The Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living (LVCIL) is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization that serves people with disabilities, and their family members, living in Lehigh and Northampton Counties.
LVCIL was founded in 1990 through the efforts of Carl Odhner and Operation Overcome. Odhner was an advocate for people with disabilities in the Lehigh Valley. He was a champion of the independent living philosophy and a believer in the idea that a strong and vital community is one that is welcoming of all people. As one of the founding members of LVCIL, Odhner devoted his life to breaking down barriers for people with disabilities in the Lehigh Valley. In addition to Odhner's efforts, Operation Overcome, a dynamic, local grassroots advocacy group comprised of persons with disabilities, their families and friends, also led the charge in promoting disability awareness in the Lehigh Valley. The group is credited with ground-breaking action to increase the accessibility of locations throughout the region before it was mandated by law. Operation Overcome even gained national attention by staging the now famous "Roll On The Mall," in which government leaders and local politicians were challenged by residents with disabilities to use wheelchairs to try to negotiate Allentown's inaccessible main shopping district on Hamilton Street.
LVCIL is one of seventeen Centers for Independent Living in Pennsylvania and is governed, managed, and staffed at all times by a majority of persons with disabilities. This is called consumer control, meaning that, because we are people with disabilities, we never forget the rights and needs of those we serve. In other words, people with disabilities provide oversight of all of our services, program, and operations.
As a staple of the disability community in the Lehigh Valley, LVCIL continues to grow its presence in the region and expand its services for area residents with disabilities. This growth has included the development of many programs and services in which LVCIL works closely with committes, groups, and government entities on the local, municipal, county, state, and national levels.
The Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living (LVCIL) empowers persons with all types of disabilities to achieve independence in an inclusive community.
The Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living (LVCIL) envisions a world free of barriers where people with all types of disabilities can live their dreams.
-Westside Center for Independent Living, Los Angeles, California