Alliance of Disability Advocates to serve Beaufort County and surrounding areas
Published 9:00 am Wednesday, November 15, 2023
Alliance of Disability Advocates (ADANC) is expanding their services for people with disabilities into Beaufort, Wilson and Pitt Counties.
ADANC is a nonprofit organization out of Raleigh who assists people with disabilities in five surrounding counties to achieve independent living in communities of their choice. It is a federally recognized Center for Independent Living that was created in 1999. It is operated predominantly by people with disabilities who work to bring awareness to disability rights and the benefits of independent living. Those who use ADANC are in control of the services they receive and make decisions about their lives, education and employment.
Ashley Large, a regional manager at the Greenville ADANC office and Emily Kibler, an outreach coordinator for ADANC shared about what services the organization will provide in Beaufort, Wilson, and Pitt Counties.
ADANC’s mission is to empower people with disabilities and take active roles in getting services that will improve their lives, Kibler explained.
To ADANC, any person with an intellectual, developmental or physical disability or any neurodivergent person or anyone who struggles with mental health can contact the organization for assistance. Assistance spans independent living, information and referrals, peer support, getting more involved in the community, receiving more education, applying for employment. The goal is to have people with disabilities advocating for themselves and their needs, she continued.
People with disabilities who use assistance from ADANC are called consumers and services offered by ADANC are free to consumers.
Consumers have community inclusion specialists who help them advocate for themselves. Most community inclusion specialists also have disabilities which is an added level of peer support. One of the primary ways community inclusion specialists support consumers is through transition from living at an institution, adult care home or nursing home into independent living.
This also includes helping people successfully transition out of the prison system and into their community.
“Those are really hard transitions if you don’t have someone to support you,” Kibler said.
In everyday life, this support can look like helping consumers who want to learn how to cook, find cooking classes or learn how to use a local transportation system. Support is tailored to each consumer’s needs.
ADANC serves about 1,000 consumers. ADANC did not have a projected number of consumers they could serve in Beaufort County. Anyone with a disability or anyone who knows someone who can benefit from ADANC is encouraged to make a referral, Large said.
“We rely on the person with the disability to ask for help,” Large said. “We don’t go out and look for a projected number. That’s part of our philosophy to empower people. We want people in Beaufort County to know we are available.”
When asked if Eastern North Carolina, Beaufort County included, had an underserved population of people with disabilities, Kibler said, “I’m pretty sure if you asked that question anywhere, the answer is ‘yes.’ Especially when it comes to rural counties – the answer is ‘absolutely yes.”
In North Carolina there are seven Centers for Independent Living that serve 51 counties out of 100 counties statewide, according to Large. Beaufort, Wilson and Pitt Counties are included in that statistic.
People with disabilities in an underserved population in Eastern North Carolina, in part, because there is little housing available for them to rent or purchase. Workforce and affordable housing in Beaufort County has been an ongoing issue that not only affects people without disabilities. It is a greater challenge for people with disabilities.
“Housing is and always has been and likely will always be one of our biggest challenges. It is absolutely one of the most limiting factors toward independent living,” Kibler said. This applies to people who want to live independently, but there are few housing options that are affordable and accessible. For instance, a person in a wheelchair may see that an apartment is available, but it’s on the second level and there is no elevator, Kibler illustrated.
ADANC works with housing authorities to help consumers find appropriate housing.
Large said there is a “huge need” for affordable and accessible housing in rural counties.
“I get so mad when I am driving, and I see all of these new developments with houses and apartments. You just know they are affordable or accessible,” Large said.
To make a referral, visit www.adanc.org/referral/ and fill out the referral form. For more information, call 919-833-1117 and ask to talk to the Information and Referral Services Manager.