Local resources & services at Silicon Valley Independent Living Center


PNP Blogger, Nick Struthers, visited Silicon Valley Independent Living Center (SVILC) in San Jose to meet Joe Escalante who is responsible for Assistive Technology & the Device Lending Library.

Just about every week at the SCI Peer Support Meeting at SCVMC, The Peer Support Volunteer Team, which I am part of, suggests that the patients may want to contact their county’s Independent Living Center. The Center may be able to assist an individual with either services or information. So rather than pass on the information second hand, I decided to find out more about what types of services and resources at SVILC could be available to the patients and loved ones we speak to.

I first spoke to Peer Support Coordinator, Michelle Galitz, to find out more about the Peer Support Programs. Michelle was very helpful explaining the programs she coordinates and I discovered that SVILC does not offer specific SCI Peer Support Programs. I was able to give her more information on the existing SCI Peer Support Programs not just in Santa Clara County but also the programs we were aware of in Northern California. After speaking to Michelle, I met Joe Escalante who is responsible for Assistive Technology & the Device Lending Library.

SVILC is the Independent Living Center for Santa Clara County. There are 28 ILCs in California and each have different levels of service and/or resources. You can find your local center by clicking the link cdilc.org

As I got close to the SVILC office on N. First Street in San Jose, I noticed that the center itself has easy access to both the Karina Light Rail Station and the VTA Bus Network. The Center was on the ground floor of a fairly generic Silicon Valley 1980’s office building and had plenty of free parking close by. I was greeted by a friendly smile from the receptionist who was in a power wheelchair and she immediately called Joe and asked me to take a seat in the lobby. Joe arrived a few minutes after that and invited me in to the spacious community area which was abuzz with activity. At the second attempt, Joe found a quieter office where we could talk and I followed him in.

Nick and Joe

As Joe explained to me the programs and resources available through the SVILC, it became clear he had a great working knowledge of the all the services and he was also able to articulate the limitations of the programs and who may or may not qualify for the limited resources. I could sense that Joe had done a lot of work for the disabled community and I could also feel a sense of frustration of the limited funding sources available to support individuals with specific needs. I’ve listed a summary of Joe’s explanation of the services SVILC provides at the end of this post. What I would also recommend is for anyone interested in finding out how SVILC may help them or their loved one is to start at the web site and then schedule an appointment with one of their staff members as they would be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have.

After Joe had given me a clear and concise description of the programs they offer, he then showed me the assistive device lending library which is one of 12 in California. www.ability tools.org

The SVILC Device Lending Library

The “Library” in this case is a converted office containing racks of equipment including tablets, laptops, portable ramps, wheelchairs and walkers which can be “borrowed” for up to 30 days. At that point, Joe introduced me to Carlo Santos who immediately impressed me by identifying what country my accent originated from. Carlos is the Programs Director at SVILC and was gracious enough to allow me tell him about what we were doing at PNP as well as what I had found out about SCI Community in Northern California. As I left the office, I again thanked Joe for taking the time to inform me of the work carried out at SVILC and looked forward to connecting with Joe in the future as part of the SCI Community.

SVILC partners with Rebuilding Together to provide assistance to qualifying homeowners with modifications to their homes to achieve accessibility.

SVILC advises on tenants rights for modifications to rented accommodation.

SVILC can facilitate applications for low-interest loans for assistive technology in California through Freedom Tech.

SVILC hosts the Assistive Device Lending Library as well as facilitating the re-use of donated equipment such as power or manual wheelchairs.

SVILC also provides other resources and services. Check out the SVILC website.

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