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DISID sets sights on the future

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Having recently met with Healthcare Committee Chair Senator Dennis Rodriguez, Jr. in regards to many of its needs, the Department of Integrated Services for Individuals with Disabilities hopes to overcome these challenges with new projects and plans. With a goal of helping individuals with disabilities achieve employment and community independence, the department of integrated services for individuals with disabilities hopes to achieve just that by building a new resource center and improving transportation for its constituents.

DISID director Benito Servino says after being abandoned for nearly a decade, the group has plans on revitalizing the former Goodwill facility across John F. Kennedy High School in Upper Tumon. "We were looking at it as a resource center where we can maximize and integrate it throughout the community hopefully we can sort of replicate the one-stop center where everybody can come to it not just people with disabilities, integrated for people looking for jobs, people looking for certain services that is very comprehensive," he said.

Servino says DISID has jurisdiction over the property and estimates the project to cost about $8 million to $9 million. However, funding for the project remains to be seen.

DISID has two divisions, one for vocational rehabilitation and one for support services and caters to nearly 750 consumers. In addition to finding funding, Servino says transportation is a challenge the department faces. He adds that getting its constituents to and from the worksite proves difficult from limitations of vehicles, hours of services they're operated and adequate funding to maintain them and purchase new busses.

Servino says four to five busses have been allocated for the department. "Right now, if they're reliable and maintained, that will be sufficient for now, but there's always going to be an opportunity to increase that amount especially when the population starts to grow. You need to meet the demand," he explained.

DISID recently submitted a letter of support for the ADA Technical Assistance Grant proposal that the San Diego State University Interwork Institute is applying for with the National Institute on Disability and Rehab Research. The grant helps address ADA compliance needs in the areas of Guam, CNMI, Hawaii and American Samoa. "Also they've expressed interest in allocating resources and manpower resources, staffing resources be assigned here to DISID to provide technical assistance training, awareness training, information dissemination and hopefully utilize that position to go to CNMI since its right next door and help them out, too," said Servino.

He also stated that by the end of the year, he hopes to build capacity for the DISID staff and increase the professional development of its consumers. In the meantime, its Division of Vocational Rehabilitation is planning for October's National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

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