Independent Living History
CRIL History and Independent Living Philosophy
Community Resources for Independent Living (CRIL) was organized as a self-help organization in 1979 by a small group of persons with disabilities (consumers). This group was committed to improving the range of choices and support for consumers in southern Alameda County. A group had formed successfully in Berkeley to support consumers in living more independently and this model inspired the formation of a similar organization to serve the southern part of the county.
There are 28 Independent Living Centers (ILCs) in California and over 200 in the United States. One of the first ILCs was formed in Berkeley, California by Ed Roberts and other college students at UC Berkeley during the late 1960s and early 70s. They advocated for basic rights on campus as well as in the community. They had no accessible place to live on campus except the infirmary. The campus and the community were not accessible. If a required class was on the third floor, they heard "that was too bad." There were no elevators. No accommodations were attempted and civil rights for persons with disabilities were few.
Ed and others advocated for the rights of all persons with disabilities so that persons with disabilities could interact on an equal basis, to make decisions about the course of their own lives. These advocates also knew that rights would not solve the problem because people with disabilities had been socialized to believe that they could not make decisions for themselves.
An independent living model evolved, seeking to bring people together, particularly people with disabilities, with support, advocacy, and skills teaching. Advocacy was and is important for building civil rights laws and educating the public about our needs. Teaching skills in both systems and self-advocacy is even more necessary now for persons with disabilities to work towards enforcement and equality in individual situations as well as systemic situations.
The independent living philosophy in ILCs promotes consumer control (people with disabilities involved in decision-making, service delivery, management, and establishment of the policy and direction of the center); self-help and self-advocacy; development of peer relations and peer role models; and equal access to services, programs, activities, resources, and facilities in the community.
Johnnie Lacy has been described as; fearless, ferocious, defiantly black and disabled, confident, and heroic. She was someone's friend, mentor, she was a leader and pioneer for the disability community. She was a woman and a black woman and a black woman with a disability. As Johnnie said in one article, "She couldn't be discriminated if she was just a woman or just a black woman but because she was disabled then they could get away with discrimination."
Johnnie Lacy was a cherished Hayward area community and civil rights advocate. Johnnie was a well known Executive Director for CRIL (Community Resources for Independent Living). Johnnie Lacy was named Woman of the Year by the California State Senate in 1988, She took over CRIL in 1981 - after the center had gone through two leadership changes in its first two years of operation.
"Our mission is to help disabled people to get jobs and medical services and do whatever they can do to maintain their independence," Lacy once explained. Johnnie Lacy led CRIL (Community Resources for Independent Living) in its early days from 1981 to 1994, establishing the center as the premier disability mentoring and peer service center for people with disabilities living in southern Alameda County. After helping found CIL- Berkeley, Johnnie was encouraged to take over the helm at the newly created CRIL, working tirelessly to develop CRIL's visibility and presence in Hayward. Johnnie obtained CDBG funding from the City of Hayward, among other significant donations and led a campaign that raised $350,000 to build the Hayward CRIL Center on A Street in Hayward - a project that was completed in 1984.
Along with her work at CRIL, Johnnie served on the state Attorney General's Commission on Disability and was a central figure in Hayward's nonprofit community. She always worked cooperatively to strengthen services for people who needed them. During Johnnie's work at the Disability Law Resource Center (DLRC) Johnnie was quoted to say; "I always expect good results, and that I very seldom am disappointed. A lot of it is because I do have a positive attitude about things I do. But out of that positive attitude, I think I work a little harder."
Following her retirement in 1994, Johnnie remained active on Hayward city and community commissions, including the Commission on Personnel and Affirmative Action. She also served on Mayor's Disability Council for the city and county of San Francisco.
In 2006-07, when CRIL's building underwent an extensive remodel, the center's front conference room was named in Johnnie's honor at CRIL's Grand Reopening. A "Johnnie Lacy" plaque is on the side wall and articles about her work are on display. Johnnie was truly a remarkable woman and strong disability rights champion. She will be forever remembered by her family, friends, CRIL and Hayward as a strong leader and passionate advocate.
CRIL’s Board of Directors
CRIL's board members extend their time, expertise and leadership as volunteers dedicated to CRIL's mission. More than one-half of our board members are persons with significant disabilities, substantially limiting their ability to obtain, maintain or advance in employment and/or function independently in the community.
Dorene Giacopini, President
Cecelia Fusich, Vice President
Ryan Easterly, Treasurer/Secretary
John Bird, Member-At-Large
Katharine Hsiao, Board Member
Chris Finn, Board Member
Marie Kayal, Board Member
Randy Dana, Board Member
Some of the other grants supporting CRIL's work are derived from:
- City of Hayward
- United States Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
- CA Department of Rehabilitation
- Public Authority for In-Home Supportive Services in Alameda County
- City of Dublin
- City of Pleasanton
- City of Livermore
- Kaiser Permanente Diablo Valley Community Fund
- City of Fremont
- Pacific ADA Center
- San Francisco Foundation
- Walter & Elise Haas Fund
- PG&E – Care Program
- Bank of the West
- Cisco Foundation
- Wells Fargo Bank
- Alameda County Tobacco Control Coalition (American Lung Association of California)
- Western Digital Foundation
- The Hindu Community & Cultural Center, Livermore