Sunday, July 26, 2015

Highlighting Local Disability Advocates on the Anniversary of the ADA Law

July 26, 2015 is the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and we sat down with Shannon Monyak and Kathy Foley from Services for Independent Living, Inc. based out of Euclid, OH. Shannon is the Director of Programs at SIL, and Kathy is the Director of Advocacy. They shared a bit about how SIL works to trumpet the cause and awareness of the ADA through supporting both individuals and communities.

"As a center for independent living," said Kathy, "our whole goal is to help people with disabilities of all kinds to remain in the community of their choice. So, we have a number of services and supports that are available … along with community education and advocacy efforts[.]"

A Variety of Services

With specifics varying from service to service, SIL cares for people of all ages who are dealing with disabilities, from newborns in NICU to elderly people in the final stages of life.

"We have independent living skills training," Shannon shared, "peer support, advocacy and information referral, which are four core services. We're now adding a fifth, which is transition [where] we do nursing home relocation through the Ohio Department of Medicaid. We're also starting youth transition where we … partnered with a specific school district in the southwest area of Cleveland."

"The other thing that we do," Kathy added, "is that we have a program called the ADA inaccessibility services. It's really a two-part program for individuals with disabilities and for the community. For individuals, we have a small fund that can help with minor home modifications [such as] … widening doors, adding grab bars, that sort of thing. We can help with that. Or, if we don't have the funding, we can help identify where funding can be found[.]"

"On the community side," Kathy went on, "we can help community agencies, colleges, businesses, hospitals [and other community entities] with understanding what their requirements and obligations are under the Americans with Disabilities Act. We can also go in and do an ADA survey of the physical facility [as well as] their business practices. [We] do a lot of community education around ADA. For example, we just did a disability awareness and ADA [presentation] as it pertains to hospitals[.]"

Helping People Help Themselves

Through the various programs SIL offers, from peer support to education to transition into independent living, the organization aims to help people to obtain the life skills and confidence they need to thrive.

"Individuals are being taught how to become better self advocates," Kathy said. "[They're learning] how to speak up for their rights, how to speak up for their wishes. That, I think, is what sets us apart."

With their new transitions program, they are not only helping people move out of nursing homes, but they are helping young people to live on their own for the first time, learn how to balance a checkbook, learn how to do their laundry. The SIL's array of services goes beyond simply addressing ADA law and advocacy to addressing the whole person and helping them to learn necessary life skills, many of which aren't taught anywhere else.

Housing, Transportation, Employment, Healthcare

Housing, transportation, employment and healthcare accessibility issues are big ones when it comes to those who are living with a disability. SIL helps people to navigate these major areas while also working with companies, systems and communities to create more accessible choices.

"We do an awful lot of work on the systems change side of the fence," said Kathy, "because the reality is that while we envision a society that's accessible to all, we don't have that yet. We're moving towards that, but we're not there yet. So, we bring the voice of the consumer to the table on systems chance efforts, whether it's local, state or federal."

"Housing is huge," she went on. "Being able to find affordable, accessible and safe housing is a huge challenge, especially with … people that are trying to transition out of nursing homes. And housing ties in with employment and healthcare and transportation. We're working a lot on transportation advocacy right now to build a more equitable transportation system that is more responsive to on-demand. Right now, people needing specialized transportation, lift equipment transportation, usually it's five days to a week ahead that they have to plan, whereas you and I can say, 'Oh, I'm going to hop in my car or I'm going to grab the mainline bus and I'm going to go visit my friend.' Folks that we work with can't always do that."


If you would like to find out more about the programs offered through Services for Independent Living, Inc., you can find them on the web at or reach them by phone at 216-731-1529.

Here at HandyPro, we make your well-being our priority. Our interview series goes hand in hand with that effort, and we hope you find it helpful! For more information on how we can help you make your home a home for life, visit us at or call me (Brian Pritchard) at 216-212-7531.

To listen to our full conversation, please Click Here

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Local Veteran Paves the Way for Community Veteran Support

July stands out to us here at HandyPro for a number of reasons. July is the month we celebrate Independence Day and honor our military veterans, but today is also Disability Awareness Day and we are quickly approaching the 25th anniversary of the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA) being passed into law. To pay homage to all of these, we sat down with disabled veteran David Cox, the man behind the website.

David served in the Marine Corps from 1990 - 1994. When he returned to civilian life in Cleveland, he noticed that veterans would flock to the local VA hospital looking for help, but many weren't receiving what they needed.

"I would see probably 100 or so people sitting in the lobby," said Cox, "all veterans, and they're looking for help from something, whether it's just a hot dog or a benefit or doctors or whatever they needed. They're just sitting there. They don't have any appointments; they're just looking for help. They would sit there all day, and some would get some help but most wouldn't. And at the end of the day, unfortunately, they would be told that they had to leave at 4:30pm, and they [could] come back tomorrow and try again. I would walk through there and I would be like, 'There's got to be a way that I could do something to help veterans.'"

"I want to be clear that I am a supporter of the VA administration and what they can do," Cox went on, "but a lot of times their hands are tied and/or they don't have the capability of helping these military people when they come back from war or from wherever. You have so many military people out there who have PTSD or traumatic brain injury or all this stuff, and to be honest with you, we're not prepared for it. We don't have the education for the doctors to help these individuals. We don't have the programs to help these individuals, and we have people that sit at the front door to greet you and they don't know what to do. They're turning these veterans down for help. They're sending them back home. And just [for] example with PTSD, that's why we have such a high rate of suicide of American Military people at this time."

Creating a New Support Hub

After seeing so many veterans in need, David got the idea to create an online support center where vets could go to get answers about what benefits were available to them and receive other important information that could serve them. The bottom line is that Cox has a passion for helping people, and he is incredibly driven to do so. The beginning of his mission statement on the website reads: "As a fellow disabled Veteran, I will be 'Relentless' in researching and posting all benefits available to our American Military community."

"I use that word 'relentless' a lot," said Cox. "A lot of people don't, and I think it's a powerful word. See, you can only do so much with money as far as having the money to operate your organization. If you don't have that passion behind you, you're not really helping as many people as you possibly can. I'm going to do this whether I'm rich, poor, indifferent. I'm going to sit there, find out somebody's needs and I'm going to find a way to get them some type of help whether it's through my organization or multiple organizations here in Cleveland, Ohio. That's my goal."

Building the Network

David's goal is to grow his website to where any need that a veteran has can be filled by participating individuals, businesses and organizations. "My website originally started as [me] trying to help connect veterans with the proper people that can get their benefits moving forward, helped or anything done with at all," he shared. "And when I was doing this, my passion expanded where I will help veterans with whatever they need. … I want to [get] my website where you are a veteran, you need help with a painter [for example] and you … click Ohio, then you click Cuyahoga County and then everything you possibly need is going to be right there[.] Painting, auto repair, attorneys, lawn care--anything you can think of is all right there, available and it's provided by mostly veteran-owned [businesses]. [I want to build this database] to be in every state where they can go on there for free and get whatever they want."

"Right now," he went on, "what I do personally is I know people in the area, like I've got a gentleman who does free plumbing as far as he does the labor, they pay for the parts. I've got an auto store that pays for labor, [the vet] pay for parts. Those are the types of things I'm speaking of that will really help veterans get through their day, get through their month, get through their year. … HandyPro goes out of their way to help veterans get what they need as far as construction within their homes for, let's say, getting into a shower or getting into a bath or making the doorway wider for them to get inside with their wheelchairs. … I need HandyPro's help. I can't do it all on my own. … I need the local VFWs, American Legion. I need my networking where I connected with guys that specifically find out where a veteran's benefits are and whether they can push them through or not for them. … It's networking; everything is networking." 

If you or someone you know could be one of these veteran-supporting businesses or individuals, call David Cox at 216-403-1563 or find him on the web at

"Go the local hospital and help out," Cox suggested. "Volunteer when you can. Give money if you can. Do whatever it takes to help one veteran. I'm not asking you to help a million veterans; I'm asking you to help one. And if you help one and I help one and they help one, now we're going to make a dent."


Here at HandyPro, we make your well-being our priority. Our interview series goes hand in hand with that effort, and we hope you find it helpful! For more information on how we can help you make your home a home for life, visit us at or call me (Brian Pritchard) at 216-212-7531.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Cleveland-Area Entrepreneur Supports Clean, Healthy Living

From private residences to public buildings to area businesses, there are times when a large-scope disinfectant or air-born contaminant removal are necessary. Local clean-living pioneer Brett Davis operates two companies that provide respective aspects of these services: The Ecosense Company and BioSweep.

"In a broad perspective," said Davis, "what we do is we protect people, businesses, municipalities and allied healthcare providers from community-acquired infections, germs, bacteria, viruses, mold and odors. The BioSweep business focuses primarily on air-born contamination with a sub-specialty on removing odors[.] ... The Ecosense portion of the business focuses on the environmental disinfection markets, [with] preventative type of services that [keep] the individuals or businesses from contracting infections or germs as well as treating any types of outbreaks."

Brett has made it his mission to ensure that his customers have access to reasonably priced, environmentally friendly services. "In this day and age, being environmentally sensitive is a responsibility[.] For one, a solution has to be effective. It has to accomplish what we're trying to do if we're trying to kill a particular type of odor or destroy some sort of smell or bacteria. Secondly, it has to be environmentally friendly. Fortunately, we're at the point right now where there are wonderful types of solutions that allow us to be able to achieve high-level results and to be able to destroy some very, very difficult diseases ... and do so in an environmentally friendly manner."

When an individual or business goes it alone, these solutions can be incredibly expensive. That's why Davis and his team have invested in ownership of the requisite tools and technologies so that the end consumer doesn't have to do so themselves. This, Davis explained, saves the customer money, as all anyone has to pay for is application of the solution rather than all of the equipment and accessories necessary to achieve it. "Most people," Davis said, "if they have a choice [to do] the environmentally friendly [thing] ... and there's not a cost premium, they’re going to gravitate towards something that is safer to use."

Safety of the products is paramount, Davis went on to explain, particularly when working with the elderly. "When serving an elderly population, or [anyone with a compromised immune system], not only [do we] have to be concerned with infections and diseases, but we have to be responsible in the types of treatments that we use [to ensure] that we're not introducing something that another unintended consequence."

The focus is on customer satisfaction, Davis shared, and through an action plan outlined from the start and reviewed upon completion, he and his teams create a path of accountability. The most rewarding aspect of all, Davis said, is a happy customer: "We see an improvement in people's lives, and the before and after is very rewarding, [seeing] the difference we can make[.]"


Here at HandyPro, we make your well-being our priority. Our interview series goes hand in hand with that effort, and we hope you find it helpful! For more information on how we can help you make your home a home for life, visit us at or call me (Brian Pritchard) at 216-212-7531.

To find out more about The Ecosense Company, find them on the web at or reach them by phone at 844-437-6688. To learn more about BioSweep, click through to their website at or call 844-ODOR-OUT (844-636-7688).

To listen to the full audio of our conversation, please use the player below...