Helping Those With Disabilities Succeed Is The Goal

Deb Philpot (left) receives a copy of the Congressional Record from Harkin staffer Jule Reynolds (right)

Deb Philpot (left) receives a copy of the Congressional Record from Harkin staffer Jule Reynolds (right)

Oskaloosa, Iowa – You can easily walk by the South Central Iowa Center for Independent Living, just off the southwest corner of the Oskaloosa square.

What does a center for independent living do? First off, they are not residential facilities, but instead work to eliminate the institutional and facility bias in long term supports for people with disabilities to stay independent.

In Oskaloosa, Deb Philpot, is the Executive Director of the non-profit South Central Iowa Center for Independent Living.

Outgoing Senator Tom Harkin (D) recently sent Jule Reynolds, a staff assistant, to the center to thank Philpot for her work and dedication.

This year, Harkin was celebrating 20 years of the ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act). Harkin and his staff spread out to Iowa’s 99 counties to look at the changes that have taken place as a result of the ADA for the better.

Harkin is responsible for introducing the American’s with Disabilities Act into the Senate.

“The reason that we picked this site, Mahaska County, is because of the work that they do here on behalf of people with disabilities,” said Reynolds.
Reynolds added, “Senator Harkin sent me out here to give Kudos to Deb, and Betty and the staff,” for their continued work on behalf of individuals with disabilities.

Recently, Harkin entered into the Congressional Record;

“I have always believed in accountability for public officials, and this, my final year in the Senate, is an appropriate time to give an accounting of my work across four decades representing Iowa in Congress. I take pride in accomplishments that have been national in scope–for instance, passing the Americans with Disabilities Act and spearheading successful farm bills. But I take a very special pride in projects that have made a big difference in local communities across my State.”

“Today, I would like to give an accounting of my work with leaders and residents of Mahaska County to build a legacy of a stronger local economy, better schools and educational opportunities, and a healthier, safer community.”

“Between 2001 and 2013, the creative leadership in your community has worked with me to secure funding in Mahaska County worth over $1.2 million and successfully acquired financial assistance from programs I have fought hard to support, which have provided more than $64 million to the local economy.”

“Of course my favorite memory of working together has to be working with people like Deb Philpot, executive director of the South Central Iowa Center for Independent Living, who helps to promote independent living for people with disabilities. There is no substitute for being able to live at home, close to your friends and family, and not in an institutional setting. I look forward to hearing about the kind of progress that has been made in Oskaloosa.”

Philpot has been recognized for making the most of every dollar utilized by the center. The center in Oskaloosa is the least funded center in Iowa. The Oskaloosa location serves not only Mahaska County, but also Monroe and Appanoose.

The almost $100,000 budget covers everything from wages, rent and electricity, to needed food and supplies.

“I still don’t know how she does it,” said Reynolds, of Philpot’s reputation for providing services on a limited budget.

Philpot is known by those near the center as a tireless worker, putting in far more than 40 hours per week.

“It really surprised me,” said Philpot on the recognition of her work.

The Center is always looking for ways to help offset the lack of funding. They sell some refurbished computers to individuals, hold garage sales.

Donations are very important to the Center. Money, food, garage sale items, and retired computers are always welcome.

Beyond helping those with disabilities, the Center also provides Workforce Development computers for employment.

The Center also provides GED services for individuals. They have a tutor and GED on TV as well. “A lot of it’s online now,” says Philpot. “Most of the people we work with, they have to have one on one instruction.”

The Center also includes a “You Can Succeed Program” and a computer program.

If you would like to know more about, or help with the services of the South Central Iowa Center for Independent Living, you can visit them at 117 1st Avenue West in Oskaloosa or call them at 641.672.1867.

You can also Email them at brookie43@gmail.com

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