January Success Stories

January was a slower month but Amber Lott, Stephanie Paniagua, and Tara Turine were still able to provide $16,242 worth of financial assistance to PBC residents. 2 of the families we assisted were living in hotel rooms and we were able to provide move-in assistance to help get them into housing.

Susan Carberry Received favorable decision from judge last week. MM was a public-school teacher for almost a decade when he suddenly developed schizophrenia in his 30’s. Multiple hospitalizations followed, and we have been in the appeals process for 2 years. He will receive 2+years of retroactive benefits and Medicare coverage.

Michele Sanz has been busy this month making connections with community organizations to arrange support groups in the new year. A Disability Sensitivity Training has been scheduled for our MOU partners over at LAHIA, as well as multiple other presentations throughout the coming months. New presentation topics are also in the works, in order to bring in new interested agencies, and I expect this to bring more awareness of CILO and the services that we provide for victims to the community.

DB fled for her life to be with her mom here in Florida. She fled a man who was physically abusive and attempting to get a passport to sell her son to Human traffickers in Colombia. Her son has severe intellectual and developmental issues and was also affected by all the violence. DB reached out to Libby Snider for assistance with victim services, educational services and assistance with social security. We were able to assist her with getting a mental health counselor and referred her to an agency to assist with getting herself and her mom into a new bigger apartment. Darlene and Ann were able to assist her with information regarding getting him in the correct program, bus etc. Susan has been able to give advice on the social security piece. Working together, we are giving the lady and her son tools to put their lives back together here in Florida.

Janyce Gonzalez had a casual consumer call in regards to financial assistance. She was very upset, as she had called other organizations and she said that they were so rude. After I went through the pre-screening with her, she asked me what my name was. After I told her my name, she said " Oh my god. You are so nice! You were meant to work with people. May you be blessed, and I hope that when you get older like me, someone is just as nice to you, as you were to me."

January was Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Laura Cusack participated in Victim Service’s Red Sand Event that honored all the survivors who fell through the cracks of the system. We also served on a panel hosted by Compass that educated parents of LGBTQ youth. We also presented an overview of CILO services to the Family Care Council. We were able to educate 143 people in the community on human trafficking of vulnerable youth and people with disabilities in the month of January. In addition, a survivor of human trafficking and theft reached out to us for legal assistance, and we were able to connect her to an attorney. We are currently working with interns to set up 5 support groups that will start in February.

Darlene Williamson received a call forwarded from Janyce at Information and Referral. The consumer and her son, both with disabilities, are currently homeless and living in a motel. Working together with Janyce, we were able to deliver a food pantry box with foods that the consumer can cook with the microwave and crock pot available at the motel. Darlene completed intakes and will be advocating for the consumer’s educational needs at an upcoming IEP. The son was also in need of school uniforms, and Darlene was able to provide uniforms along with the food pantry delivery. The consumer is currently working with our financial assistance department, and hopefully will move into permanent housing soon.

Ann Koebe has been advocating for a student who is a 6th grader. This student has attention deficit disorder, memory issues, and has struggled throughout her education. She was adopted at age 2. Her adoptive mother is very dedicated to her and has been trying to get her services under the Individuals with Disabilities Act since 2nd grade. She is not able to pass any standardized testing which is required for a student to obtain a high school diploma. (A student covered under IDEA is eligible to have test waivers to allow them to obtain a high school diploma so it is critical that she obtain services.) To make matters more complicated, the adoptive mother has been battling cancer which was in remission until December. She must go to Texas for treatment for several months and will be unavailable to provide her daughter with the hours of nightly study assistance which has proved crucial to keeping her from failing. With our agency’s educational advocacy support, we are requesting another evaluation to qualify her for services. I am working diligently to have her qualified for services.

JI, 52, contacted CILO to inquire about obtaining Food Stamps, Medicaid, emergency food, and other medical resources. CILO Program Specialist Joe Anderson and CILO intern Martha Mateo worked with consumer via Zoom conferences over two days to accomplish consumers goals. Consumer was approved for food stamps and CILO provided some emergency food to hold her over while waiting for food stamps. JI was also almost taken advantage of by scammers and thankfully avoided being scammed with the help of CILO staff.

In the month on January 2021, William Genem received a referral from PBSO about a victim of Domestic Violence whose abuser threatened her to kill her and her three boys. The victim is totally dependent on the abuser. Staff is working with intern Kari Rosario to help the victim become independent from the abuser. Staff will help victim get to a shelter by referring her to AVDA. Staff will also help victim with getting a restraining order against her abuser by referring her to Legal Aid. Staff will also help victim with applying for financial assistance through CILO. Staff also signed victim up for food pantry at CILO. Staff will also help victim with a referral to Vocational Rehabilitation to help her find a job she can perform based on her disabilities. Staff and Intern will continue to provide services to ensure victim becomes independent and self-reliant.

In ALERT this month, our consumers have been working hard focusing on job readiness skills such as how to dress for an interview and how to create an online portfolio and resume. One new student joined ALERT and is engaging daily with peers and showing some skill acquisition. ALERT has also achieved their first outcome for the fiscal year!

A mother with three children are victims of domestic violence and are left to deal with the aftermath of their abuser. TP’s husband, the step father of her children was arrested and is currently incarcerated. The mother is struggling financial for she no longer is receiving an income from her husband. Terry Burke applied for an Emergency Funds Application to assist with paying their utility bill. TP was months behind and there was enough funding to help her with her past and current utility bills of $622.88. This brought the family in tears for they were appreciative of the financial relief right before Christmas. Food was delivered to the family several times including holiday food. Other area resources were provided for the family and a referral to Florida Rural Legal Services was sent to obtain a divorce.