February Success Stories

During February CILO participated in the Great Charity Challenge, sponsored by Fidelity Investments. CILO was one of a select few local nonprofits chosen by lottery to participate in this year’s equestrian event celebrating Heros. Our relay riders focused on pandemic heroes -- grocery store workers…the ones who keep us fed! We are thankful to our team sponsor, Rock Ridge Farms, our corporate sponsor Canadian Pacific Railway and the Great Charity Challenge staff.

Our talented team featured Gigi Moynihan, Andrea Towriss and Simon McCarthy and placed 5th overall in the event out of 23 groups, earning CILO a grant award of $70,000! Darlene Williamson and Susan Carberry attended the event to represent CILO and cheer on our riders.

Thanks also to Janyce Gonzalez and Elizabeth Corsi, who also served on the planning committee. It was an honor for CILO to be a part of this year’s challenge!

Janyce Gonzalez has been working with a victim of a horrific crash that left him hospitalized for weeks. After being released, he had nowhere to go and no money because someone he trusted was stealing from him. Janyce arranged for him to receive pantry food. “Thank you for caring for me,” he told Janyce.

Amber Lott received a call from a 77-year-old woman who needed help with move-in costs. She had no access to a computer to complete the required paperwork and didn’t have two weeks to wait and receive it by mail. Her eviction was one week away. Amber completed some of the application over the phone, and then William Genem printed it for the client’s signature. The application was approved 24 hours prior to the eviction. Intern Lee Anne began contacting churches to try and find help with moving since all funds were exhausted at agencies we often turn to. Then Amber received a call from the landlord to discuss how and when payment would be received. She asked if he knew of anyone who could assist with the move, and he said he did and would pay for it. Too often clients have to leave so much behind when they run out of time with evictions. This client and her daughter have been in this rental for over 40 years. Janyce will also be setting up a food delivery for the first week in their new home.

JV needed an eye examination and new eyeglasses, but she could not afford them. Irene Sirois helped her type an email to a clinic requesting a free exam and glasses since her insurance would not cover. The clinic referred her to Lenscrafters for a free examination and glasses. A week after her appointment with an ophthalmologist she received her glasses.

Susan Carberry’s client DW filed for SSDI after losing her job 2 years ago due to multiple disabilities. She was denied. Susan filed a request for reconsideration and hoped she would beat the odds by being approved without attending a hearing. The process took almost 2 years, but DW recently received about an $1,800-a-month benefit. No hearing, no need to pay an attorney a portion of her retroactive benefits. As her claim wound its way through the process, DW was diagnosed with other disabilities and also ended up in the hospital on a ventilator due to COVID-19.

PC left her life behind in Jamaica and came to the United States to marry the father of her children. He agreed to apply for her to have legal status. But once she came to the United States and married him her life became hell. He became very abusive psychologically and sexually. He never hit her because he knew the criminal consequences. He would taunt her with being deported to Jamaica after she left everything for him. Libby Snider got PC a referral to an agency that gave her mental health counseling for free, provided her family with rent money and will be assisting her to write her victim impact statement for the court to consider at sentencing.

YJ called and needed food while waiting for her food stamps. Rebecca Jonguitud applied for her food stamps and signed her up for the DINE program for meal deliveries while she waits for the approval to come through. She is now receiving weekly boxes of frozen meals delivered to her door.

During February, Klaudia Glavan started taking and processing CARES applications and providing services to clients who have been impacted by COVID-19 on the Treasure Coast. She processed three rent & utility assistance applications and delivered pantry food to several families.

Michele Sanz facilitated a disability sensitivity awareness training for the staff of our partners at LAHIA. The staff were grateful as the training which answered several questions regarding clients with disabilities and the laws that protect them. Michele also organized a peer support group presentation on elder financial abuse and scam awareness for the Our House agency, where 12 victims were identified. The participants found the presentation informative and helpful, and shared their experiences with fraud and scams during the group session.

A mother of three had to place her children with their dad to get back on her feet. Their father later remarried, and for three years the father and stepmother kept the children from communicating with their mother. The pre-teens didn’t own cell phones or visit with their mother who lives in Fort Lauderdale. The three children were locked in their rooms all day and allowed to be out for only four hours at a time. They were tied up and starved for days as well. The 16-year-old is so malnourished that she appears much younger. She passed out and was taken to the hospital where she went into a coma. The mother was called by the law enforcement to inform her of her daughter’s condition. Their father and stepmother were arrested, so their mother plans to move them to Fort Lauderdale once her daughter is released from the hospital. The other children are temporarily staying with their grandmother. Terry Burke obtained crisis intervention counseling. The 16-year-old is out of the coma, but the doctor believes she may have brain damage due to the severe abuse. A hot meal was provided to the mother who had no way to go buy food. Transportation and other resources were also provided to the family.

Ann Koebe was asked to assist grandparents of an autistic grandson who is struggling in school. Before she got involved with the case there was an evaluation done and the school found the student ineligible for any special education programming and gave him a section 504 plan in lieu of an eligibility for special education. The mental health counselor involved with the case referred the grandparents to Ann to try to help him get an eligibility for special education. Ann met with a director of a charter school, the grandparents and the counselor trying to get a placement at that school for this student. We will continue to work through the process to get the appropriate placement/programming.

Jaslynne Mitchell has started working for CILO full-time by assisting the Independent Living Department. She will be following up with many of our SAIL Program clients who are not fully enrolled due to missing paperwork. She also will be spear-heading the Youth Leadership Council, a new requirement under our State Plan for Independent Living. She continues her prior positions with us as ALERT youth aide and VR camp youth aide.

Darlene Williamson represented CILO at the virtual 5K event hosted during February. CILO’s inaugural run was initially postponed last year due to COVID-19 and rescheduled Feb. 27th with a virtual race. This run celebrated the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Darlene worked the outreach table presenting runners with information about CILO services and engaged event participants and onlookers on how to support our agency.