Gloria’s Story: Volunteering at CIDNY

When I retired, sitting at home became too much. I am 65 plus and now live in an assisted living facility in Manhattan.

I came to NYC on November 16, 1960, as a girl from Bridgeville, Delaware. I have had many jobs, but my most rewarding employment was working with the disabled. I was a Mentally Ill–Chemical Abuse counselor (MICA), a benefits advisor, and I have assisted people in obtaining housing. I was also a placement coordinator at Howie the Harp. (Howie the Harp is a training program for people with disabilities to become peer counselors.) 

I am now a volunteer at the Center for the Independence of the Disabled (CIDNY).

At first, I was nervous. My voice goes UP and I speak fast. After a few weeks, I came to love being here. The people I work with are understanding and willing to help. They are friendly and we respect each other. When I walk into the office, my world lightens up. I am doing the work I love, in an office with people I respect, and who have the confidence in me that I can complete any task when asked.

I help with a variety of things that need to be completed: data entry, making phones calls to government offices, and following up on participants and surveys. I also cover the front desk when needed.

I am an advocate for people with disabilities. I have advocated and will continue to advocate to keep Medicaid. I will continue to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.

I went to an MTA board meeting as part of CIDNY’s Access-A-Ride organizing work. The day before the meeting, an Access-A-Ride taxi was supposed to pick me up at the office at 2 pm. At 3:20 pm, he arrived around the corner (on 13th St.). He helped me into the car and put my walker in the trunk. He insisted that I would have to pay the full fare, stating he “was not one of the drivers that picked up people in wheelchairs.” When I would not get out, he called the police on me. After he spoke to Paratransit, he told the police everything was fine.  

At the MTA meeting, I shared my experience. The President and the Vice President of the MTA gave me their direct numbers.

They stated they would be more careful regarding choosing the car companies they contract with. Due to working with CIDNY staff, I was able to make the needed connections to advocate for myself

I have had very few problems with the broker car services since I spoke at the June MTA board.

I am also the president of the residential council at the 74th St. residence and I fight there for the residents to get the services they need. This includes the money from the Equal Grant, money given by New York State to the residence, for the residents. I try to make sure the money is spent on the residents, not for whatever the property managers want to spend it on.

Here at CIDNY, I connected with the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program who now have assigned an Ombudsman to my facility. I will continue to have meetings and inform the residents of any progress.

I am a free woman and can speak up for myself and others. I am proud. I will not stand for injustice.