November Success Stories

Intern Princess Davis was asked to find shelter options for a blind homeless man living on the street. She reached out to the community and the CILO staff for any leads. Then Princess waited on hold for close to hour with the Lewis Center to see if any beds were available. The lady she finally spoke to explained the convoluted process and left Princess feeling hopeless. But she kept calling agencies. A few days later, she called the client to review resources she'd found, and he startled her by saying he was moving into the Lewis Center in 3 days. She said this was the highlight of her internship. 

JF is a Vietnam War honorably discharged due to injuries and is receiving disability pay. He also is a victim of domestic violence by his wife and son. A law enforcement officer referred JF to CILO. He needed a telephone because his wife had broken his, referral for a divorce and counseling. Libby Snider got him a phone and a referral to a legal services agency and a counselor who assisted him for free.

Amber Lott was trying to secure housing before a family became homeless. But she couldn't find anything before their lease ended so they've had to rely on their family, friends and hotels. It took lots of creative work with the landlord, but Amber got the family into a home--one of the many families who received rent and utility assistance last month.

For over a year, Ana Pacheco has been working with a victim of aggravated assault whose injuries were so severe they'll impact the rest of his life. The victimization hinders his ability to provide for his family. Ana has helped him get a mattress, medical equipment, a car seat, food, and an immigration referral. After months of waiting, the victim's immigration status was approved, and he applied for his driver's license--a step toward independence.

Who would have thought that we could expand summer camp to two Saturdays and the 4 weekdays around Thanksgiving and attract 93 families to sign up and 70+ to actually attend for an average of about 28 hours? 

Students came from Belle Glade, Pahokee, Fort Pierce, Margate, and all across Palm Beach County. We even let in a student from Melbourne. 

We already have 66 youth signed up for Winter Camp. Promotion for Spring Break Camp will start during Winter Camp. 

COVID-19 canceled our Spring Break camp and it took a huge effort to get Vocational Rehabilitation to agree to let us conduct a virtual summer camp, which as a huge success. Then we decided to try Thanksgiving. 

Klaudia Glavan and her team of teachers did a fabulous job via online sessions keeping the youth engaged and coming back every day-and gave parents a much needed respite. 

One of my favorite stories about Thanksgiving camp was the mother who hoped her withdrawn son would make a friend. After the first day of camp her son rushed to play play games after dinner. The mom let us know it was with a buddy he met in our camp that first day.

Despite having multiple cognitive, learning and mental disabilities, Kaitlyn was denied Social Security benefits. Susan Carberry has been working on her appeal for 3 years. The judge denied her claim at the hearing level, despite medical evidence and expert opinion demonstrating her inability to work. Recently the Appeals Council sent the case back to the judge for another hearing based on his failure to consider the evidence presented. This move by The Council is rare, and usually means the judge will issue a favorable ruling to avoid reversal. Fingers crossed. 

Last month, Laura Cusack provided trainings to 293+ community members on topics such as human trafficking, online safety, domestic violence, and vulnerable populations. Laura provided a training on Human Trafficking of People with Disabilities and she presented on Domestic Violence and People with Disabilities. She also moderated a panel discussion on pornography and human trafficking and how parents can keep their kids safe from online predators. And she was featured in a podcast hosted by the South Florida Human Trafficking Task Force. Both recordings can be found here:

In November, Darlene Williamson assisted a family with an IEP meeting. The student needed extensive supports to meet his emotional behavioral needs and the school was not prepared to address the concerns. Darlene assisted the family in obtaining additional supports and will be readdressing the student's needs in an upcoming meeting.

Rebecca Jonguitud pulled out a Hail Mary Pass at the end of the month by helping an elderly client who had gotten approved for a housing voucher to move into his place. The housing case worker contacted him late Friday to tell him he needed all of the move-in money on Saturday at the lease signing for his new apartment. He called Rebecca panicked because he was not prepared to have the money by the lease-signing. Rebecca contacted Amber Lott, Brandy and Dan. We approved the application and drafted a commitment letter for the landlord by 9 Friday night so he could move in Saturday morning. 

William Genem received a referral from PBSO regarding an elder victim of domestic violence who was abused by her daughter in front of her grandson. The grandson fully supports his grandmother and will testify against his mother to make sure his grandmother is safe. William assisted the victim in getting legal representation to get an injunction for protection against domestic violence. He also ensured the victim had transportation back and forth to the courthouse on numerous times. And William connected the victim with several other services such as counseling, food from CILO's pantry, victim compensation, Palm Tran Connection and is working on getting the victim an in-house aid through Medicaid.

Michele Sanz facilitated a Facebook live presentation on bullying, which was attended by 110 participants. Michele also made a connection with a Career Counseling Agency this month, that was looking to educate its association members on Human Trafficking and invited CILO to present for their members next month. 

A family that lost their mother daughter, brother, and a grandson are secondary victims of a homicide that left them in desperate need of healing and financial help. The grandparents adopted their grandson because his mother (their daughter) was murdered while nine months pregnant with his baby brother. They were sent to CILO for more resources. Terry Burke completed an Emergency Financial Assistance Application to help pay for their utility bill. A counseling referral was sent for the 10-year-old boy to an age appropriate counseling facility. A trauma support group brochure was also provided and other resources will be gathered for the family as well.

Sharing a statement from Irene Sirois' client: "It all started when I found out I was losing my hearing. It was really upsetting. Started doing my researching due to the fact that I couldn't afford hearing aids, nor did my insurance cover it. It is upsetting that insurance considers hearing aids to be cosmetic. I spent months looking for hearing aids and other options. One day I went online and found Independent Living Specialist at Coalition for Independent Living Options, Inc. and made a call. This where my journey began. When I received my first call from Irene Sirois. What a very helpful person. Never got to meet, however Irene taught me so much via emails and over phone conversations. Being that I was unaware of my options I had because of my hearing loss. Then Irene had me fill out forms. Had difficulties with forms. That's where Janyce Gonzalez assisted ,e and was very informative and helpful. Irene had me call Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Florida Department of Education. This were I met Jennifer Tobier, Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. She has been so helpful and wonderful helping with the process of getting my hearing aids. This journey has been amazing and extremely emotional. these ladies Irene, Janyce and Jennifer. Also, Audiology of the Heart had been also helpful and informative. When I received the email from Jennifer that I was getting my hearing aids I cried and prayed to the Lord up above. I am truly blessed and grateful for all these ladies that helped me and everyone else behind the scenes. Currently on my journey to getting my hearing aids this Tuesday I go for my fitting. I am truly excited. Thank you everyone." --Nicole Alfalla

Ann Koebe received a referral from the aunt of a student who has autism. The student and his mom moved here from Colorado during his last year of middle school. He made friends in class and was counting on moving to high school with them. But his mom moved to a new apartment during his eighth grade year assuming the apartment was in the projected high school's zone. The parent found out a few weeks before school started that her son was zoned for a different school. Change is particularly difficult for students with autism and this student was very disappointed. His mom reached out to several people in the ESE department at the school district and was told that unless the services reflected on his IEP are not available at his zoned school, the IEP team would not recommend placement at the desired school.  The parent reached out to Ann asking for assistance. Ann verified to her that it would be unlikely to be able to access the preferred high school given special education law and the district policy. Ann guided her into setting up a meeting with his zoned school and attended the meeting with her. The student was enrolled in remote learning and doing no work. By working through the situation with the school and having the student attend the meeting and meet the school staff and take a tour, he began to feel more comfortable with the change. He started going in person the week before Thanksgiving.