Celebrating 41 years of nonprofit service in the St. Thomas, St. John District As a Center for independent living for person with disabilities
THE US VIRGIN ISLANDS, also known as America’s vacation paradise, are located in the Caribbean approximately 70 miles east of Puerto Rico. The territory consists of four main islands: St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John, Water Island as well as many other smaller islands. The islands are known for their diverse population, white sandy beaches, great charter boats, day sails, deep sea fishing adventures and many exotic restaurants. If you are looking for a home away from the cold during the winter months, our islands offer a warm refuge.
Although not a leader in addressing the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the territory offers accommodations as a vacation spot of persons with disabilities. Accessible hotel rooms, beach wheelchairs, accessible transportation as well as scuba diving and snorkeling for persons with disabilities are available in the territory.
In 1980, the US Dept. of Education made became available to the territory to establish a Center for Independent Living. Visibility of adults with disabilities in the community was minimal. Until that time services to persons with disabilities were provided by the Department of Education which addressed some needs of the student population, the Department of Health which addressed medical and some psychiatric services, the Department of Social Welfare which sponsored a sheltered workshop, a day program with limited work opportunities. Additionally, a group of parents concerned about the future of their children with disabilities form a group called, Parents Association for Handicapped Children, and fought against all odds to have their loved ones participate in the community to the fullest extent possible. During the early years there was also a day program which provided instruction in daily living for persons who were blind.
In the Virgin Islands, we operates from two locations which are separated by 40 miles of water and to date have been able to provide quality service beneficial to all participants. We welcome visitors to our facilities and will make available any accessible accommodation we have to make living independently with a disability a reality. We are an adult day time educational program.
Disabilities is for all of us. Nothing about us without us.
Board of Directors
Mr. Sal Sanpere
At VIAIL we offer the opportunity to persons with disabilities to receive support, guidance and instruction for role models who are living successfully independent lifestyles with their disabilities. Opportunities are available for one on one or group sessions which address very mundane or even personal matters as told or discussed by persons who have “been there and done it”. This aspect of our program is very successful as persons who are encountering a disability for the first time are seeking as much information as possible to make the new stresses of life as few as possible. Peer counselors and other staff with or without disabilities provide hands on experiences to assist and enhance the skills needed for effective self-representation. Persons who participate in peer counseling activities find the sessions very beneficial in assisting them to meet established goals.
Staff at VIAIL works with a variety of clients in an effort to make the most of their abilities by increasing their self-confidence in order to take control of their lives and to live independently. Participants are encouraged to make the most of their existing skills and to improve on those skills which are weak as well as to develop new skills which will help in areas in which there isn’t adequate confidence. A participant who has the desire to take control and live independently has the opportunity to reach their goals by participating in skills training in order to develop new skills or to improve existing ones on the road to independence.
Areas of training include: Time Management, Personal Hygiene, Money Management/Budgeting and Cooking.
It is important a person striving to be independent understands not only the time of day, but can also relate to the day of the week, week of the month and month of the year. Hands on activities are used to demonstrate the use of the calendar for noting meetings, appointments and other activities.
Developing a routine for personal care is extremely important and for some persons there was never a need to develop a routine as there was always someone to give direction or reminders. All efforts are made to find the least embarrassing method to assist participants in presenting themselves publicly in an acceptable manner.
Particularly to persons who live alone, this aspect of independence is critical. Knowing how much money is needed for the necessities of rent, food, utilities is extremely important and is addressed through role playing and community experiences at banks, supermarkets, landlords and related entities vital to managing money maintaining a bank account.
Living independently includes having the knowledge and ability to prepare a meal. These skills are taught through hands-on opportunities of preparing simple, economical and palatable meals with limited or no assistance.
VIAIL’s advocacy efforts include many activities that individuals or our organization undertake to address a specific need or to influence a public policy or practice. Staff assists clients in obtaining benefits or following the law to achieve their rights. Self-help and self- advocacy are made available through a variety of innovative technology which assists persons with disabilities to improve the quality of their lives and to live comfortably and independently in their own homes. The need to be well empowered in order to gain control of life is emphasized during training sessions. Consumers are prepared in the areas of problem solving with a goal of acquiring the knowledge needed to protect their personal as well as legal rights.
As a center for Independent Living we are prepared to provide information to persons with disabilities for whom we are unable to provide a direct service. We provide contact information and as needed make formal referrals to other agencies and organizations in order to meet a client’s need. We also follow- up to ensure that the client’s need is met. Immediate contacts and possible referrals may include: a variety of services provided by the Dept. of Human Services including Disability and Rehabilitation Services, Medical Assistance Program, ABLE and VITRAN for transportation needs, VI Housing Authority for apartment or housing needs, Social Security, Department of Health, Disability Rights Center among others.
Your support and contributions will enable us to meet our goals and improve services to individuals with disabilities. Your generous donation will fund our mission.
AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices and shopping features as Amazon.com. The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to support the Virgin Islands Association of Independent Living Inc.
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No mask, no entry. Mask should be wore at all times upon entry into the building. The rules will be enforced.
Not sure if you're hands are clean enough? Don't second guess yourself, use the hand sanitizer machines posted throughout the building to ensure a virus free environment.
Mandatory temperature checks upon entry. We just want to make sure you are regulated and not displaying any signs of COVID.
Currently due to COVID, we are currently not accepting walk-ins. Please contact the office to schedule an appointment.
The office is now limited to a maximum of 3 people inside the building at one time other than staff.