines with having multiple, multiple bodies touch the foods and the products. I would make sure I would sanitize things, I would sanitize my hands, I would be washing my hands or, or whatever the process is where I would do those regularly, every time that I dropped them off and making sure there was no contact, reassuring them that there was no contact. So they definitely felt comfortable. And they felt secure, even with the family not being around. So it was just like they were… I was making the connection to be a part of the family.

Tony Delisle  07:59

I appreciate that. Because at the you know, the start of this pandemic, you know, there was a lot of fear, things were getting shut down, stay at home orders were in place, and the precautions that are needed to be taken in terms of picking up the food, touching the boxes, transporting the boxes dropping off the boxes, there’s so many attention to details regarding the CDC guidelines for safe and effective ways of mitigating any infections that were there a lot of details that were being paid attention to. And I know that was appreciated by some of the people that you were delivering food to. I’m interested to know what was it like for people when you were able to connect with them, the food, or I know you’re also delivering PPE and other essential resources, disaster preparedness supply kits and, and self care products and all these other kinds of things. Aside from those resources, what else were you experiencing when delivering these essential resources to our consumers and the community?

Shera Curtis  09:00

I think we were, we were bridging still out more. A lot of people didn’t know that we were here. And even the ones I did didn’t know that we provided such services. So giving them a place where they can connect and have a solid connection of solid plug of resources. I think presence. It was a lot of presence. A lot of people were just grateful that someone cared enough to come out. And it wasn’t just a random person. Just kind of throw it in there. You’re on like a newspaper. I would knock. I would talk to them. Sometimes… there was a lady. I’m not sure what the the city was, but it was past Waldo road past out there. Where’s that past? It was going way out there. I didn’t even know that was a little city. She was out there. Her daughter was a nurse. I think her son had, I think he was visually impaired. So he was he was disabled and he had limitations. So they were they were stuck out there for a while. I remember going out there and I was coming to deliver her some food. Of course, I didn’t know that she was that far from Gainesville. So I was like, you’re in the middle of nowhere. How do you get resources, there was no delivery services. I think Amazon was just starting to transition there thing to, to drop off food and stuff. So everything was she was she was pretty much in isolation out there. And one thing that I remembered about her was, she was so grateful that the CIL even came that far, that I sat and I talked with her. She definitely suffered, or she was just dealing with depression, not knowing how to reach out to people and not knowing where her resources were gonna come from. It was a state of hope that I saw in her. It was something I think that was kind of… the best word is hope. Because a lot of people were on edge, they had so many pre-existing conditions that they were afraid to talk with anyone to reach out to anyone. It was just like, I’m staying home, I’m not going to go to the store, I’m not going to do anything. And it was just to say that there’s hope that that someone’s going to come out here that someone’s going to provide food, that someone’s going to talk to me because I sat there for like two hours and talk to them. We did the needs assessment survey. So I was able to get her connected to Meridian for some support. I think I talked to her son about getting some help with legal issues that he had regarding his disability, and what prompt that. So I was able to connect them to legal services, to Meridian, to seal with more opportunities for just ILS classes if you want it to not feel alone, but you want it some support to to get through the pandemic, maybe you could try ILS classes. So it was a lot of just connecting with people. I think that’s one of the bigger components that people miss about community is the connections you make with people, and the relationships that are built, that goes for supplies, just delivering food.

Tony Delisle  11:56

I like what you’re saying there about presence, and just being there and present with people, especially people with disabilities who already before the COVID pandemic are more likely to experience social isolation, smaller social networks, and this feeling of loneliness, which has been shown to be a killer. And the fact that, you know, yes, you have some essential resources that you can bring to people, but just making that head and heart connection with people and just being present with them. And I believe this was early on, in the pandemic, you know, a month or two early on, and the recommendations are isolate, isolate, isolate. More isolation for people that are already isolated, and to bring the value of presence to people, is just wonderful to hear that that’s another thing of value that we’re able to bring and continue to bring for people as we now are in November, as we’re recording this. I think the the mental health impact of this social isolation and loneliness is becoming better understood, and it’s reach. So I think that’s wonderful that you’re able to deliver those kinds of things. I’m interested to know, what is the importance of collaboration with different organizations in order to be able to do the services that you bring here. You know, it sounds like you work with many different types of agencies and organizations to be able to deliver some of this the essential supplies that you do or connect people, like what did what do you see being the relevance and importance of having those relationships with these organizations?

Shera Curtis  13:30

Larger numbers, I think that’s the thing. We want to connect to people, we don’t just want to do one or two, we want to do one or two, we might as well be individuals and their own, you know, sole provider thing. But we’re an organization that we’re connecting, we want to connect hundreds. We want numbers. So that’s the best way to do it is to partner with people who have more, more resources, more connections. I mean, one can put 1000 in the fight two can put 10,000. We want to make sure we expand that and make sure we can reach everyone. I think even when we go out to outreach, I’m always finding that more people need to sign up. And then my cousin who doesn’t live here, they can sign up. So if I’m connected with Gainesville housing, I can connect to not just one housing development, I can connect to five other housing developments. And I can reach five more people or five more, five more locations where people have needs opposed to just one one location that I know of. So it’s I guess it’s a numbers game. Just making sure we can reach more people and meet their needs.

Tony Delisle  14:38

I think in the military, they call it like force multipliers. You know, where we can…The idea being we’re, you know, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And you know, it takes a village and there’s all these, you know, interesting cliches and sayings that are out there, that when we do kind of come together and we can collaborate, we can reach more and do better. What do you find to be the essential skills in cultivating these kind of relationships to leverage the resources to meet the needs of the people? Like how do we get those relationships?

Shera Curtis  15:29

Patience, understanding, and transparency. A lot of it is listening, these people want to be heard, I know we’re going to talk a little bit about just how it intersects with what I see or how I’ve seen things be exposed to with people who have disabilities. And that I think that’s one of the things is being transparent, and saying, hey, I’ve gone through that same thing too. I may not be disabled, I’m black and brown, and I have the same issues you have with access. So listening to them to give genuine feedback, to build relationships to build trust, because that’s one of the biggest barriers that happens in communities is there’s no trust for outside organizations. And we’re there to do that. We’re there to build trust, we’re there to listen to them, we’re there to meet their needs. And we’re there to get their perspective on on what loss looks like, on what insecurities look like for them, or what their disparities are. I mean, there’s a lot of components that come, which is community outreach. And then from there, those bridges are built. And we want to keep it sustainable. And I think that’s one thing that I have done with the food distribution is I’ve been keeping it sustainable, or these people are looking for me, every week, every other week to come up, they’re waiting for me at the building. They’re calling to say, hey, you supposed to come at one, it’s 1:01, I don’t see you. And I’m just like, I’m right outside the parking lot. I’m coming, and they’re ready. Because they trust me, they trust us sores, they trust CIL, they know that we’re going to come. They know that we’re going to stay connected with them. And that’s how I guess that’s how the relationships start.

Tony Delisle  17:13

That’s fantastic. I like how you’re connecting trust, with transparency, being authentic. And it does take patience. Patience is a virtue. Oh, man, like, you know, we’re wanting to do things quick, fascinating in a hurry, because the needs are immense. But we can’t just show up and then expecting to know who we are and what we’re all about. They got to take that time and someone share that I find to be very authentic, very transparent, and this is who I am. And it’s just wonderful to have you out there boots on the ground, connecting with the people and building these relationships. And garnering the kind of trust that it’s priceless. That’s a value, you know, that’s it takes a lot of effort and heart to do.

Shera Curtis  17:54

That is true, it’s hard. I could speak on patience. And we have one of the issues, we had an issue out in the… it wasn’t necessarily an issue, it was more so dealing with community and knowing that sometimes you have conflict. And this was one of the great opportunities to show how you can be patient. We were doing the food distribution, and a lady had dropped her cake. And she didn’t want it, but I couldn’t take it back. And so it was just more so I can’t take it back. You can throw it in the trash, and I can give you something else. That escalated from I know that I can get another one and you’re gonna let me get another one. And I won’t set right now, I just want you to listen to me. And I was just like I am listening. But I need to just go throw it in the trash. She didn’t want to. It was just like it was just a moment where I had to be like, let me just give her what she wants. And let’s move on. So we can de-escalate this. And that was patience, because I didn’t know her logic in her approach to this. But I wanted to try to be understanding and say, You know what, whatever you need, I’m going to just do it. So we can just kind of move on and get your needs met. And so we can move on and help other people. And that was a sign of patience recently that I had to have because she stepped my face. She tried me. It was it was definitely like she was crossing boundaries. And I was I had to make sure that I was going to be patient with her that I was going to still be kind that I was going to still be professional and outreach. Those things happen more than that. You’re coming in their space. And you have to make sure you follow their rules just as much as you follow your own. And that’s a part of the trust thing. It’s still, even though I’ve been there for so many times, I’m still building trust, and relationships with each and every person. That was definitely a day for patience. Definitely a day for patience, and just being able to fall back and say, how can you make this better? How can you de-escalate this and still get the job done? And we did. We de-escalated the situation. She got what she needed. She went on about her day, and everyone else got the resources they needed as well.

Tony Delisle  19:57

Yeah, I’m glad you’re bringing that up because like anyone that works in the human services field knows that we’re working with people that are on Razor’s Edge often living on the margins, a lot of pressure, a lot of stress. So we’re meeting people, like you said, in their space at a time where they’re vulnerable. And when people are vulnerable, and they might not know who you are, they’ll project out onto you. It’ll be tough. And what I hear your response here is also not just patience, but respect, you know, having respect. And I know that’s something that you and others that work here at the center, have when people come to us, with no fault of our own, are frustrated, or disheveled, may project out onto us. But what I appreciate about you and others that work here at the center, we’re able to have that emotional intelligence, to be able to still work with people, no matter how they might be feeling, or acting, and be able to meet their needs. And that says a lot about someone that’s in your position charged with community outreach, and working with people to actually where they are. So that’s a huge part of what you do appreciate that attribute about you Shera. So if you could, you you do this essential resource distribution, a lane that Centers for Independent Living has really never done before until COVID. And, and because of COVID, now we have this opportunity to deliver resources to people that have access and functional needs. And so it’s just wonderful that our center, and there’s a good handful of centers throughout the state that are doing this as well. But you also do a lot of other things here at the center. So maybe if you could speak to some of those different areas, there’s different hats that you wear regarding some of the services that you do for the folks that we serve.

Shera Curtis  21:41

Well, I am a queen at program development. I love to come up with, if I see a need, I want to fill it. I want to fill it. And I remember when this was one of my projects, we we got the mass delivered 22,000 masks, and we were just like, oh my god, what are we gonna do with this!

Tony Delisle  22:01

This was when masks are hard to come by. Yeah.

Shera Curtis  22:03

And it was just like, we need to figure… I need to figure out a way to utilize these, get these to the people.

Tony Delisle  22:08

Literally 22,000 it was for the Florida Department of Health, thank you.

Shera Curtis  22:16

And I came up with a project it was art through PPE. So my background would I’m a teaching artist. And it was just like, I can be creative in this. And I can approach this informationally artistically, and be able to get to the communities that we need it to be informed on what COVID looks like. And it was a, it was a project for kids. So we got the masks, and I can’t wait this whole program layout on, we would give a booklet. And the booklet would be interactive. We also gave them information on you know what, what you do to prevent it? What does it look like? What does COVID even look like? You know, with kids, they’re so out of touch with reality. Sometimes, it was just like, well, kids aren’t getting it, kids aren’t dying from it. So we had to give the information on. There has been a kid that has died and has passed away in Gainesville. And what it looked like to wash your hands more to be more sanitary, to make sure your social distancing. If you’re not going to be around people that you’re around every day and knowing their routine, it’s okay to wear your mask around them. It’s okay to take those precautions. And then you can create while you’re learning. So that was one thing that I did was the Art Through PPE. And that was a way to kind of get more masks out there, especially to those who had disabilities. But those who didn’t have access to that information sometimes or weren’t receiving it the way that someone was projecting it out. So it was just a way that we can come in the community and relate to them how they knew. And one thing about some of these communities is, especially these underserved communities, they’re creative, they’re innovative, but they lack access, they lack those tools to get the information. So that was one thing that we did. I do I&R. That’s information and referral. And that could be anything.

Tony Delisle  24:09

Give me some examples like examples of I&R in the field.

Shera Curtis  24:13

There was a very active mom, she had a child who had disabilities. And she had resources, she had connections. But she was looking for more she was looking for how to transition her son when he got to an age where she was no longer going to be he was no longer going to be an adolescent where he was going to have to learn independent living skills or he was going to have to be on his own and what that looked like. So she was looking for programs that were full of resources, not a babysitting program. She was looking for a program with substance, good leadership, good program models. And I literally we were doing research together on what the programs look like comparing them to programs out-of-state. I mean, looking at grants and telling her about grant opportunities she could look into, even with how to get housing and get a like a location established where she could have a group home or transitional home and establish that herself. So I mean, I&R can start at just a simple question. Sure, it can go into research that I laid I connected this lady with, with grants with other organizations, she connected me with outsider state organizations that I didn’t even know about, that I was able to say, Hey, we don’t have this in Florida, that might be a good idea for you to kind of branch out and see what resources are available and how we can started here. Shoot, there’s, there’s a million there, there’s like a million of them. It’s from from questions to internships and, and working with students, I think that’s one of the good things. I I am a connector that is that is my gift as a… as a person. And I love letting students have the opportunity to see what real community looks like, what the heart of Gainesville looks like. And that’s one of the things that I do as well is is getting interns to come and see how they can be connected to the community through CIL. And and learn how we can help people who have disabilities, you know, reach their state of independency. And what that looks like, ideally, for on a regular basis that would just let me send you to the ILS classes every day and kind of just briefly talk to you know, we’re building relationships, I know what they’re doing on a regular, I know your mom, I know your cousin’s name. I know your auntie that lives down the street, I know about her, cuz you told me about her every time we come to class. Or if I’m out there in outreach. I’m learning about Mr. Mack, and his granddaughter, and I know his granddaughter’s grandmother, and how we make these connections. And now I come and Mack is like family, like we’re building these relationships. And that’s something that can show the students that it’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle, it’s definitely a career path. And that’s one of the things I love about just one of the opportunities I could do is internships and that development with them and relationships. What else do I do? we’re working on a grant right now, on and off, because that’s one thing. Like grants, how to expand what we already have, and make it sustainable. One big thing that that’s for me is I want to not just give people access, I want to make sure it’s sustainable for them, I want to make sure they can, it lasts for ages. And not just and we understand what true sustainability is. It’s not just the access to economics, but how they take care of their environment, how they, how they socialize, and adapt and connect with other people around them, and how that affects them. We will talk about people’s mental health and their state and how they feel and you talked about the isolation, and loneliness, we try to connect all those things and make sure we’re able to give them a complete state of independence and what that looks like and carry them to the next phase.

Tony Delisle  28:05

Yeah, I think that’s the beauty of doing information referral is that you can get calls from so many different needs. And if we think about the systems that are out there that people have to navigate, whether it’s the health system, the education system, employment systems, transportation system, housing systems, these things systems are any one of them by themselves are massive and complicated and confusing. And the fact that we have a service that can really help walk people through that system, and to do what we kind of call the warm handoff into an agency or a resource or some, some other place that it’s not here’s a number, but here’s actually like somebody that I know like you said, that I can connect you with and now can be there to connect you with. Do you need help with an application or you know, any of these other kinds of things is wonderful. Now I know you also do another service, which is our durable medical equipment closet. I didn’t know if you wanted to talk about anything that you do related to that and how that program works.

Shera Curtis  29:04

If you’re listening we have shower chairs for days, wheelchairs for days, you can come by the CIL and come pick them up. But to be serious during the durable medical equipment closet, it, we get wheelchairs, walkers, shower chairs, anything that you need for mobility purposes, we have those housed and they’re free of charge. I don’t know how many people have been so grateful as to call and say, I can’t even get around the house. And I’m just like, we have a closet that has wheelchairs or or walkers if you need that. And it’s like a life-changing thing. I think that’s what one thing I like about the CIL is these are these are real stories. These are real people are real needs and we are able to meet their needs so quickly, which is something so simple to us but seems like mountains to other people. That’s one thing I do like about the durable medical equipment closet is that we’re able to just connect people who have like substantial needs of mobility, that they’re not getting around their homes. And we can say, hey, not only can I provide you with this, I can come drop it off to your house. You’re already having mobility restrictions. So let me make this easier for you Let me do this transition for you. They fill out the paperwork, and it is literally a sheet, their name, what they’re getting. And just a signature, and they’re able to receive those, that access. And I think that’s a great thing that we offer. I think the durable medical equipment closet is is like really good. And literally now, even with thing people on a regular basis, do you need a chair? Like, not messy? Do you need a wheelchair? Do you need these things? Sometimes they do. And sometimes they’re like, I didn’t even know you had that. But I know somebody who does. So not only are we just being a resource to them, it’s it’s like a tree, we’re definitely our branches are reaching out further, we’re definitely connecting, this is why I love the fact that you brought up the partnerships. Now Gainesville housing, those that we offer the durable medical equipment closet, and they’re able to talk to not just the locations that were there, but also others that say, hey, if you have these needs, Center for Independent Living can be that resource for you. So I’m loving all that we have over here, it’s still this, it’s been a great experience, to be honest.

Tony Delisle  31:27

Well, I really love what you brought to the table in terms of your personal attributes that you really turn into your professional strengths, being able to connect with people, whether they’re the consumers that we serve, whether it’s the other agencies that we work with, like you mentioned Brenda The mighty Food Bank, that is working very closely now with our center because of the relationship that you have made with them, and understanding what we do and who we’re doing it for. Because of that, they’re allowing us to use their food to bring it to our people. And it’s that relationship is that personal connectivity and understanding what we do and why we do it. And you’re able to do that with so many different types of people from all different kinds of backgrounds, walks of life. And that is something you can’t really train in people, you got to bring that to the table. So I just want to acknowledge you for for bringing those types of skills to our center. And to be a wonderful part of the family here that does this kind of work. So I got a couple questions to wrap this up with. You’re one of our newest members you came in and February 2020. We’re recording this in November. So we’re not even be barely 10 months with you being on here. But what would you want other people to know about people with disabilities? One of the things that we’re trying to do here at The Independent Life podcast is give people lens into the world of what it’s like to have a disability. What would you want other people to know that you perhaps have learned yourself in working with people with disabilities, or just what you’re doing collaborating with relationships, or leverage resources or, or any of those other kinds of things that you’ve been doing since you’ve been here? What would you want people to know about people with disabilities, and perhaps the work that you do?

Shera Curtis  33:19

That the walk of life that they live is not too far from where you are. I’ve found a lot of intersectionality with my life, being a black and brown person.,with people who have disabilities. There are so many limitations, there are so many restrictions, but they are persistent. I think that’s the one thing that I can say and see, that are also seeing myself or in that community is they’re persistent, they are strong, they’re resilient, having to be limited with mobility, some people who don’t have ramps that come out of their homes, how they have to get out of their homes, and push wheelchairs out the door, to jump out the house and just all these maneuvers that they have to make. But that’s normal. And then they they do that, and then they go about their day, or how their their access to getting food is limited or how they can’t fill out an application and they need assistance. But they still try to make those connections I guess to to see the needs or, or meet their needs. I think it’s we aren’t that far from where they are either. So a lot of times it’s just don’t forget where you came from. These are, they’re people too, who have real needs who have really emotions. And we have to just be mindful of that and be able to be helpful. I think it’s a great thing when we can we can really connect ourselves with people and on a just a basic, humanistic thing. Just, just be kind to people. If you see someone in need and you can provide that need, be there, be that resource Whether it’s not to give them something, but to offer them another opportunity, through CIL, or whatever it is. I guess that would be my thing is to don’t forget that we are all connected as humans in some way, shape or form. And to be kind to people to learn that helping hand. You never know how it can change someone’s day, could change someone’s life, and could provide opportunities for you even in the future.

Tony Delisle  35:26

I love what you say about you know, we’re not that far. One of the things that we’re really trying to emphasize in this podcast is that disability impacts everybody, if you don’t have one, you know someone that does. If you don’t have one, you’re likely going to get one in your lifetime. And so what we put out there, and how we help each other could be coming back around to us one day as well. And I love what you said about persistence, we’re going to in these episodes get into a deep dive about the virtues and values of having a disability. And certainly the virtue and value of being persistent in life is full of challenges and obstacles that we have to be persistent in order to get over, around, under, whatever, through. Persistence is a virtue that disability provides us the opportunity to do and to be a part of so I really love that you have found that to be something that you know, is seen through people. So what does the independent life, living independently mean to you? And from the work that you have done here at the center, from the way that us you have been witnessing people and even in your own personal life? What is independent living, the independent life mean to Shera Curtis?

Shera Curtis  36:38

Freedom to do without barriers, and with access.

Tony Delisle  36:44

Barriers and access? 

Shera Curtis  36:46

No Barriers. All access.

Tony Delisle  36:49

Love it. Well Shea, it’s a it’s a pleasure to sit down and speak with you. But it’s even more of an honor to work with you doing the wonderful work that you do. Again, you never know what you’re going to be asked to provide. When you get I&R calls in it could be from like you said A to Z, you’ve carved out a very important niche that the center has never done before delivering essential resources to the people in the community where they’re at meeting them where they’re at. It’s just wonderful. And you bring in so many different perspectives to the situation that I look forward to having podcasts about you in terms of intersectionality. And what does that mean pertaining to people with disabilities who come from different backgrounds and walks of life and the different systemic challenges and barriers that exist that could be over and above and beyond what other people with disabilities may be faced with as well. To make sure that we do have that access and those barriers. So thank you so much for all that you do for our Center for all that you do for the community. And I look forward to continuing the wonderful work that you’ve been carving out with us. Thank you and this is another episode of The Independent Life. Thank you for joining us, onward and upward.

Amy Feutz  38:06

Thanks for listening to The Independent Life podcast brought to you by the Center for Independent Living of North Central Florida. If you like what you hear, please rate review and subscribe. And if you know anyone who might benefit from listening, share this podcast and invite them to subscribe to for questions, suggestions, or if you have a story you’d like to share. please email us at or call us at 352-378-7474 Thanks for joining us. Until next time, support, advocate and empower each other to live the independent life.