We would like to Thank Mayor Joe Schember for taking time to visit our office and meet with our staff. The Mayor is pictured with our CEO Shona Eakin and Jess Molczan who is our Liaison to the Mayor’s Disability Round Table. Thanks again Mayor Schember !!
We are once again teaming up with Highmark for their annual Walk at Presque Isle on Saturday, June 2nd
Click on the picture if you would like to walk with one of our teams starting at Beach 11.
You can also make a donation and help us reach our goal.
You can now purchase your EMTA Lift tickets at Voices for the standard price of $2.90 per ticket. Just stop at the front desk to inquire.
If you live in the Seneca area be sure to stop in our new office and say Hello to the staff where they can answer all your questions regarding our programs or services. We are located at 3798 State Route 257. If you’re unable to stop but want information, feel free to contact us at (814) 493-8693. You can also email your questions to Lynn at Lhartzell@vficil.org
We have been informed that an entity has been using our name to attempt to solicit funds which we are NOT affiliated with. Should you receive an email from ROBERT.BROWN@VOICESFORINDEPENDENCE.ORG asking for a donation, please disregard and DO NOT respond. It is an attempt to misrepresent our organization and solicit funds by using our organization name.
We are in no way associated with ROBERT.BROWN@VOICESFORINDEPENDENCE.ORG
David Steinhauer was born and raised in Erie and graduated from Tech Memorial where he learned the trade of bricklaying. After graduation he joined the Bricklayers Union and eventually became a journeyman bricklayer. David went on to work in bricklaying for the next 23 years. Throughout that time David met his wife Kathy and they moved to Sheffield where David started his own business called Forest County Masonry. His business was his life until March 24, 2014 when he suffered a stroke that caused him to tumble down a flight of stairs which also caused a Traumatic Brain Injury.
David’s prognosis was bleak as the stroke caused severe damage to the right side of his brain which resulted in left sided paralysis. His medical team did not expect David to walk again or use his left side. However with Kathy by his side they refused to listen to his Doctors and 21 months later David was well enough to go home. Once home Kathy bought David a wood burning set for Christmas one year and his zeal for creating beautiful art was ignited. His passion continuously challenges him as he grows stronger and gains more muscle control daily. He has given his art work a name called C.A.B.A which stands for Crash and Burn Artwork. When asked why, David replies “because I crashed and burned.”
David may not be able to do bricklaying again but his love for creating beautiful artwork on wood has given him a new sense of appreciation and makes him feel good about things. David would like to tell others, “if anyone has suffered a stroke or TBI, hang in there”. “I didn’t think his life could get as good as it is now but it has and will continue to get better.”
Hello Everyone, It is no secret that Voices for Independence (VFI) has grown a lot in the 16 years I have had the privilege to serve as the Executive Director. I truly want to thank the consumers, attendants, staff and Board of Directors for working alongside of me to make VFI what it is today. Almost 10 years ago, we moved our office to its current location at 1107 Payne Avenue. That move allowed us to get people with disabilities actively involved, offering more programs, services and activities. I had a dream of making VFI a place where people could connect with other people, share experiences; make changes in their lives and the community around them. I am happy to say I think we accomplish that every day. We have grown a lot, so in order to provide the services and activities that we always have, plus more, we need more space. We are moving to 1432 Wilkins Road, formerly Vernondale Elementary School. It is on a bus line and serviced by LIFT. We anticipate being moved by Fall of 2017. Construction should begin in January of 2017. The 33,000 square foot building will be renovated to be made completely accessible. The large classrooms will be turned into offices. A new larger fitness center will be created with shower facilities. The building sits on five and a half acres of property which will allow us to do much more outdoors. We will have a designated training space for attendants and more room for Mid-Day Café – just to name a few items to get excited about. We will continue to operate at our current location as our new building is being renovated. We do not intend any disruption of service except for moving week. As the building progresses we will update you on Facebook.
If you have any questions do not hesitate to ask.
Thanks again for the opportunity to serve you. I look forward to an exciting future!
My name is Barbara McMaster, I was born near Greenville PA and I have Cerebral Palsy The disease was a real challenge for me and my family but they were all very supportive and helped me along in life. When I was twelve years old, my mother passed away from a heart attack at the age of Fifty one years old. I was devastated! My father took care of me until I graduated from high school. At age Twenty I decided to move out on my own. My independence was short lived with very little support for me so I ended up in a nursing home. That experience was a nightmare for six months I felt very trapped there. I was not allowed any independence at all. My Aunt Velma saw my dilemma and contacted an agency in Erie PA called Voices For Independence. Soon after which I moved to Erie to start a supportive independent life. It is wonderful! With the help of voices I have my own apartment, I have a bank account where I manage my own money, I can go where I want to when I want to. Voices also connected me with the Office Of Vocational Rehab (OVR). With their help I have been able to get assistive technology equipment. My OVR counselors, Jeff Gross and Roger Little organized and taught me how to use the equipment and to follow my dream of being a photographer. I know I still have lots of work to do.
Purple. It is my favorite color (just look at my shoelaces). Hi. My name is Emily Eckert. I was born with Cerebral Palsy and I communicate using a communication board. I love New Year’s, but not just for the party. Every January, I celebrate my freedom and Independence. January was the month ten years ago that I set myself free from a group home with the assistance and support of the staff at Voices for Independence. Ever since that day, I have lived independently in my own home. I have personal care attendants who come into my home every day to assist me with getting out of bed and achieving activities of daily living such as bathing and getting dressed.
I was adopted only a few days after I was born. Despite my parents being over-protective of me and not agreeing with my desire to live independently, one day I decided that I was tired of the routine of living in a group home and I mustered up the courage to stand up to my parents. Since making the decision to live independently, I have been blessed to appreciate life as an independent adult. Although living independently has been an adjustment for me, I am truly happy. I can proudly say that I am a work in progress and I do not let my disability get in the way of my hopes and dreams.
I truly believe that living independently has allowed me to be as free as a butterfly in the breeze. I am able to do whatever I want, whenever I want and however I want. I still have many goals that I would like to achieve during my life, but independence was my ultimate goal. With the support of others with disabilities at Voices for Independence, who could truly understand my fear of living independently, I was able to overcome my fear and achieve independent living. I thank God for showing me that my thoughts and desires matter and for giving me the gift of accomplishing my goals and dreams. One day, I want to be an actress. In the meantime, I am thankful for my past struggles for giving me the strength to be the person I have become and I look forward to whatever the rest of my life has in store for me. If you are not sure if you can do something, remember me. I did it even when people doubted me. You can, too.