Human Resource Council Column: Supporting those with disabilities

Ian Engle/ For the Saturday Morning Press

Human Resource Council Column

The HRC column runs once a month in the Saturday Morning Press, highlighting the work of local nonprofits.

The NorthWest Colorado Center for Independence (NWCCI) is a Center for Independent Living, rooted in a history of peer support and the advancement of rights for people with disabilities.

We believe everyone in America has the right, regardless of age or ability, to live well in the community of choice. Moreover, we recognize how marginalizing people based on age or ability erodes the fabric of our community as a whole. We work with anyone with a disability, of any age, free of charge, to reach goals for living well in northwest Colorado communities.

NWCCI does not do anything for, but rather works with people living with disabilities to avoid fostering dependency or reinforcing entitlement. Our advocacy, independent living skills development, information and referral, peer support and transition services connect people with the supports to live well in northwest Colorado communities.

Charity and pity are enemies of our effort to develop mutually beneficial relationships wherein we are all valued participants. We work to break down barriers between us and them, those who provide and those who receive. NWCCI staff and board of directors are people with disabilities, we understand and experience the challenges of those with whom we work.

We know what it feels like when the first thing everyone asks is “how can I help you” or someone says “I’m sorry” for no apparent reason. We know how toxic charity comes from the good intentions of those who are trying to help. Our experiences allow us to establish trust and connect on a personal level. Independence doesn’t mean we do everything by ourselves, it means we choose our supports and are actively engaged in the direction of our own lives.

Merely existing in a world where we are kept so safe there is no opportunity for personal growth is not living. We believe in dignity of risk, the right to fail and learning from mistakes. Many of our neighbors have moved to the front-range and live in congregate facilities for lack of community-based services and support. It costs approximately $300 per day to exist in a nursing home, you could live on a cruise ship for less. Choice without options is not real choice. Fortunately, we live in a place where mutual support is valued above personal gain. We invite you to learn more about who we are, what we do and how we do it. Feel free contact us, check out our website (, look us up on Facebook, or drop by our new office in the Bell Tower at the old CNCC campus and meet Mike Bertram; the NWCCI Independent Living Coordinator for Moffat and Rio Blanco Counties. Among other services, Mike assists with Social Security, Veterans, State and County benefit applications, finding a job, and works with students who have disabilities and their families on the transition to adult life in the community. If you have a disability and living well in the community is your goal, we are here for you.

Ian Engle is the executive director of the NorthWest Colorado Center for Independence.

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