Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday

The 2023 hurricane season is almost here, so be sure to get prepared and save some money too while you gather supplies! There will be not one, but two 14-day disaster preparedness sales tax holidays in Florida in this year! The first is coming up, running May 27 th through June 9 th , and the second will be from August 26 th through September 8 th . The second tax-free holiday is new this year and comes right before the busiest period of hurricane season.

Some examples of tax-free items include: flashlights and lanterns costing $40 or less; reusable ice costing $20 or less; radios costing $50 or less; tarps and ground anchors or tie down kits costing $100 or less; coolers and portable power banks costing $60 or less; batteries and fuel tanks costing $50 or less; smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors costing $70 or less; and generators costing $3,000 or less.

The holiday also includes a number of items related to the safe evacuation of household pets. Common household consumable items that may helpful with disaster cleanup are also included. For example, laundry detergent, toilet paper and paper towels, soap, sunscreen, and various household cleaning products, with a sales price of $30 or less.

For more details, please click on the link below:

ID: Graphic includes the information shared above, along with a photo of emergency supplies next to a clipboard with an emergency preparation checklist

Emergency Preparedness Webinar: June 1st @ 1pm – 3pm EST

Are you ready for hurricane season? Please join us for some fun and a virtual presentation about how to prepare before and after a disaster, with a chance to win a $20 gift card! All are welcome and interpreters will be provided.

The event is hosted by the CIL and Deaf and Hard of Hearing Centers (Ocala, Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, Pensacola and Ft. Myers), and will take place on Thursday, June 1st from 1pm to 3pm Eastern (12pm Central), with guest speaker, Jenny Locy, BA Marketing and Training Director. Please check out her bio below!

Jenny obtained her Associate of Arts from the St. Petersburg College in Clearwater, FL, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Florida in Tampa. Jenny has become one of the first two Deaf persons in the state of Florida to become a FEMA CERT Instructor. She holds her PADI Rescue Diving certification as well as Emergency First Response/First Aid and CPR. She collaborates with Florida CERT Programs and Emergency Operation Centers, providing access to disaster preparation and relief for individuals who are Deaf and hard-of-hearing. Jenny is also a constant advocate to major media companies to keep sign language interpreters on camera during and after press releases.

To join the webinar, please click on the link below: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/89752926824?pwd=ZS91OEFSZGtQZnFtSENzVnVBNU5LQT09

Or go to: https://zoom.us/join

Please contact Colleen Metcalf, CIL Consumer Specialist in our Ocala office, at VP: 352-414-1833 with any questions about the event. We hope to see you there!

For technical difficulties or to practice Zoom, please contact Monique Roussell at VP: 904-508-0077 or e-mail at mroussell@ciljacksonville.org

ID: Graphic has a background image of an emergency service worker during a disaster, with a blue overlay over the image. “Are you prepared?” is written in white with a purple background. Underneath reads “How to prepare for disasters: Before and after webinar”. The date and time of the event is written in white with a green background. “Interpreter Provided” is written in white directly underneath with sign language hands on both sides of the text.

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.

HSHT Bento Fundraiser!

You’re Invited! Eat, drink and give at BENTO Archer, 3841 SW Archer Road TOMORROW on Thursday, May 11th , 2023! The fundraiser will take place ALL DAY, so you have time to stop by for lunch or dinner to help us raise funds for our High School High Tech (HSHT) program that serves youth with disabilities. Bento will give back 20% of fundraiser sales when you mention the Center for Independent Living of North Central Florida at checkout or use code Independent when you order online. We hope to see you there!

ID: Background includes a variety of Bento food dishes, with the Bento logo at the very bottom that has a red curved background and white border. The white wording on top of the food dishes reads, “Help us reach our goal! Bento will give 20% back of fundraiser sales.”

THANK YOU Marion and Alachua County Emergency Preparedness Expo donors and vendors!

We’re sending a big THANK YOU to all of our amazing Marion and Alachua County Emergency Preparedness Expo donors and vendors!!

Thank you also to our wonderful venue hosts, One Health Center for Marion County and Santa Fe College for Alachua County! We couldn’t have offered these events without all of your support and we are so very grateful. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities in the Marion and Alachua County communities!

Herr’s Chips
Sam’s Club
Jimmy Johns
Dunkin Donuts
United Healthcare Community Plan
Developmental Service Trainers

Dunkin Donuts
Sam’s Club


Disability Rights Florida; Agency for Persons with Disabilities; Ocala Police Department; Marion County Sheriff’s Office; FAAST; American Red Cross; Marion Senior Services; Ocala Electric Utility; Aetna; Human Potential Healthcare; Heart of Florida Health Center; Developmental Service Trainers (DST); Cano Health Ocala; Ocala Fire Rescue; Select Laboratories of Marion County; Champion for Champions,

Inc; Alzheimer’s Association; Florida Department of Health Marion; Home Care, Recharged; SERVPRO of Ocala; Hands Up Communication; U.S. Congresswoman Kat Cammack; Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida; One Health Center


Disability Rights Florida; FAAST; Regional Transit System (RTS); Alachua County Emergency Management; Santa Fe College; Disabilities Resource Center; Community Hospice and Palliative Care; Alachua County Supervisor of Elections; SERVPRO of East Gainesville; Elder Options; American Red Cross; Clay Electric Cooperative; North Florida/South Georgia VA Hospital; Gainesville Fire Rescue; MV Transportation, Inc; UF Health

ID: graphic pictured has a red background with the text “Thank you so much” written in white in the center. Above are four images: a heart with a vital sign, a stethoscope, bandages, and an ambulance. The CILNCF logo is on the bottom center of the graphic.

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.