Voices for Independence Open House

Pictured is Voices for Independence Office Manager Jill Rhodes, Life and Independence for Today (LIFT) Executive Director Bob Mecca and VFI Chief Executive Officer Shona Eakin at Thursday’s open house in St. Marys.

ST. MARYS — Voices for Independence, an Erie-based agency dedicated to providing services to individuals with disabilities, welcomed the community into its new St. Marys office at an open house Thursday.

VFI focuses on home modification, personal assistant services and nursing-home transition, according to a news release.

The event, held at the 250 Depot Street office, welcomed anyone with a connection to disability — the individuals themselves, caregivers and family members — to talk to experts about the services offered.

VFI Chief Executive Officer Shona Eakin said the home-care agency serves all of western Pennsylvania. Individuals with disabilities need basic assistance with daily activities like housekeeping, cooking and more.

“We wanted to be more local so that people could reach us here,” Eakin said. “It’s always good to have a local presence. People trust you if one of their own is in the office.”

Eakin describes VFI as a “connection point,” helping to match disabled individuals with a trained professional or other local resources.

The St. Marys VFI location is also seeking employees, Eakin said. Any person with the proper clearances can be trained for VFI employment, whether it’s a current caregiver, family member or someone who just wants to help people.

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“We’ll match you with a person who needs your skill set,” she said. “Even if you’ve never done home care, we provide training.”

VFI will also be working with Life and Independence for Today (LIFT) in Elk County, which provides services VFI may not offer.

“We will all make the appropriate references and work together to provide the right services to consumers,” said LIFT Executive Director Bob Mecca. “I’m sure we will have a lot of joint ventures in this area.”

Jill Rhodes, the St. Marys VFI on-site manager, previously worked for LIFT for eight years. Rhodes will be “the face” of the new St. Marys office.

LIFT and VFI’s missions are very similar, Rhodes said. Both agencies strive to keep disabled individuals in their homes, independent and happy.

“We are all a little piece of the puzzle,” she said.

For more information, visit www.vficil.org.

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