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About Us

Group of 10 students holds a sign that says ALERT AFTER CARE.

Last day of after-school program.


CEO Report for August 2020


Janyce Gonzalez fed 126 people during August. Her new intern Kaitlyn Painter has been a huge help in getting the food packaged for delivery!

  A mother and her teen daughter needed affordable housing and other resources to help them build a new life away from their domestic abuser. So, Terry Burke provided a list of affordable housing in their area and referred them to Life Builders, which assists with security deposits. A list of food pantries also was provided. Terry is still trying to obtain more financial assistance along with age appropriate resources for the 15-year-old. Emotional support was provided for the mother.

Anne Koebe is working with a parent of a student who received services  during his preschool years and under the developmentally disabled (DD) category. The parents said this was due to the child not talking during his preschool years. Upon dismissal from the DD program the school found him eligible for speech assistance only. The parents requested CILO intervene in getting the supports and services he needs to be successful in school. Ann thinks the student fell through the cracks and was overlooked for services. The boy was tested in 2014 and it appears that this eligibility and review of 2014 testing did not occur until 2019! In the meantime, the student has been retained and struggled continually academically. 

Amber Lott has been trying to acquire housing for a client since May. The woman has been living in a hotel room since February 2019 due to several delays with the housing authority. She was finally cleared to move-in with the use of FIND and Cares funding and was very thankful.

YT was a victim of domestic violence by her ex-partner. Even though she had taken the steps to leave him, her still sought to manipulate her through their shared children. She was suffering emotionally for years of continued physical abuse and manipulation. Then she reached out to CILO for assistance. Libby Snider got her a direct referral to Legacy for therapy and also referred her to Florida Rural Legal Service for assistance with custody matters. YT called Libby to let her know how much this assistance has meant to her. She has met with the therapist and is doing much better. 

Laura Cusack was invited to participate on a panel discussion on human trafficking on August 25th. The event was geared towards teens and hosted by Palm Beach County Victim's Services. Fourteen youth and parents attended this informative event!

After facilitating a virtual support group on How to Cope with Anxiety, Michele Sanz reached out to a participant who requested more information. After speaking to her for some time about her son, who has autism and suffers from anxiety, the woman said she found the group very informative and that gave her hope for her son. She said she was very grateful that Michele took the time to reach out to her and talk to her regarding her son, and providing her with more tools  for coping with anxiety. 

Clayton Lawson advocated for a client with autism. His mother was concerned about how her son's IEP will ensure he will get the accommodations he needs virtually because he struggles with problem-solving. At the IEP meeting, Clayton advocated for using a Rubik's cube during OT therapy sessions to promote self-independence and diversify the therapy methods being used.

Susan Carberry received a favorable decision for an SSI claim from the judge presiding over a Social Security case after a federal and 2 hearings. The client is 12 and has multiple health disabilities. The benefits will help his family meet his many needs. 

In August, Darlene Williamson worked with a parent who is Deaf to coordinate a request for accommodations for the parent to assist in this year's virtual learning. Darlene also collected and provided school supplies to defray the cost of back-to-school expenses for the family. 

Ana Pacheco received a referral regarding a victim of DUI who was left paralyzed. Ana helped her with food pantry services, a shower chair, and a hospital bed. The victim has a long recovery ahead and is thankful for CILO's assistance. 

ML, 58 contacted Joe Anderson about his need for a walked to be mobile indoors and make it easier to walk to and from the mailbox. Through our Loan Closet Program, CILO provided a rollator walker to ML. Joe also assisted ML with requesting coverage and submitting paperwork to his insurance company to have nutritional drinks covered. ML can't eat solid food the majority of the time and relies on "shakes" for adequate nutrition. 

Susan Carberry received approval for a client to receive SSDI benefit. He has mental health disabilities and was very afraid that he wouldn't be able to afford his Medicare co-payment. Susan made a referral to Rebecca Jonguitud for an application for the QMB Medicare waiver. He was processed and approved within 2 days for the waiver of the $145 Medicare premium. 

L.H was referred to CILO after needing help getting dental work done after her abuser had knocked out her teeth. We assisted the financially, and she began to feel more confident with her smile repaired. She also faced losing her home so Amber Faulhaber linked her with an agency offering grants to help elders. Amber helped her fill out the application online, and she was approved immediately. She paid for homeowner insurance bill and is now working on budgeting now that she is not stressed with financial burdens.


For the month of August, Klaudia Glavan wrapped up all three summer programs--VR, ALERT, and VISION CSC camp. She enrolled 7 new ALERT students to join the after-school program. As ALERT transitions from summer hours to after-school. Klaudia is transitioning with the program and preparing for our upcoming Thanksgiving and Winter camps! 


4,100+Lives Changed by CILO Staff 2019-2020

Amber Lott helped a client off due to the pandemic to pay 4 months of past due rent, and FPL bill and a deposit so he could get the bill transferred to his name. He's now cleared to get support from other agencies as well as removing a negative mark from his credit. The man was then transferred to other staff for assistance with food stamps and additional needs.

P.S. Without funding, in the past CILO has dipped into savings to help a few clients facing eviction over rent/utility bills. But this year Brandy Macaluso and Dan Shorter received PB County grants totaling $110,000 plus about $16,300 in St. Lucie County. In just a few months, almost 100 families have been rescued. Almost all of the grant money is gone, but we now have federal Cares Act funds to utilize and the PB County grant renews and refills our coffers Oct. 1. Many thanks to Maite Reyes-Coles for taking responsibility for getting this program going and Amber is now managing Palm Beach County and Joe Anderson in St. Lucie County.

M.Y.'s 15-year-old daughter was taken to the emergency room for vomiting and it was discovered she was pregnant by her step-father. He'd been sexually battering the minor for 2 years and threatening harm to her family if she told anyone. CILO was contacted and Libby Snider immediately began looking for resources for the family. Through the generosity of a grant from the Untied Way we're assisting the mother and daughter with their mortgage plus referrals for therapy. Libby will accompany the mother and child through the judicial process.

 P.S. When a child needs to be interviewed, especially about sex crimes, law enforcement turns to Libby, who interprets in English and Spanish and is respected in the immigrant community.

Klaudia Glavan and her staff successfully kicked off the second session of Vocational Rehabilitation camp for almost 30 youth during July while still offering our ALERT camp for lower-functioning youth in Palm Beach County and classes focused on reading and math in  St. Lucie County. This summer more than 60 youth across 6 counties received our free training to learn employability, social and independent living skills-and had a great time!

P.S. With no heads up, Vocational Rehabilitation approved virtual camps late on the Friday afternoon before the Memorial Day weekend. Within 3 weeks, Klaudia  mastered the Goggle Classroom tool, trained instructors and planned and uploaded enough lessons to get us started on what turned out to be an engaging and fun summer for youth and a badly needed respite for their parents. 

Susan Carberry filed for disabled adult child benefits based on a 30-year disability. The case went on for over 2 years before the judge ruled in the client's favor. Now the man receives $1,000 a month instead of $750 plus Medicare and Medicaid. When his elderly mom passes away, he'll receive an even larger benefit from her work credits and will inherit her estate without any problems because Social Security DAC benefits don't have an asset limit. The mother feels so much better now that he'll have a sustainable income, health insurance and will be taken care of for life.

P.S. You can't imagine how difficult and infuriating it is dealing with Social Security, especially if you're homeless or in a situation where you have a ton more need than resources. Cases are automatically dismissed. Calls and emails aren't returned. You feel helpless-until you meet Susan who this year aided 353 such clients. That's almost enough for everyday on your calendar. She won 14 cases worth $215,000 for people who $215 is a lot of money. Plus, she got them a total of $16,300 in monthly benefits. 

S.M is disabled in a wheelchair due to a stroke and can't move one side.  Her abuser damaged her wheelchair and left her unable to go anywhere, including the doctor and pharmacy. Amber Faulhaber coordinated with Victims Services and Clinics Can Help to get an automatic wheelchair delivered to her house. S.M. can now het around on her own and is living in an apartment away from her abuser. 

P.S. Amber is adept to counseling and helping victims find their path to survivorship.

Praise to Brandy Macaluso for expertly managing all staff who serve our clients plus mentoring and training about 100 interns this part year. Imagine the impact her interns from this year and past and future years will have on the needs of our and other communities. Brandy plotted and executed our transition to being a virtual office, including trainings and weekly follow-up calls with remote staff. She also recruited and hired all teachers needed for virtual camps-in a few days. And, she and Darlene still had time to persuade Palm Beach County government to make COVID-19 testing available to the homebound.

P.S. Brandy also travels to Tallahassee to train the Attorney General's staff on how to advocate and respond to the needs of those with disabilities. 

Michele Sanz collaborated with the Treasure Coast Food Bank to provide a virtual support group presentation on How to Cope with Anxiety as well as provide information on Florida KidCare. In addition, Michele facilitated 2 more virtual support group presentation, educating 33 individuals and identifying 27 victims. On top of the positive  verbal feedback, one participant took the time to write an email indicating that Michele's presentation empowered her to try and overcome her anxiety!

P.S. During  the past year, Michele has made more than 50 presentations in the Treasure Coast to at-risk youth about bullying and cyberbullying, abuse, crime victimization, scams, and safety. Her talks have led hundreds of young people to summon the courage to talk about their ordeals and then get help.

Many thanks to Maite Reyes-Coles for constantly reviewing requirements of our contracts to try and ensure we follow all requirements so we can renew our agreements. Plus, she manages our DINE program that deliveries free meals to about 40 clients.

Clayton Lawson is teaching a Deaf man who lost his job to COVID-19 about resume writing, networking, and utilizing job placement sites such as Indeed and LinkedIn. The client has applied for a few fork-lift driver jobs but has yet to get any offers. Clayton will continue working with him and also show him how to protect himself from disability discrimination in the workplace. 

P.S. Clayton is expanding our services to the Deaf in the Treasure Coast as well as assisting youth and young adults to transition from high school and college to the workplace. 

Not only does Janyce Gonzalez ensure that the office run smoothly, she also-even during the pandemic-manages the food pantry which in this past year gave meat, vegetables, bread and canned goods to 241 families, including 84 new enrollees.

Darlene Williamson called a long-time client to follow up on education advocacy and found out her son, who she relies upon for help, tested positive for COVID-19 and was quarantined. To make matters worse, their main window air conditioning unit broke down, leaving the house unbearably hot. Darlene consulted with Brandy Macaluso regarding  resources, and then collaborated with Ana Pacheco and intern Gabrielle Philemon to assist with a financial assistance application. The request was approved and a few days later, an AC unit was delivered to the home. 

P.S. Darlene manages our educational advocacy team, which sadly has to intercede for hundreds of children every year who're being denied aid they're legally guaranteed to thrive at school.

A Treasure Coast student with a mild disability was surprised to get 2 failing grades for not turning all work in. The parent and student tried contacting the teachers in late May and early June and got no response from either one.  The parent reached out to the principal, guidance counselor, and even an ESE specialist with the district and received no responses. During early July the parent was becoming increasingly frustrated because the youth wanted to participate in fall sports and would be ineligible with failing grades. Anne Koebe wrote the principal who agreed to clear the boy for extra-curricular activities until the situation could be resolved with the teachers. We're confident the student's grades will be updates with all of the work he's completed. 

P.S. After 25+ years working in the Martin County school system, Ann has joined us to speak out for the needs of children with disabilities and their families. 

The sister of a victim of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon contacted Ana Pacheco upset that her brother had to sleep in the floor since his bed was damaged in the attack. In fewer than 10 minutes, Ana contacted Sarah Murphy and coordinated for a bed to be delivered in a few days. During another follow-up call with a victim of domestic violence staff learned there was no food in the home and the refrigerator didn't work. Ana scheduled a food pantry delivery through Janyce Gonzalez and arranged for a refrigerator to be dropped off the same week. In these like many cases, several staff collaborated to handle not just these issues but other client needs as well.

P.S. Ana excels at after-care such as obtaining equipment a client requires and transportation to the doctor, court, etc.

A client contacted Rebecca Jonguitud for financial assistance and, while Rebecca completed a Needs Assessment, she saw he qualified for other CILO services. The client was laid off due to the coronavirus and is living on $300 in Social Security. Rebecca got him approved for $194 in food stamps and a $145 waiver for his Medicare premium payments. 

P.S. Rebecca handles most of CILO's food stamp and Medicare applications. Last year 99 clients received about $14,300 in monthly food stamps and 50 people got about $6,500 worth of monthly Medicare benefits.

Kudos to Petra Pitkonen for another perfect audit and managing all things financial to the satisfaction of our board, contract monitors and funding partners.

Laura Cusack and several interns led weekly groups with middle school and high school youth at the Milagros Center. Topics included human trafficking, vulnerabilities, negative pulls, cyberbullying/bullying, coping with anxiety, trafficker recruitment tactics, and empathy vs. sympathy vs. apathy. Hundreds of victims were identified in these sessions and referred for follow-up.

P.S. Laura came to us during June, and despite the pandemic, has already made presentations to 30+ organizations and three state conference and identified 300+ victims. As president of the Human Trafficking Coalition, she ensures CILO is at the forefront of offering services to many kinds of victims.

Joe Anderson worked a case prior to the holidays where a man and his spouse needed a ramp installed because it was getting too difficult for them to navigate their back steps. Joe filled out a financial assistance application and contacted a contractor. Little did he know, the contractor hired a laborer to complete the job. When Joe showed up to follow up with the couple, he noticed the ramp and railings were unfinished, too narrow and not to code. Joe contacted the builder who quickly blamed the laborer he hired. Joe wnt back and forth for weeks with the contractor who assured Joe and the clients that he fired the laborer and would personally come out as soon as he could to finish the ramp. Meanwhile, an insurance adjuster gave the clients a deadline to complete the work with a permit or tear it down. That's when the contractor stopped answering Joe's calls and blocked his messages. So Joe connected with Veteran Services in Okeechobee, a builder and another non-profit that helps veterans. A lumber yard donated the wood. The builder tore down the old ramp, built a new one to code and left a small gap so it would be considered a non-permanent structure requiring a permit. All of this was done at no cost to CILO or the couple.

P.S. From putting up shutters just before a hurricane or arranging desperately needed home modifications, Joe goes the extra mile to help his clients. And, he manages the Treasure Coast Loan Closet for adaptive equipment. 

Alberto Marquez could not afford an exam for glasses and his insurance refused to cover it. So, Irene Sirois got him a voucher for a free examination and glasses. A week later he could see clearly again.

P.S. Irene is the go-to-counselor for hundreds of Deaf and hard-of-hearing clients, who depend on her for assistance getting jobs, intrepreting and arranging doctor and other critical referrals and appointments.

Terry Burke provided a young woman escaping a life if domestic abuse with resources for affordable living, career resources and child care assistance for her baby when she gets a job. A referral for counseling was also provided along with resources for victim compensation relocation assistance. 

P.S. The police call Terry when they have a victim of trauma, especially involving domestic violence. They know she's an expert and victims feel comfortable with her. 

William Genem got a victim of domestic violence a temporary restraining order within 2 days, an attorney to represent her at a hearing and a therapy referral. William also arranged for locks to keep the abuser out of her Belle Glade house. She revealed to William that the man had been stealing her Social Security payments and that she couldn't stop the deposits because her ID expired and she couldn't open an account to redirect the deposits. He ensured the money was sent in paper checks until she opened a bank account. The crime was reported to the fraud department and measures were taken to block the man. Williams continues to ensure the woman receives all the services she's entitled too. 

P.S. With passion and tenacity, William refuses to give up when it comes to obtaining housing, food or anything one of his clients and their families need.

J. and Sarah Murphy meet three times a week to work on an online typing program and build phone etiquette skills. J. has grown more confident when talking to "customers" over the phone on mock phone calls. She's practicing how to best serve clients no matter what emotions they're expressing when they walk in or call. Aside from the amazing strides she's made with being comfortable on the phone and increasing her words per minute. J. has opened up and let her bubbly personality shine during ZOOM meetings.

P.S. Sarah was one of about 100 interns Brandy hired and mentored this past year. Sarah was one of the best and turned her internship into a job with CILO.

Joseph R. Fields, Jr., Esq., President
Fields Legal, LLC

Ellen Feir, Esq. Vice President

Lisa Kline Goldstein, Esq. Secretary

Steve G. Vlahakis, Treasurer

Scott Shoemaker


Dennis Stevenson
Palm Springs Leisure Services

Lisa Sanders
Medical Transportation Management (MTM), Inc

Derek T. Horne
Palm Beach County Office of Equal Opportunity


Dan E. Shorter


Petra Pitkonen
561-966-4288 ext. 113


Chief Programming Officer
Brandy Macaluso
561-966-4288 ext. 118

Director of Quality Assurance
Maite Reyes-Coles
561-966-4288 ext. 103


Youth Coordinator
Daniel Cadorette
561-966-4288 ext. 121


During October 1989, a grass roots group of individuals with disabilities and representatives of key Palm Beach County agencies created the Coalition for Independent Living Options, Inc., (CILO) as an advocacy organization for children and adults with disabilities. CILO incorporated during January 1990 and elected a board of directors. Its inception and growth paralleled the passage and early implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. CILO has “grown up” with the ADA and comfortably carries out its role as the primary local source of ADA information.

CILO’s mission is “Promoting Independence for People with Disabilities.”

The purpose of CILO is twofold – to assist individuals with disabilities in reaching their goals for independence and to create societal change to promote acceptance and opportunities for people with disabilities to be fully included in all aspects of community life. To that end, CILO provides a broad range of services for persons of any age with any type of disability in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, and Okeechobee counties.

The majority of CILO’s staff and board members have disabilities.

Together we assisted more than 5,000 families in the past year -- for free!
2018 Annual Report