In our effort to create NEPA’s most comprehensive nonprofit directory, we came across hundreds of amazing organizations. Naturally, we wanted to share their inspiring stories.
In this series, we aim to highlight the hard-working organizations, the good people, the selfless volunteers, the helpers, the healers, the listeners, the comforters and all the great work they do. We hope that, through these stories, you too will be inspired to lend your time, your hands and your hearts. Follow along as we take a look beyond the mission statement.
Supporting People with Diverse Abilities
Ellie Bartoli was the main inspiration behind the formation of NEPA Inclusive.
As a young teen in 2013, her father Frank wondered what the future would look like for his daughter, who has Down Syndrome. Hoping to help Ellie and people like her live the lives they want – typical lives – he and some others formed the nonprofit with the goal of making leading inclusive lives, immersed in the community they live in, easier.
“We took a look at what the next three to ten years would look like for Ellie. And we thought maybe there was a better way we could approach helping people like her,” says Frank Bartoli, President and CEO of NEPA Inclusive and Coffee Inclusive. “And if she wants to live that way, there must be other people like her.”
Based on their personal experience, the Bartoli’s and other families of those with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities and autism, found that navigating the complex system of government regulatory programming challenging.
Because while children with intellectual disabilities receive assistance in school, there are a number of steps for qualification and requirements to enroll in the waver programs that begins when the recipient turns twenty-one. The process must be initiated in high school. Otherwise, they face the possibly of not being eligible when they turn of age. But knowing where to start and how all the components work together is anything but simple.
“It’s a complex system that is overwhelming to parents,” Frank emphasizes.
As someone who knows this from personal experience, NEPA Inclusive was the opportunity for change.
On a Mission for Inclusion
Offering services in one place that help over a lifetime.
Today, NEPA Inclusive, a referral-based direct service provider, is forefront in helping many with intellectual disabilities (ID). The organization serves 14 counties from NEPA to the Pocono and Allentown and contracts as a provider with the Pennsylvania Office of Development Programs and the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Waver program. Both aid those that apply to live more independently at home and in our communities through a variety of services.
NEPA Inclusive strives to offer long-term support throughout a person’s life so they can live, work and be as social at they choose. For Frank and everyone at NEPA Inclusive, everything they do revolves around the desires of the individual and how they wish to live.
“Our basic philosophy is, let’s take a look at an individual with intellectual disability or autism and ask them what type of life do you want to live?” he says. “How could we use the services available to blend the person-centered plan to help them achieve that life.”
Services That Support Long-Term Sustainable Lives
Person-centered plans allow people with ID to make their own choices.
NEPA Inclusive offers an array of programs with consistent guidance that help adults with developmental differences become independent. Whether that’s living at home or on their own, being successful in the career path of their choice, or being contributing members of society.
They believe those with disabilities have a right to choose to live where they want, with who they want and in a way they want. Their Living Support Service makes that possible.
They also believe those with disabilities have the right to work in an area of interest at a job of their choosing within the community. Their Work Support Services, including supportive employment for adults through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) and the OVR Pre-Employment Transition Services for high schoolers helps individuals with the job-seeking process, teaches them the skills they need to work at their job, orientation assistance, job coaching and ongoing job coaching support.
A program unique to NEPA Inclusive is the Transitional Academy Social Club. The fun and innovative skill-building program focuses on self-advocacy, independent living skills and workplace readiness for high school students ages 14 and up.
The most utilized service the group offers is the In-Home and Community Supports program. These services are provided in home and community settings to assist people in acquiring, maintaining and improving the skills necessary to live in the community, to live more independently, and to participate meaningfully in community life.
Tom Carlucci, NEPA Inclusive Training and Quality Assurance Coordinator, sees a profound difference in the lives of the people they are helping daily.
“They want to live their life a certain way. Some people might want to live in their parent’s home for the rest of their life. And they have the choice to do that. If they have a waiver, we can provide the supports to make it as easy as possible for both parties. For the parents as well as the client. Combined, the services we provide are really having a substantial impact on our clients. “
Giving a Voice to Those with Intellectual Disabilities
NEPA Inclusive prides itself on being more than a service provider to those with ID.
They give them a seat at the table making decisions for the organization. They also offer direct-employment through their subsidiary business, Coffee Inclusive. There, individuals with disabilities work as coffee attendants and baristas serving coffee, smoothies, acai bowls and more.
“The leadership of people with intellectual disabilities and autism has really come full circle in the last couple of years,” Frank emphasizes. “They are not just on the board. They are voting members of the board. They speak up at the board. They give opinions and they help raise money. They help run social programs. We are really integrated in terms of those with ID being at the table and making decisions with us and with our board.”
The community can support NEPA Inclusive by patronizing Coffee Inclusive or supporting their annual fundraiser, Campaign for Inclusion. Proceeds from fundraising efforts are used to directly benefit those they work with, including recreational events and outings and towards subsidizing the cost of direct support services.
Connect With NEPA Inclusive
Visit NEPA Inclusive’s website to learn more about the services they provide to help those with intellectual disabilities, autism and down syndrome lead inclusive, sustainable lives and how you can contribute through their fundraising efforts.