An organization dedicated to helping those in need of assistance celebrated a big milestone.
The Southern Tier Independence Center held a celebration for their 35th anniversary.
STIC was founded on the goal to try and improve the life of people with disabilities.
The organization began operation in 1983 on a $100,000 grant with only a few employees.
Now three and a half decades later it employs over 800 people on a budget of $20 million.
Executive Director Maria Dibble says the results is what makes all the hard work worth it.
“The joy of it is that I’ve seen so many people come through our doors who had nowhere to go, who hard no support. Didn’t know how to get the services they wanted. And we’ve seen them succeed,” said Dibble.
At least 51 percent of STIC’s board has and always will be made up of disabled people.
This has allowed them to create things such as the region’s first deaf services and sign language interpreter programs, aid with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and much more.
While Dibble is proud of all they have accomplished she says there is still work to be done.
“Sadly the one thing that still does exist, and we’re still working to improve that is unemployment. People with disabilities have the highest unemployment rate of any group. And it can be up to 60 percent so that’s something that still needs to change,” said Dibble.
Dibble estimates that STIC has served over 75,000 people in its first 35 years.