Resource fair puts aid in one place

For people with disabilities and their caregivers

Ella Mae Cotten, left, and Debbie Ridgway, both from Eldon, speak to Pathways Community Health grant development specialist Sara Ferrill and public relations coordinator Johnathan Lowe during a resource fair for persons with disabilities, families and caregivers at the Capital Mall on Wednesday. The Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC), Missouri Rehabilitation and Employment (MORE) Group and Capital Mall partnered to host the event.

Ella Mae Cotten, left, and Debbie Ridgway, both from Eldon, speak to Pathways Community Health grant development specialist Sara Ferrill and public relations coordinator Johnathan Lowe during a resource fair for persons with disabilities, families and caregivers at the Capital Mall on Wednesday. The Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC), Missouri Rehabilitation and Employment (MORE) Group and Capital Mall partnered to host the event. Photo by Kris Wilson.

A resource fair at the Capital Mall on Wednesday was a one-stop shop for people with disabilities and their caregivers.

The event — hosted by the Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC), Missouri Rehabilitation and Employment Group (MORE Group) and Capital Mall — included nearly 50 booths, with agencies such as Pathways, Capital Region Medical Center and NAMI Missouri.

“This is for people with disabilities who have a difficult time finding resources in the community,” said Melinda Cardone, program manager for the ILRC. “We wanted to get as many resources here as we possibly could because it’s easier access here and it’s on a bus route.”

She said the need is high for disability resources in the community.

“For some, getting out and getting information, there’s just so many barriers,” Cardone said. “Barriers such as ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance and transportation.”

Susan Roemer, director of professional services with MORE Group, said she hopes the resource fair brings some concerns to the forefront.

“So many of our legislators and representatives don’t have a true sense of what we do,” she said. “It’s really all of these agencies helping individuals get to a place where they’re ready and able to get out into the community for employment or volunteering.”

Tammey Sweezer and Susan Summers attended the resource fair and said they received some helpful information.

Sweezer hosts a fibromyalgia support group for the ILRC.

“I came because it’s an opportunity to see what I can do to help the group and community,” she said.

Fred and Joan Bargmann attended to find a solution for a problem Fred is having with his walker. Joan said she thought they found someone who can get them more information about the issue.

While Cardone said the resource fair is the first one the ILRC has hosted, the agency does host other small events for consumers.

“We give out a lot of information and give referrals to other organizations,” she said.

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