Independence Associates has a long history of being both a direct care provider and an advocate for people with disabilities. Established in 1980 as an Independent Living Center as defined in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, we have continued to grow and respond to community needs in order to maximize our supports in our service area and beyond.
Since its humble beginnings in a tiny corner of the MRC office at Lakeview State Hospital, IA has always kept a firm commitment to the foundations of the independent living philosophy and its dedication to being an active member in the lives of persons with disabilities. In the early 1980’s, Eric Griffin and Paul Spooner both saw the potential impact that an Independent Living Center could have on a community like Southeast Massachusetts. It was people like these, talking over pizza and a late night beer, who saw IA for what it could be. An organization like IA could put the independent living philosophy into action and make a practical difference in the lives of persons with disabilities. It was these early activists that propelled IA into becoming the socially conscious, ideologically driven force it is today. After growing in size and scale, IA was able to move the organization into a full sized office in Elmwood, East Bridgewater.
From then on, Independence Associates has only continued to grow. Our organization has been involved in numerous ground breaking moments in disability history. We organized and advocated for the Americans with Disabilities Act to be passed and signed, housed some of the first modems for DIMENET, the first accessible internet database in the world, and have been involved in many of the nationally organized events in the disability community. We are one of the few Independent Living Centers which has a Personal Care Management Department and our youth department, established in 2015, is continuing to become a vital and prestigious component to our programs and services.
The majority of IA’s Board of Directors is composed of persons with disabilities. It is an organization which, since the beginning, has been for persons with disabilities, by persons with disabilities. From the very top, our decision makers are people who know the full realities of living with a disability. Using our own experiences, we put in place priorities and policies we know will benefit our consumers the best.
On top of our Board, the staff at IA are representative of those we serve in the community. A majority of staff have lived experience with disability. We have the empathy and understanding from our own lives to help our consumers overcome barriers and obstacles that persons with disabilities face in their own life.
After moving to Brockton and then to Taunton, and then back to Brockton again, we have ended up right down the street from where we first started. Our current location at 100 Laurel Street in East Bridgewater, only 5 minutes away from our old Elmwood office, has brought us back to our physical and ideological roots. As we continue to grow every day, a central question we are asking ourselves is “Are we representing the Independent Living Philosophy?” Everything we do is to fulfill our goal of promoting the right of people with disabilities to live independently in the community. As the world continues to grow and change, we hope to be right there with it, growing and changing as well. We hope that you can also be there, standing right there with us, creating our own path forward.