Liberty Resources

Posted: March 24, 2010 in KWRU

One of the agencies that we visited today was Liberty Resources which is an organization that advocates with and for disable individuals to increase their access to independent living situations. Liberty Resources works to get disabled people out of nursing homes where they might face less than optimal living conditions and be denied certain freedoms because they are motor impaired or require assistance to some daily tasks. As an advocacy organization they work to empower disabled people to live in accessible homes that add to their freedom as persons instead of limiting it.

Today was really a true learning experience for me because we were working with an organization that I didn’t even know there was a need for. The hallways of the Liberty Resources office are lined with stories of their consumers who are beyond grateful for the assistance they have given to find affordable, accessible, and independent living situations that are community based so that they would not be confined to nursing homes. I was really moved by the passion that German (our guide for the day) spoke with in regards to the work that he does with Liberty Resources. He also spoke to us about the work of another group that he is a part of, Disabled in Action (DIA). DIA is an activist group that has fought to get rights for disabled people including the passage of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the 1990’s and the struggles to have all parts of the act actually enforced. It was amazing to hear about the activist history of DIA and the work that they have done in Philly (and other cities). Two of their major actions were to get the curb cut down so that wheelchair users could have access to the sidewalk and to get the public transportation system to become accessible. German explained that DIA involves disabled people fighting for the rights of disabled people because they know what they need best.

Accessible transportation and cut down curbs are definitely not things that I imagined people had to fight for but DIA did just that and was quite successful. As German talked about his involvement with Liberty Resources and DIA, it was clear that although the organizations were working towards getting rights for disabled people specifically, they were also fighting for equality. A lack of access to any public resource for one group means that another group could easily face that same lack and so their fight really is our fight too. Riding the bus and being able to get off the sidewalk safely are things that we all take for granted.

Visiting Liberty Resources gave me a new perspective on the advocacy work that organizations do. The fact is they have to work harder to get their voices heard which is why forming coalitions with organizations such as KWRU is so important. There is so much that we can learn from each other by simply working together. It was interesting to see that there is a common link between KWRU, DIA, and Liberty Resources and that common link is affordable and accessible housing. By advocating together they can reach a larger audience and make a greater change.

We ended our day by having a meet and greet with Penn Haven which is a student group at UPenn that is dedicated to learning about issues related to homelessness and combating the issue in Philly. It was really refreshing to meet with students who were interested in the things that I was interested in. We have a certain amount of privilege being Ivy League students and recognizing that privilege is important. Even more important is not letting that privilege keep us from really learning about the issues that exist outside of the safe bubbles of our respective universities. I was excited to hear about what they were doing and to let them know about what our Alternative Breaks program was all about. The interaction definitely left me hopeful about what we could all do to address social justice issues. I hope that Alternative Breaks will inspire students to remain active in their communities and that it will develop leaders who promote social activism on campus.

Liberty Resources:

http://www.libertyresources.org/

Penn Haven:

http://old.economichumanrights.org/m4ol/dailyreport/2010/01/penn-haven-protests-poverty.html

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