From a very young age, Jennifer Griffin witnessed how challenging it can be for people living with a disability to navigate life. With both her parents working full time, Griffin and her siblings were cared for by a nanny who was Deaf. They experienced the nanny’s challenges and triumphs first-hand, as she lived with them and became one of the family.
In grade school, Griffin was surprised to realize that kids with disabilities were segregated into separate “special ed” classes, rather than being able to have the same experiences and opportunities as the rest of the students.
When Griffin started working at the Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC) after college, the organization’s purpose and critical place in the community resonated with her. “It was obvious to me,” she says, “that this is where I was meant to be.”
After twenty-one years with ILRC, Griffin was recently named to the position of executive director. “I’m thrilled to take on this responsibility. The services we provide are so valuable. We see and hear proof of that every day. To be able to make such a huge difference in peoples’ lives in the community I love is extremely rewarding.”
The Independent Living Resource Center exists to help provide services and resources to people living with any type of disability. With four offices throughout the tri-counties, ILRC’s services include connecting clients with housing, interpreting, personal assistant services, assistive technology, and much more. As the name implies, one of the main tenets of the organization is helping individuals with disabilities achieve and maintain self-sufficiency.
Having worked her way up from the position of administrative assistant, Griffin is familiar with all aspects of the organization. Griffin says that she hopes to grow the services and staff, so that ILRC can meet the ever-expanding need in the community. “People with disabilities are disproportionately affected by issues such as affordable housing, employment, emergency preparedness, and cost of living. We must continue to evolve and be creative around advocacy and outreach to strengthen our collaborations, service provision, and local disability service infrastructure.”
In the next five years, Griffin says she hopes to “expand ILRC’s work with community partners and elected officials towards the goal of making San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura universally accessible communities.”
To learn more about ILRC, visit ilrc-trico.org
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