Tri-County Patriots for Independent Living (TRIPIL)
The story of Tri-County Patriots for Independent Living (TRIPIL) is simple and to the point: We don’t “do” easy.
Our organization looks different from when it first started in 1990. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) had just become law, and some people criticized TRIPIL’s promotion of civil rights and full access in the community. We had a vision of empowerment and consumer choice in service delivery that was a new philosophy and a new way of thinking.
TRIPIL focused on policies like independent living skills training, advocacy for accessibility and equal rights issues, support groups for peers, information and referral systems, and transition programs. (Transitions include people moving from a nursing home to an apartment/house; or students leaving high school and starting college or a job.)
We believe that liberty and justice for all people with disabilities are our most precious assets. We believe people need to have the choice to live independently: to be able to decide where they live, how they live, and who can assist them.
TRIPIL created a model for care attendants that puts the consumer front-and-center: they may recommend someone for the position, be part of the interview process, and have the final decision regarding hiring.
We have become a significant service provider for people with disabilities throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania. Daily, over 500 direct care attendants work aiding 600 consumers in their own homes get out of bed, dressed, and ready for their day, so that they can pursue whatever activities and goals they choose. We also have great working relationships with the Southwestern Pennsylvania Area Agency on Aging and Habitat for Humanity.
Individuals working and volunteering at TRIPIL spoke loudly at public hearings and openly challenged community institutions and businesses to open their doors to inclusionary policies and practices. Furthermore, over 51% of the Board, Management, and Staff of TRIPIL have disabilities themselves.
Now moving into its 26 year, TRIPIL looks forward to the renovation of the old YWCA building at 42 West Maiden Street in Washington into our new, modern, and "green" headquarters. It will house a training center, computer café, fully accessible gym, conference rooms, and performance space for community events. We look forward to a bright future, serving people with disabilities to continue – or begin for the first time – to live independently in our community.