R.B.Home Again

“If it wasn’t for the Community Reintegration Program I would still be stuck in the nursing home.” – Robert Ballantini

Rob was introduced to LIFE CIL’s Community Reintegration Program during the spring of 2015. Rob had been living in nursing homes for over two years due to medical complications, and was more than ready to live independently again. He has always been determined to live a full life, even though he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease 20 years ago.

With the help of the Community Reintegration Program, Rob moved out of the nursing home in the Spring of 2016 and has regained his ability to be active in the community. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus, and is an avid fan of the Bloomington Thunder hockey team. He attends games frequently and enjoys having the freedom to do what he wants without any restrictions. Rob is a very social person; he has coordinated group trips for his apartment complex and is working with his property manager to plan future events. He has participated in the annual Parkinson’s Unity Walk in New York for five years and plans to take part in another walk in Washington D.C. this summer.  Rob was also an active participant in LIFE CIL’s Community Advocacy Training class. He has taken trips Springfield, had conversations with legislators and has become a strong advocate for himself and others.

Rob is extremely thankful for the help that he received through the Community Reintegration Program. He says the financial support, assistance with household items, and the coordination of personal assistant services were all crucial to his success in living on his own. Rob receives daily support from a personal assistant which allows him to maintain his independence in the community. Rob strives to do as much as he can for himself and continues to live by his philosophy: “I will defeat the disease; it won’t defeat me.”

The Community Reintegration Program can assist individuals who have a disability, ages 18-59, and individuals of any age who have a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or AIDS.  Besides providing someone with a new start in life, the cost savings for the state is approximately $20,000 a year for someone to live in their home with support services verses living in the nursing home.

Community Reintegration Benefits:

  • Assistance with locating and securing housing
  • Assistance with the first months’ rent and security deposit
  • Assistance with household supplies, furniture and first months’ groceries
  • Assistance with home modifications and assistive equipment
  • Assistance with independent living skills training
  • Assessment of services through the DRS- Home Services Program
  • Provides personal assistant referrals and personal assistant management training
  • Provides case management, advocacy and support

The Community Reintegration Program gives individuals such a great opportunity, and we would like to assist you or anyone that you may know that could benefit from this program.

For More information about the Community Reintegration Program, contact our Community Reintegration Advocate, Andrea Kindseth.  She can be reached at (309) 663-5433 or via email: email hidden; JavaScript is required.



Looking for Personal Assistants

If you are interested in assisting individuals with disabilities in their home to be able to live independently, we would like to get you on our referral list!

LIFE CIL’s Personal Assistant Program is looking for people wanting to assist people with disabilities with their in-home care. No medical background or experience necessary.

Please stop by our Bloomington or Pontiac office or visit our website at http://www.lifecil.org/employment/personal-assistant/ for an application.

Return the application to Vicky Hogan, Community Living Advocate, and she will be in contact with you about the next steps you will need to take, including scheduling you for a mandatory orientation.

Current pay associated with Home Services Program is $13.00 an hour.

To attend a scheduled, upcoming orientation, please turn in your application at least two days prior to the orientation so that Vicky can contact you to confirm your attendance in the upcoming orientation.  The next orientations scheduled are:

  • Thursday, June 8  9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 22 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

If you have any questions about our Personal Assistant referral list or for more information, please contact Vicky Hogan, our Community Living Advocate at 309/663-5433 or via email: email hidden; JavaScript is required.



Why Take Public Transit?

1. Gas prices are going up – save money on your commute!

2. It’s environmentally friendly

3. Get some “me” time and let Connect Transit do the driving

4. Keep those New Year’s resolutions to be more active – walk to a bus stop!

Plan to attend a FREE Bus Transit Orientation at LIFE CIL or schedule one at your organization!  Learn about public transportation, how to plan a trip and ride, who is eligible for Connect Mobility and how to apply, and MORE!

Orientations are given by Shannon Tarkowski, our Transportation Specialist, either at LIFE CIL in Bloomington, or at your organization (presentations can be customized to fit your needs).  The next orientations scheduled at LIFE CIL are:

  • Tuesday, June 6 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
  • Thursday, June 29  3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

RSVP, request an accommodation (large print, interpreter, etc), or schedule an orientation by contacting Shannon at 309/663-5433 or via email: email hidden; JavaScript is required.



FREE Low Vision Fair in Clinton

Event hosted by LIFE Center for Independent Living (LIFE CIL) and supported by the Illinois Department of Human Services

A Free Low Vision Fair will be held on Wednesday, June 21, 2017, from 3:30-6:30 pm at the Dewitt County Friendship Center, 410 E Main, in Clinton. Admission is free. There will be workshops, vendor booths, and access to community agencies. It is hosted by LIFE Center for Independent Living (LIFE CIL) and supported by the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Older Blind Independent Living Services Program.

Presentations will be provided by the following professionals:

  • Daniel Brownstone from Eye Surgical Associates in Bloomington will talk and answer questions about age-related vision loss.
  • Andreas Heim of Magnified Vision in Morton will demonstrate how CCTVs (Closed-Circuit Televisions) and video magnifiers can increase text and image sizes using monitors of varying sizes.
  • Kathie Spegal from Illinois Radio Reader and Rose Chenoweth, Director of Illinois Talking Book Outreach Center will be talking about their programs and will register new patrons.
  • Kim Tarkowski, Vision Access Advocate from LIFE CIL, will share how seniors with low vision can receive low vision and assistive devices at no charge.

Low vision participants will be able to try technology helpful to accomplishing everyday tasks. Assistive devices include talking clocks and watches, large numbered clocks and watches, large print calendars, address books, and check registers, writing guides, hand-held & standing magnifiers, and more.

For more information, please contact Kim Tarkowski, our Vision Access Advocate at 309/663-5433, toll-free 888/543-3245, or via email: email hidden; JavaScript is required.



LIFE CIL Receives Grant From Illinois Prairie Community Foundation

Bloomington, Ill. – LIFE Center for Independent Living (LIFE CIL) has received a grant for $2,500 from Illinois Prairie Community Foundation.

The grant is funded through Illinois Prairie Community Foundation’s General grant category. The grant will help LIFE CIL fund T’NT (Teens in Transition), a proven curriculum designed to prepare high school students with disabilities to become employed, independent members of their communities.

“We greatly appreciate the grant from Illinois Prairie Community Foundation which will help us implement a much needed program in our community,” said Rickielee Benecke, Advocacy & Advancement Director of LIFE CIL. “Students with disabilities are at a severe disadvantage in pursuing continuing education or employment after high school compared to their non-disabled peers and this program will help these students overcome those disparities.”

“By funding programs like LIFE CIL’s T’NT, Illinois Prairie Community Foundation ensures that quality programs enrich the communities in which we live,” said Greg Meyer, Executive Director of Illinois Prairie Community Foundation. “We are committed to helping build strong communities in Central Illinois.”

During the current grant cycle, Illinois Prairie Community Foundation awarded $150,200 in three categories of grants to 54 programs in McLean, DeWitt, Livingston and Logan Counties. Grants ranged from $600-$8,200. Funding came from the Jerome Mirza Foundation, donors to the Foundation’s annual campaign and endowments.

LIFE CIL’s mission is to advance equality and integration of all persons with disabilities. LIFE CIL assists persons with disabilities to become empowered with the knowledge and skills to make their own life choices, pursue their own goals of self-sufficiency, and fully participate in their communities.

About Illinois Prairie Community Fund
Illinois Prairie Community Foundation, now in its 21st year, encourages and facilitates philanthropy in McLean, DeWitt, Livingston and Logan Counties by connecting donors who care with causes that matter to them. The foundation currently manages assets of $11.2 million in 145 funds including donor advised, agency, and scholarship funds and endowments.



Having Trouble Hearing on the Telephone?

LIFE Center for Independent Living may be able to help!  LIFE CIL is a selection center for the ITAC amplified telephone program.


If you have a landline telephone, there are currently 5 amplified phones to choose from. Come and test the phones and find out what works best for you!

If you have a cell phone that you have trouble hearing on, there is now a cellular phone amplifier you can get also!


  • You must be a resident of the State of Illinois and provide proof of residency (copy of drivers license, state ID card, OR piece of mail showing same address as application)
  •  You must provide a copy of your telephone bill for a landline amplified phone and/or a copy of your cellular phone bill for a cell phone amplifier
  •  An ITAC amplified phone application; you’ll need to have your audiologist, physician OR certified DRS counselor complete the back of the application to certify you have a hearing loss

To receive an application or for more information, contact Brianne at LIFE CIL at 309/663-5433, toll free at 888/543-3245 or by email at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Keep in mind that you are eligible for a new phone every 3 years through this program.  So, if you have benefited from this program, but you have had your phone three years or more, please come back in and see what new technology is available that you could benefit from!



Like us on Facebook!

You can click on the LIKE button to the right, or you can visit our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/lifecil.  We are hoping we will be able to further assist the community through social media and keep in touch with those who want to know what LIFE CIL is up to!



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Upcoming Events
  • Thursday, August 3: Illinois Imagines Meeting 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 3: Low Vision Support Group Meeting at Westminster Village (2025 E. Lincoln, Bloomington) 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, August 8: Human Services Council Meeting 12:00 noon – 1:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 10: Board Committee Meetings: Board Development begins at 4:15 p.m.; Community Relations begins at 5:15 p.m.
  • Tuesday, August 15: Transition Planning Committee 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, August 16: CEFT Meeting 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 17: Personal Assistant Orientation 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 31: Board of Directors Meeting 5:15 p.m.
  • Monday, September 4: LIFE CIL offices CLOSED for Labor Day holiday. Have a safe and happy holiday!
  • Thursday, September 7: Illinois Imagines Meeting 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 7: Low Vision Support Group Meeting at Westminster Village (2025 E. Lincoln, Bloomington) 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, September 12: Human Services Council Meeting 12:00 noon – 1:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, September 19: Transition Planning Committee Meeting 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, September 20: CEFT Meeting 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 21: Personal Assistant Orientation 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 28: Board of Directors Meeting 5:15 p.m.