WBEZ | disabled http://www.wbez.org/tags/disabled Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en South Side ‘forward operating base’ serves more than just veterans http://www.wbez.org/news/south-side-%E2%80%98forward-operating-base%E2%80%99-serves-more-just-veterans-113739 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CV2-Doc.JPG" style="height: 405px; width: 540px;" title="Daniel “Doc” Habeel with a picture of his father William George II, who served as a lieutenant in World War II. (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" /></p><p>Just inside the doors of the <a href="http://www.rtwvetcenter.org/">RTW Veterans Center</a> on S. Martin Luther King Dr. a long hallway is lined with a dozen framed pictures.</p><p>Ranging from abolitionist Frederick Douglas to Henry Flipper, the first black graduate of West Point, to General Colin Powell, it&rsquo;s literally a hall of fame of black servicemen throughout history.</p><p>That history includes RTW&rsquo;s founder Daniel &ldquo;Doc&rdquo; Habeel who served in Vietnam as well as his father, grandfather and other relatives who carried on a military tradition. It also now includes two of Habeel&#39;s children who&rsquo;ve served in Iraq and Afghanistan.</p><p>Habeel decided to open an outpost of the Muslim American Veterans Association several years ago. It was during a MAVA fish fry fundraiser in 2011 that he noticed something.</p><p>&ldquo;Some of the people that came to the fish fry they really didn&rsquo;t have the money that we were looking for $10 a plate all you can eat,&rdquo; said Habeel. &ldquo;What they came with was some change. But we fed them anyway.&rdquo;</p><p>Habeel says some of the same people came back the following day.</p><p>&ldquo;And they wanted to know if there was any fish left,&rdquo; remembered Habeel. &ldquo;And there was and we fed them again.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CV1-building.JPG" style="height: 385px; width: 320px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="RTW has been in the community since 2011. Habeel says they’ve served at least 2,000 people since opening. (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" /></p><p>Then some showed up on the <em>third </em>day.</p><p>&ldquo;And that day we made a commitment that if anyone comes to this door hungry, they would never leave hungry,&rdquo; said Habeel.</p><p>Shortly afterward, he and his wife Arnetha started the RTW, which stands for Remaking the World. They originally intended to help needy veterans find food, clothing and a place to get out of the cold.</p><p>But they soon realized the needs of the neighborhood were much greater. Habeel said he began to think of their sturdy, three-story graystone as a &quot;forward operating base&quot; in a war zone.</p><p>&ldquo;We have to go in and rescue our neighborhoods,&rdquo; said Habeel. &ldquo;From poverty, gangs, drugs, crime, violence and urban terrorism.&rdquo;</p><p>Hazel Parker comes for lunch everyday at 1 p.m sharp. On this day, she&rsquo;s getting a plate of b-b-q chicken to go. Parker says she spent a year in the Army, not long enough to rack up benefits. Injured in a motorcycle accident in the 1980s, a stroke permanently slurred her speech. Now Parker says fluid behind her knees has forced her to use a wheelchair.</p><p>&ldquo;My leg hurts like hell, said Parker. &ldquo;I need two knee replacement surgeries.&rdquo;</p><p>Parker lives around the corner from the RTW and says it helps everyone in the neighborhood &mdash; no questions asked. There&rsquo;s a community garden on the vacant lot next door. Inside the greystone, one converted bedroom holds canned goods and another has long racks of clothing. On the third floor there&rsquo;s a computer lab for anyone who needs help finding a job.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CV3-Hazel.JPG" style="text-align: center; height: 551px; width: 540px;" title="Hazel Parker gets free meals from RTW every day. (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" /></p><p>Gwendolyn Washington, a former Army lieutenant, says the staff prepares anywhere from 75 to 150 meals a day for those in need.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re grateful they&rsquo;re here. Especially the little kids after school. They get pastries&rdquo;, said Washington, who recalled passing out hams a few weeks ago. &ldquo;A little boy came up and said &lsquo;could I take one?&rsquo; I said &lsquo;what are you going to do with that ham?&rsquo; He said &lsquo;I&rsquo;m going to take it to my mother.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Habeel says they rely on volunteers and donations from the community to keep the pantry full.</p><p>In the meantime, he&rsquo;s also keeping an eye on what&rsquo;s brewing across the street. If Washington Park is chosen as the site of the new Obama Presidential Center, future commercial development could be built steps away. Habeel isn&rsquo;t opposed to the idea but worries it could displace the RTW and those it serves.</p><p>Habeel says it wouldn&rsquo;t be his first battle for survival. And he promised to follow the old Army Creed ... to never leave a fallen comrade.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ reporter Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews">@yolandanews</a></em></p></p> Wed, 11 Nov 2015 11:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/south-side-%E2%80%98forward-operating-base%E2%80%99-serves-more-just-veterans-113739 'Valor Games' for disabled veterans to begin http://www.wbez.org/news/valor-games-disabled-veterans-begin-108375 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Vets 130812 AY.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Hundreds of veterans and service members are set to compete in the annual Valor Games Midwest.</p><p dir="ltr">The event for the disabled begins Monday and ends Wednesday. Competitions include cycling, archery, powerlifting and indoor rowing.</p><p dir="ltr">The event is geared toward veterans or active service members who have been wounded or are ill. The first Valor Games started in Chicago two years ago, with events spreading to San Francisco, San Antonio and Durham, North Carolina.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s sponsors include the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Chicago Park District. Organizers say about 220 participants have registered for this year&rsquo;s games. Among those participating is Air Force Sergeant Israel Del Toro, or DT.</p><p>A bomb exploded under his truck eight years ago in Afghanistan. Del Toro lost fingers on both hands, had over 130 surgeries, got skin grafts for most of his body and wears a brace on his right leg. But for the next few days, he&rsquo;s cycling, powerlifting, and competing in the discus and shotput contests.</p><p>&ldquo;I thought all throughout my therapy, I could never work out at free weights, and when they encouraged me, &lsquo;Come on DT, try it, try it,&rsquo; I ended up winning gold in it,&rdquo; &nbsp;Del Toro says. &ldquo;That first Valor Games, I always say, that was the first time I actually got under a bench and started working out again.&rdquo;</p><p>Four years ago, Del Toro was the first disabled airman to re-enlist. For veterans who have left the military, he says the games can help them regain part of that experience.</p><p>&ldquo;They can start acting like they&rsquo;re back in the military, tell the same jokes they used to, pick on each other, &lsquo;cause that&rsquo;s just the camaraderie you don&rsquo;t get anywhere else,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Howard Wilson, a retired Marine Corps veteran, agrees. After leaving the Marine Corps, he lost most of his vision through glaucoma, a disease that damages the optic nerve. He has competed at all three Valor Games in Chicago, and says despite the competition, everyone was working together at his first competition.</p><p>&ldquo;You had competitors, but everybody was still on the same side. We egged each other on, we made such each other do our best,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;The disability just opened up a new chapter in my life. I knew my vision was getting worse, I got depressed, started thinking about what I couldn&rsquo;t do. You see things slipping away: driving, your independence, you don&rsquo;t have to stop yourself from doing what you were doing initially, you just have to find other ways of doing it.&rdquo;</p><p>He says he is reinventing himself through sport, and hopes to qualify for the US Paralympic wrestling team.</p><p>Sport makes it easier to cope with injuries and depression, says retired Army Sergeant Noah Galloway. He was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq and lost his left arm above the elbow and his left leg above the knee. He has since run two marathons and a series of races, including two <a href="http://toughmudder.com/">&ldquo;Tough Mudder&rdquo;</a> obstacle course races. He gets sponsored to run, but doesn&rsquo;t call himself a professional athlete. He says veterans just need to start participating.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been at the bottom. I&rsquo;ve suffered the depression. I wanted nothing more than to have my arm and leg back, but when I accepted the fact that this is who I am, and I got up, and I got back in shape, and I started taking care of myself, everything turned around,&rdquo; Galloway says. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not looking for Paralympian athletes, we&rsquo;re looking to take care of our veterans.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alan Yu is a WBEZ metro desk intern. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/Alan_Yu039">@Alan_Yu039</a></em></p></p> Mon, 12 Aug 2013 08:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/valor-games-disabled-veterans-begin-108375 CHA runs program to help disabled get own homes http://www.wbez.org/news/housing/cha-runs-program-help-disabled-get-own-homes-97818 <p><p>Lawrence Matthews isn't even sure how he ended up in the nursing home. The 56-year-old remembers falling on the ice in January 2009, waking up in the hospital, groggily signing some papers then being moved to a facility he's spent the last three years trying to get out of.</p><p>Now, he and his wife — who he met in the nursing home — recently moved into a place of their own along Chicago's lakefront thanks to a federal program that helps people with disabilities who are 61 and younger leave institutions and secure apartments using public housing vouchers.</p><p>The Non-Elderly Disabled program administrated by the Chicago Housing Authority has helped dozens of low-income people like Matthews who landed in nursing homes because of a medical need then couldn't afford to move out once their conditions improved.</p><p>There's a movement to transition people out of nursing facilities and into homes of their own. In December, a federal judge in Chicago approved a settlement in a class-action lawsuit that could help thousands of disabled, low-income Illinois residents move out of nursing homes.</p><p>Government officials say such programs save tax dollars, while advocates believe everyone benefits from having people with disabilities better integrated into communities. Matthews says he's grateful to no longer feel stuck.</p><p>"Money keeps you in the nursing home," he said. "It's not where we wanted to spend the rest of our lives."</p><p>The CHA has partnered with Access Living, an advocacy group for the disabled, to administer the voucher program. Access Living helps identify residents in institutions who are interested in relocating, finds accessible living arrangements in the private market and works to smooth the transition, including taking people shopping for groceries and appliances. (Disclosure: Access Living is a partner of Chicago Public Media, WBEZ's parent company.)</p><p>Participants pay 30 percent of their annual adjusted income for rent, and the federal Housing Choice Voucher program pays the rest.</p><p>Independent living costs about half of what it costs to house someone in an institution, where the money must cover facility expenses such as staff, maintenance and insurance, advocates say. In a home setting, the expenses are rent, medical costs and personal assistants if they're needed for just one person, rather than an entire building.</p><p>"The state doesn't need to be charged 24 hours for everyone who's in a nursing facility," said Rahnee Patrick, director of independent living at Access Living. "Some people may, not everybody will."</p><p>Federally mandated surveys at nursing homes show one in five residents would rather live in the community, Patrick said.</p><p>For the CHA, the so-called NED program has been a chance to help a unique and previously unreached population.</p><p>Amanda Motyka, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance manager for the CHA, remembers walking into an Access Living event and getting a hero's welcome.</p><p>"They pointed CHA out, 'that's who freed you from your nursing home,'" she said. "Everyone's clapping...it's very touching."</p><p>Matthews, who was sidelined from his job as a laboratory optician by health problems, broke his hip during the fall on the ice and lost his place to live as he recuperated. He learned of Access Living from another resident at the nursing home, and he was pleasantly surprised that it only took months — not years — for him and his wife to move from the facility and into their apartment.</p><p>His wife immediately fell in love with the place, a 20th-floor duplex with dramatic views of Lake Michigan. The couple married on Valentine's Day 2010.</p><p>For the couple, having a home of their own means living by their own rules in their own space.</p><p>"There's too many similarities between prison and the nursing home," Matthews said.</p></p> Mon, 02 Apr 2012 10:22:11 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/housing/cha-runs-program-help-disabled-get-own-homes-97818 Settlement improves living opportunities for disabled Chicagoans http://www.wbez.org/story/settlement-improves-living-opportunities-disabled-chicagoans-91260 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-30/748709408_ae955a68f6.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Disabled Cook County residents have reached a settlement with the state of Illinois about the rights of disabled Medicaid residents in nursing homes. U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow in Chicago ruled Tuesday that people living outside of nursing homes can receive state-provided services in their alternate housing.</p><p>Ben Wolf, associate legal director of the ACLU, said the organization hopes the rest of the state will follow suit with Cook County. "We expect that the reform process will demonstrate both that people, many people want to move to the community when given the chance with the right services and support, and that moving them to the community will actually not cost the state more money, and in some instances will actually save the state money," Wolf said.</p><p>The lawsuit, <em>Colbert v. Quinn</em>, is not the first of its kind. The 1999 Supreme Court case <em>Olmstead v. L.C.</em> held that institutionalization of disabled people is discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Marca Bristo, President &amp; CEO of Access Living, a disability advocacy group, compared <em>Olmstead </em>to cases like <em>Brown v. Board of Education</em> and <em>Roe v. Wade</em>.</p><p>Wolf believes that that's an accurate comparison.&nbsp;"<em>Olmstead </em>is a case that crystallizes the rights of people with disabilities who were needlessly institutionalized," he said. "And we're delighted that Governor Quinn and Michael Gelder, his chief health advisor, have signed on to a legally enforceable committment to move the state in a different direction."&nbsp;</p><p>Plaintiffs, including Lenil Colbert, the disabled man for whom the case was named, claim that Illinois could save over two thousand dollars a year per person by housing patients in apartments and not nursing homes. After having a stroke at the age of 32, Colbert became partially paralyzed, and was placed in a nursing home. "I volunteered my time, my name, and my story to this case for several reasons," said Colbert. "I was never given the choice to receive support in my own home." Colbert now lives alone, where he receives about five hours of services a day.&nbsp;</p><p>The state of Illinois will be required to spend $10 million in the first 30 months of implemenation to help over a thousand residents move. Court approval, and a fairness hearing set for December 20, are required before the case becomes state policy.</p><p>"We expect and hope that the number of people who will be [in nursing homes] for long term stays will radically diminish," Barca said.</p></p> Tue, 30 Aug 2011 17:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/settlement-improves-living-opportunities-disabled-chicagoans-91260 Disabled Laotians find refuge on basketball court http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-17/disabled-laotians-find-refuge-basketball-court-88005 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-June/2011-06-17/82731755.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In Laos, people disabled by polio or injured by unexploded weapons leftover from various conflicts often face stigma and stares. But, as the <a href="http://www.worldvisionreport.org" target="_blank"><em>World Vision Report’s</em></a> Erwin Loy discovered, the basketball court can be a safe-haven for some of these disabled Laotians.</p><p><em>This story first aired on the World Vision Report. We got it from the Public Radio Exchange.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 17 Jun 2011 17:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-17/disabled-laotians-find-refuge-basketball-court-88005 Transit for elderly and disabled "major issue" http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-blizzard/transit-elderly-and-disabled-major-issue <p><p>Pace Bus&rsquo;s paratransit service, a lifeline to elderly and disabled people who rely on public transportation, has had to overcome significant difficulties to access its riders.</p><p>&ldquo;In the city, and in a number of the suburbs, too, we're running into a lot of issues as far as vehicles being able to access the side streets where people live,&rdquo; said spokesman Patrick Wilmot, &ldquo;and it's been a major issue.&rdquo;</p> <div>Wilmot said the difficulties have been compounded by snow-filled sidewalks.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;A lot of times people are using mobility devices, like wheelchairs and walkers and so forth,&rdquo; said Wilmot, &ldquo;and if the sidewalks aren&rsquo;t clear then it becomes really complicated for people to be able to even access the vehicle.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The 24-hour, door-to-door service normally makes 8 thousand stops on weekdays, in six counties of the Chicago region. Today, said Wilmot, it handled fewer than 3 thousand. Wilmot credited riders for opting to postpone non-essential trips. Still, he added, the service has logged on-time pickups for 90 percent of its calls since the blizzard hit.</div></p> Thu, 03 Feb 2011 21:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-blizzard/transit-elderly-and-disabled-major-issue New agreement reached for disabled http://www.wbez.org/story/agreement/new-agreement-reached-disabled <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//man in wheelchair_gettyimages.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A new settlement in a civil rights case could affect nearly 10,000 adults with developmental disabilities in Illinois.</p><p>The agreement was filed Tuesday in federal court in Chicago.</p><p>It takes into account the objections of families who worried a prior version would have forced their loved ones out of residential care facilities. A judge rejected that version in 2009.</p><p>This version more clearly spells out that people who are happy living in large private institutions could stay where they are. Or they could choose to move to smaller homes and get support services in the community.</p><p>The new agreement, if approved by a judge, would settle claims Illinois violates the rights of the developmentally disabled by segregating them in large institutions.</p><p>The case is Ligas v. Hamos.</p></p> Tue, 11 Jan 2011 20:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/agreement/new-agreement-reached-disabled