Yolanda Ramirez
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Yolanda Ramirez

Yolanda Ramirez

Program Director (Independent Living)

Greetings! My name is Yolanda Ramirez and after a 2 ½ year absence, I am blessed and honored to be back working at CALIF as the Program Director under the direction and leadership of Ms. Lillibeth Navarro, Founder and Executive Director, and along side an awesome team of dedicated CALIF staff and volunteers.

I first learned about the independent movement, its history and philosophy in 1981 when I went to work for Community Rehabilitation Services, Inc. (CRS), the independent living center for Eastern Los Angeles and the West San Gabriel Valley areas, as the Saturday Recreation Program Coordinator. Then in 1983 I was hired as a full-time Housing/Benefits Coordinator and then several years later I became the Program Director until 2001 when I joined the staff at the Westside Center for Independent Living in Venice/Santa Monica as the Housing Coordinator.

Living with a disability is never easy.  With all of life’s ups and downs sometimes it seems as if life has more downs than ups.  But isn’t that just the way life is–disabled or not.  From time to time, we all surrender a bit of our independence, but at the same time we need to be able to (taking a quote from the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr) “… accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can change, and wisdom to know the difference.”

My dear friend, and spiritual mentor, has taught me: life has many rewards (we just need to look for them), each of us has a purpose, we need to cherish and learn from both the good and the bad, we need to work together, and that if we want Justice we need to work for Peace!  So, if you are a person experiencing a disability, or know someone who is, I encourage you to contact one of the twenty-eight independent living centers throughout California nearest to you and I bet that you’ll not only leave the center with a list of resources, but that you will leave the center with a sense of empowerment and purpose.