It is one of our 2018 goals to engage every single Independent Living Center in Northern California, and NorCal SCI co-founder, Nick Struthers, took the opportunity to drop in on the San Luis Obispo (SLO) office of Independent Living Resource Center to meet the team there. This ILRC actually has been around for 40 years, has four offices covering three counties: San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura. Nick had previously contacted Jerry Mihaic who is Information and Referral Specialist in the office and Jerry extended a warm invitation to Nick to spend time with the team in SLO.
Jerry made me feel very welcomed when I arrived at the ILRC office in SLO and introduced me to Michael Larsen who is the Assistive Technology Advocate. Jerry gave me a brief overview of the tri-county structure and explained some of the core programs that the organization offers. Every ILC has a different area of focus and it was clear that this office had evolved differently to support a more rural as well as an aging demographic compared to the ILCs in the suburban areas. Having grown up in SLO County, Michael is very well-connected and was very knowledgeable on the resources provided by the large educational establishments such as Cal Poly State University and Cuesta Junior College. We were later joined by Community Living Advocate, Nicole Janikowski, who gave an overview of some of the programs specifically designed to help the more senior members of the population. Interestingly, the SLO team was not aware of the SLO Access Support Group and was excited to connect with Mae MacDonald who coordinates the Group which would enhance their Peer Support Initiatives.
Jerry then informed me of some important organizations that could potentially benefit the community, including the Noor Foundation that provides medical, vision and dental services at no cost to uninsured adults in the county. Another organization is Wilshire Community Services which supports individuals and families throughout San Luis Obispo County facing challenging circumstances and difficult life transitions.
The key take away from ILRC SLO was their knowledge of local services and volunteer organizations which they can pass this information on to their "consumers" who could benefit from these resources. I'd like to thank the entire SLO team for their time and we are excited to collaborate with them to support the SCI community in SLO County.