Center on Independent Living

Established in 1985, the Center on Independent Living has guided and assisted people with severe physical disabilities in learning how to live independently. While compassion for this group is at the core of COIL, it is through the setting of goal driven, proactive solutions that help define the skills necessary to become a member of a community.
Through evaluation and development of individual needs, COIL reaches out, encompassing many areas of physical disabilities. Over the years, COIL has expanded to help not only those with congenital (birth) disabilities, but also those with acquired (accident, disease, age) disabilities.
COIL passionately believes that all people should have the opportunity to belong and be accepted by a community. Living independently instead of being institutionalized can bring about many changes to ones life.
COIL's philosophy draws from the collective desires of all people to become independent of restraints and to live a meaningful life.


Centering on Individual Lives

An Overview

COIL provides services and support systems needed to promote community integration/inclusion and self-sufficiency for individuals with significant physical disabilities.
The progression/achievement rate among these adults is remarkably high. Most are able to live independently. Many obtain employment while others contribute to their community through various volunteer activities. But of major importance is an overall improvement in the quality of their lives.
In addition to community integration, COIL offers training, relocation services, system navigation, problem solving and planning services for families, service providers, and various local and state agencies. COIL takes great pride in their work with the Department of Veteran Affairs through its in-home evaluation and on-going support for our country’s veterans. COIL provides an accessibility evaluation of home, businesses and public venues.
COIL is now concluding its second decade and continuing to expand services as resources permit. The programs is recognized across the state as a champion for the invisible minority, and it’s the only one of its type in Texas. COIL is recognized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, social service organization by the Internal Revenue Service.

Historical Perspective

COIL was founded in 1985 by four sets of parents who wanted something more for their adult children who had physical disabilities. At that time, only two options were available: nursing home or group home. Because most of these individuals were capable of managing their own affairs, neither option was acceptable.
In the beginning, help came from the Texas Rehabilitation Commission (TRC), the Southwest Research Institute, and the Children’s Association for Maximum Potential (CAMP). In 1988, upon the completion of extensive preparatory training, the first COIL group of nine persons moved into independent housing. Since then, with COIL’s guidance, hundreds have settled into independent housing.

Outlook for the Future

With the passage of the American Disabilities Act in 1990, any person with a disability became entitled to the same opportunities afforded any other person. Planned construction must now include access to persons with disabilities. While light years away from an ideal situation, persons with disabilities now have access to greater opportunities on all fronts than they did a few short years ago.
But the simple passage of a law and a society more aware and sensitive to the needs of all citizens are not adequate guarantors of equal opportunity for COIL’s service community, whether past, present, or future. COIL must research, rebuild, relocate, refine, and retrain. These requirements, although being essential to the delivery of quality services, take much more than the commitment of caring, concerned parents and professionals. They also take time and they take money.

Who Supports COIL’s Service Community?

In the past, most of COIL’s financial support came from state agencies, which COIL serves on a contract-referral basis and from a grant from the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation. Today, in addition to serving Bexar and the surrounding counties, COIL provides services statewide and has a strong tie to our country’s veterans. Lackland Air Force Base has adopted COIL and provides support, in the form of office space, utilities and communication, so the organization can continue to serve local military families and retirees as well as local San Antonio residents.
As program participants learn to deal with the challenges they face in living on their own, some for the first time, COIL staff is there to help. Imagine requiring help to get dressed; to drive an automobile; prepare a meal; or losing the ability to work because of a disability. Imagine total dependence on others for routine daily activities. COIL helps individuals with disabilities gain independence by becoming managers of the people who provide their assistance.
Maintaining independence is difficult for many individuals with disabilities. Available funding has allowed COIL to help individuals with disabilities transition into independent homes in the community.
There is no state or federal funding for COIL’s program to provide on-going support after the initial transition. Funds are still needed to improve the way COIL ascertains how well individuals are adapting to independent living. Are they safe? Happy? Healthy? Employed? What supplementary training is needed to ensure long-term success? We are not talking about continuous assistance but rather providing a safety net for those individuals who have occasional problems with their support system. Donations to COIL help provide the assistance needed to avert the crisis, saving taxpayer dollars in the long run.
People in a COIL program experience many needs at various stages in their pursuit of independence. Some require at least partial assistance for their lifetime. What COIL has learned and proved repeatedly in 20 years of service is abundantly clear- the quality of life of virtually every program participant has been dramatically improved.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 19 April 2011 )

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