201-996-9100 Bergen Office or 201-533-4407 Hudson Office

Austin’s Corner

February 21, 2020

 I am Austin Epstein, past President and Vice President of the Board of Trustees at DIAL Center for Independent Living. Brian Fitzgibbons, President/CEO of Heightened Independence & Progress Center for Independent Living (hip) has given me the great opportunity to do a blog for hip’s website. I have decided to call it “Austin’s Corner.” History is good, as it puts a lot of things in focus. I would like to spend time on the present. How can we communicate all the knowledge of the past 40 years and where we hope to go?  We have been so busy trying to prove that these services were necessary that we forgot why this information was needed and how to disseminate it sensibly. Are we there yet? I am not sure.

A brief history of Independent Living Centers (CILs): hip and DIAL are in their 40th years of operation in New Jersey and all other CILs in NJ were established later. hip and DIAL were the first to receive federal funding in the state. The centers were originally supported by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) and the Commission for the Blind & Visually Impaired (CBVI). The two agencies pooled their resources to help their clients with disabilities became more independent. It was a novel approach – I should know, I was there.

We are in the era of 24/7 access to the web and Facebook. Many agencies have their own websites and Facebook pages. Where do you go for your information? Do you go online or are you more comfortable speaking to knowledgeable people on the other end of the phone?

We’ve recently had a vacancy in the position of Director of the Bergen County Division of Disability Services. If you were looking to hire a new director, what qualities and experience would you want this person to have and why?

Let me know your thoughts on these topics! Email austincornerhip@gmail.com

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