Alt text: Image shows a graphic of a pool with the LVCIL logo and the text, “Hello Summer” with fish, lifesavers, and leaves in a pool.

Welcome to our Summer 2022 LVCIL Newsletter

Discover how a young adult in one of our youth programs is making the journey toward independence with grace and ambition.

Tess Eichman, 20, is set to graduate from Whitehall High School this year and is about to make the crucial transition toward adulthood and independence. She has a thriving social life, a strong support network, and fulfilling employment with two different employers.

She and her mother, Kathi, recently sat down after Tess’ shift at Bitty and Beau’s to talk about their experiences with the Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living (LVCIL.)

Tess, a young woman with Down syndrome, participated in the CIL’s School to Life (S2L) program when she was 14 years old. Kathi and her husband, Tim, heard about S2L, a transition program for young adults with disabilities, from a friend. S2L “seemed like a great opportunity for Tess to have a good combination of socialization and community involvement,” recalls Kathi.

S2L strengthened Tess’ social network and helped her develop independence typical of a teen in high school. Tess’ favorite part of S2L was socializing with her peers. She talks about making crafts, which were later sold in Bethlehem’s Christkindlmarkt, and attending social events, like the S2L’s Halloween party. Tess also mentions that she was able to Zoom with her friends from the CIL during the pandemic, a time when socialization for so many was lacking.

Kathi notes the difference that S2L made for her daughter, saying, “I think S2L was really the first time Tess had significant time away from us other than school. It was the first time she had ‘her’ time.”

The opportunity to build a supportive social network extended to Tess’ parents as well. Kathi says the CIL offered her and Tim “the opportunity to connect with other families both in formal sessions for families and after dropping off Tess. We were able to share stories and make connections. We learned as much from other families as from professionals.”

As Tess neared the end of high school, Kathi and Tim worried Tess would have to take an opportunity because it existed instead of finding an opportunity that truly fit their daughter. Kathi says the CIL’s LIFE (Living Independently for Everyone) program helped develop a post-high school transition plan that centered around Tess’ personal interests. “What I love about the CIL is it’s such a person-centered experience,” says Kathi.

In 2019, Tess connected with LIFE, a school-based program that supplements high-school transition services. Through LIFE, Tess received work-essential skills training from CIL job coaches while working at a bakery in Weis Markets. Kathi believes “the CIL gave Tess her best opportunities where vocational skills are concerned.”

Tess now also works at Bitty & Beau’s Coffee on the weekends, where she tracks orders, pours and makes beverages, restocks products, and ensures the coffee shop is clean for customers.

In addition to school and work, Tess travels to compete in baseball, basketball, and gymnastics through the Special Olympics. She dances, sings karaoke (“We Don’t Talk About Bruno” is her favorite), and attends yoga weekly. Tess keeps a calendar to track all her obligations and activities.

When asked what she wants to do after graduation, Tess confidently shares that she wants to continue “to work at Weis and Bitty and Beau’s” as well as pursuing paid work at the CIL.

Tess’ parents have utilized the CIL’s programs to advocate for their daughter and help Tess self-direct her own life. They hope to pass the torch of advocacy to Tess. When asked about Tess’ future, Kathi says, “I hope Tess can take on what she needs to do when she needs to do it with the right support.” The right support can make all the difference.

We at the LVCIL would like to congratulate Tess on her graduation and send her the best of luck as she embarks on her next big transition!

Your support of LVCIL is what helps us keep serving young adults like Tess in our youth programs. If you’d like to donate, visit www.lvcil.org/donate today!

Alt text: A man holding a dog stands next to two other people.


From left are Tim and Kathi Eichman, with their daughter, Tess, center and dog, Sadie.
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Alt text: People are shown fishing in silhouette with descriptive text that explains the fishing and fun in the park event.

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CARP Corner

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Submitted by Fatima Nabavian, M.Ed.
Coordinator of Accessibility and Related Programs (CARP) at LVCIL

As Disability Pride Month approaches, we are reminded that people with disabilities constitute the nation’s largest minority group and the only group any of us can become a member of at any time. This fact often helps the CARP team connect with prospective outreach partners, Disability Sensitivity Training attendees, and individuals learning of the CIL and its programs, often for the first time. Though many might have a basic understanding of the Americans with Disabilities Act, much of our history and the extent of the hard work and brave souls involved in the Independent Living Movement remains unbeknownst to many and insufficiently memorialized. The CARP team at LVCIL knows more than many… we still have a lot of work to do.

Our history informs and facilitates the work we are presently doing. One might then wonder, what new things are happening in the world of Accessibility at the CIL, why should we care, and how does this work in the present impact our community now and in the future? Let’s take a look at some of the year in CARP so far to find out.

In LVCIL’s last newsletter, we shared information about a terrific new program called “Connect With Tech,” run by Temple University’s Institute on Disabilities TechOwl (Technology for Our Whole Lives) programs, for which we serve as a resource center to seven counties. Connect with Tech is aimed specifically at providing tablets, not only to individuals with disabilities, but also to other minority populations that might otherwise not have access to a device that can help them remain connected in this digital world. We are always looking for opportunities to raise awareness about this service and support more Pennsylvanians toward experiencing the potentially life-altering reality of owning a smart device. In addition to the tablet, each recipient is paired with a 1:1 tech coach and supplied with a set of headphones and stylus. A tablet can help support a person toward access to housing, job searches, telehealth, a social network, and so much more. Programs like this look toward the future and seek to both expand and enhance connections in a sometimes isolating world.

LVCIL continues to help people access and acquire free Assistive Technology (AT) with programs like CWT, Reused Equipment Exchange and Donation, Free Special Phones (TDDP), and the free Assistive Technology Lending Library. Our team can also often be found helping people find more than just typical AT and funding sources in our work with partners at Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF). In 2021, PATF released a complete Smart Homes Made Simple Guide that supports individuals in accessing their environment for communication, environmental control, remote supports, health monitoring, safety/security, and productivity among other areas. This resource can help all individuals, with or without a disability, to support themselves and loved ones alike. Just as we utilize a holistic approach throughout our program, we also take into consideration the pros and cons of new technology, understanding it can be viewed at first as a curse to some but a blessing for others when referring individuals to this resource and its accompanying assessment tool.

LVCIL acknowledges individual and communal needs. In addition, we recognize that our past work informs our current initiatives and future directions. Universal Design principles support our planning in all areas, but especially in our work with community partners, to promote the idea that reasonable accommodations are a right, and thus, should be offered to, and more importantly, made accessible to all. One excellent example of this is in our current work with local trails to identify accessibility strengths as well as needs to make better trails for generations to come. We should all hope for a world in which these types of physical and digital spaces alike can be easily navigated by all: we should take pride in our history. History relies on story-telling, spreading awareness, and sharing information that we know is relevant even when it falls on deaf ears. This July, in celebrating Disability Pride, lets all remember that progress relies on looking back at how far we’ve come, appreciating where we are, and recognizing our commonalities in planning for an even better future.

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Lehigh County COVID Connections
By: Catherine Bogdanski, B.S, SCP Coordinator

Do you live in Lehigh County? Do you offer support or services within Lehigh County? Then you may be eligible to for our COVID Connections project!

In the Spring of 2021, LVCIL launched “Lehigh County COVID Connections” project. The project focuses on providing critical, practical, and timely COVID-related information for the nearly 50,000 persons with disabilities who call Lehigh County home. Throughout the pandemic, Pennsylvanians with disabilities faced a heightened risk in getting access to important information and need this information to keep themselves safe and healthy.

COVID Connections continues to offer twice weekly group peer support sessions, weekly Independent Living Skills sessions, and COVID-19 related information and resources for the disability and aging communities, including family and allies.

Interested residents, organizations, family members, and advocates for disability or aging communities of Lehigh County can contact Catherine at 610-770-9781 Extension 172 or add their name to the email list here.

Questions? Independent Living Skills topic suggestions? Wish to present at a future Independent Living Skills session? Please feel free to call the project coordinator, Catherine Bogdanski at 610-770-9781 Extension 172 or email catherinebogdanski@lvcil.org.


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Lehigh County COVID-19 Connection
Independent Living Skills program July 2022

Medical Prevention and Education
Friday, July 8 @ 10am on Zoom

Join LVCIL and Melissa from Turning Point LV for the LAST session!!
RSVP now to be eligible for a FREE giveaway.

Federal Communication Commission: Affordable Connectivity Program
Friday, July 15th @ 10AM -Zoom

Learn how the program can help connect eligible families and households struggling to afford internet service.

A CIL-ebration 32 years in the making
July 22nd @ 10AM-Zoom
Join LVCIL and advocacy leaders as we commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. What inspires the current advocates and what can we learn from them?

PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation 101
July 29th @ 10AM- ZoomJoin LVCIL and Kelly from OVR to learn the basics of what the PA Office of Rehabilitation has to offer and where to get started.
Please RSVP to attend these programs. ALS & Zoom captioning is provided. Contact Catherine at 610-770-9781 Ext. 172.
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Lehigh County Peer Support Sessions on Zoom
Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 1 to 2 pm
While the sessions are offered virtually, you can call to fin dout when we are going to be meeting again in person. Contact 610-770-9781 Ext. 172
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‘Joy for All Pets’ bring comfort to consumers

Jane Lichtenwalner and her husband, Leon, have been working with the Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living since 2010. Jane and Leon have been supported by different staff members and each staff member found Jane and Leon to be a pleasure to work with and a loving couple.  Unfortunately, Leon passed away on November 24, 2021.

Jane loves animals; especially, her bird, Skipper.  Skipper died a few weeks after Leon died.  LVCIL received several Joy for All Pets robotic cats and dogs that would be donated to consumers.  Rosemary, Jane’s current Community Support Coordinator, felt that Jane would find a lot of joy with her pet.  Jane told Rosemary that she loves dogs, so Rosemary delivered Jane’s dog, Peppy.  Jane expressed great appreciation for Peppy and she loves having a companion.  Jane enjoys when Peppy barks and wags her tail.  LVCIL is thrilled that Jane will have her special companion to bring her joy.

Alt text: A woman sits with a robotic dog.

Jane Lichtenwalner sits with her robotic pet dog, Peppy.

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Q&A with some of LVCIL’s Board of Directors

“Moving the Mission Forward with Meaningful Action”

Check out our Q&A with Winona Schappell, a member of LVCIL’s Board of Directors.

Q: Why does LVCIL matter to you and why are you passionate about its mission?

“LVCIL empowers individuals to make choices by helping to understand the options that are available. I value informed choice decision making.”

Q: What do you want to accomplish as a board member this year?

“Because my term is soon over, I would like to find a community member with financial planning experience to become a board member to help LVCIL build endowment funds which would help support the agency and its consumers.”

Q: What got you interested in serving on the board?

“I had worked in the field of disability services, human services, and special education before retiring, and this was a good fit for my desire to provide community service in retirement.”

Q: Can you share a fun fact about yourself?

“Just returned from a trip to the Galapagos, where I snorkled with sea turtles, penquins, and sea lions.”

Alt text: A woman stands with her hand over her eyes in front a statue that is also in a similar position, in a water fountain.

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Check out our Q&A with Jacqui Moore, a member of LVCIL’s Board of Directors.

Q: Why does LVCIL matter to you and why are you passionate about its mission?

“My son has Special Needs and my wish/goal is for him to have the most full and independent life he can achieve.  LVCIL provides the opportunity and training that has helped him achieve those goals.”

Q: What do you want to accomplish as a board member this year?

“Really not sure.  BUT I would like to see more recognition for LVCIL whether that be promotional or informational.”

Q: What got you interested in serving on the board?

“I have been volunteering for LVCIL for years.  Being on the Board allows me to see what makes the operation function and be an independent voice of a parent whose child was positively influenced by LVCIL.”

Q: Can you share a fun fact about yourself?“Years ago used to indirectly work for Gloria Steinem.”

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Check out our LVCIL board member Q&A with Jeff Drobil, our board vice president. 

Q: Why does LVCIL matter to you and why are you passionate about its mission?

“The LVCIL reduces social isolation and provides education, information and access to services. The S2L, fishing event and boating event are wonderful experiences for all people that attend.”

Q: What do you want to accomplish as a board member this year?

“Explore technology versus real estate, increase diversity, recruit board members and support funding. Ensure policy, bylaws and guidelines are up to date.”

Q: What got you interested in serving on the board?

“I wanted to improve my community and strive to make a more inclusive society.”

Q: Can you share a fun fact about yourself?

“I attended an agricultural VOTECH high school in Philadelphia.”

Alt text: A man wearing a suit and glasses smiles at the camera.
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Check out our Board Q&A with Tony Swartz, a member of our Board of Directors at LVCIL.

Q: Why does LVCIL matter to you and why are you passionate about its mission?

“As a person with a disability, I am dedicated to LVCIL’s mission to advance the Independent Living movement. Much of my life I have worked in and have served on the boards of “for the blind” agencies. I have observed how the Independent Living philosophy is at the core of how LVCIL is governed and the service it provides to each of us. I now feel that I’m finally serving an organization absent of paternalism and respectful of those whom it seeks to serve.”

Q: What do you want to accomplish as a board member this year?

“While continuing my work on the Personnel/Governance Committee, I would like to discuss and deepen our awareness among us as members of the board of the corrosive assumptions ableism has on legislated programs, services, and policies impacting the lives of those of us with disabilities.”

Q: What got you interested in serving on the board?

“Over the years, I have known those involved with LVCIL in one way or another back to the Operation Overcome days. So many of them were individuals of great character and conviction. So finally, with Amy’s persistent urging, I have come to a welcoming home.”

Q: Can you share a fun fact about yourself?

“About ten years ago I was introduced to audible dart throwing. I have built a dart stand in my home and I throw daily. I love it and better yet, it keeps me off the streets.”

Alt text: Image shows a man in a suit in front of a blue background.

LVCIL thanks all our board members for the valuable service they provide!
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LVCIL Board of Directors 2022-23

  • Amy C. Beck, LSW, Executive Director, LVCIL
  • Dr. Scott Berman, Consulting Psychiatrist
  • Dr. Domenico Cavaiuolo, East Stroudsburg University
  • Dr. Jeffrey Drobil, Board Vice President, LVHN
  • Deborah Einhorn, Board Secretary, Air Products & Chemicals, Inc.
  • LeeAnne Fura, Carol Walck & Associates
  • Maia Geiger
  • Janice Haley-Schwoyer, Board President, Advertising Consultant, Jangle Advertizing, ret.
  • Dr. Lisa Marie McCauley, Board Treasurer  Retired, President Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools
  • Jacqui Moore, City of Allentown
  • Sean Nickerson
  • Winona Schappell, M.Ed, HSP-BC
  • Nancy Serulneck Ret., Bangor Area School District
  • Anthony Swartz Ret., Lehigh County

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Thank you to our recent donors!
The following donors made contributions to LVCIL between the dates of March 15 and June 28, 2022. If you would like to make a donation, visit www.lvcil.org/donate

Your support helps make the good work we do a reality.

Air Products
AmazonSmile
Michael T. Andrews
Mark and Nancy Bacak
Jason and Amy Barnett
Mark V. Bechta
Amy and David Beck
Melissa Blocker
Christine Bott
John and Ruth Chanitz
Peter and Monica Choke
Annette and Jeffrey Drobil
Nils Dubin
Helen Paty Eiffe
Deborah Einhorn
Marie Ford-Clemens
Walter M. Fort Jr.
Cinda Heydt
David Hoglund
Sr. Janice Marie Johnson
Jodi Jones
Rabbi Allen Juda
Rebecca Kile
Eugene Kunkel
John Kurtz
John R. Mehler
Joe Michener
Jacqui Moore
Kathy and Lawrence Nickerson
Paul F. Paskoff
Sharon Polaha
Elizabeth A. Powers
Kelly Rindock
Jennifer Rupnik
Denise and Colleen Ryan
Jan Schwoyer
Jason Serfass
Carol Shiner Wilson
Rhonda J. Shive
Heather Snyder
Jeffrey Stein
Step Up Services LLC
Anthony and Carol Swartz
Diana Sweeney
Carolyn D. Wagner
Barry Walakovits
Patricia A. Wolfe
Zachary Barker Chittick Foundation
Julian Zhang
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Buttered Crumb pie fundraiser
Our annual pie sale fundraiser with The Buttered Crumb will be back in November. Start looking for promotions from LVCIL again in October as we love supporting this local bakery while raising funds for the CIL.

Alt text: Image shows a slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream on top.
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Alt text: Image shows a green background with a wine glass image and a guitar and descriptive text about a winery event.
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SAVE THE DATE for LVCIL’s Breaking Barriers Bash at Lehigh Carbon Community College! Thursday, May 13, 2023.
Our special guest will be Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Reed.
Stay tuned for more details from LVCIL.

Alt text: Image shows a football player running on a field.
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We’re hiring!
Are you ready to make a difference in the lives of young people with disabilities looking to enter the workforce?

Apply for our job coach positions today. Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living (LVCIL) is looking for a Transition and Employment Coach based in our Allentown office and a Career/Academic Coach for our SEED program at Lehigh Carbon Community College in Schnecksville.

Apply here for the T&E Coach [LINK]: http://ow.ly/74KT50JMvZY

Apply here for the Career/Academic Coach at SEED [LINK]: https://www.indeed.com/viewjob?t=careeracademic+coach&jk=13e606d861d66ce3&_ga=2.65040679.889609017.1656595635-445709579.1645620757

Alt text: A man stands near a grocery store aisle lined with milk.
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HAVE A GREAT SUMMER!

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