New Pilot Program: Voice Options Kicks-off on January 11th!

January 6, 2017

FREED is excited to be a partner in the new Voice Options program.  This program connects Californians with speech language disabilities to iPads with speech apps. Using a speech app may make being understood easier and allow you to speak independently.  Voice Options is a pilot program of the California Public Utilities Commission. For more information on the program check out:

The SCAN Foundation Community of Constituents Regional Coalition

January 4, 2017

Formed in 2011, the Community Living Implementation Council (CLIC) of Nevada County advocates for consumer-friendly access to long-term services and supports (LTSS), as well as increased agency collaboration.  CLIC consists of 14 member organizations that provide services and programs to individuals with disabilities, older adults, caregivers, and family members.  The vision is that all older adults and persons with disabilities live independent, fulfilling, and healthy lives.  The Council’s focus is to provide easy access to a broad array of services, a continuum of help in accessing services, and advocacy for individuals desiring LTSS and more information.

In 2016, collaborative efforts expanded to Yuba and Sutter counties with the creation of the Yuba-Sutter Aging and Disability Resource Connection Advisory committee with a focus on bi-county LTSS coordination.

For more information go to

Keep FREED Rolling!

November 29, 2016


On Tuesday, November 29th, FREED is participating in #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to celebrating and encouraging giving. #GivingTuesday is a special call to action to create a global day of giving that brings diverse organizations and communities around the world together to give back. It is about ordinary people coming together to do extraordinary things for our community. We hope you can join us in celebrating the holiday season by making a contribution to FREED today at!

Help keep FREED rolling today by signing up online for a monthly reoccurring donation!

 2016 FREED Highlights

  • FREED is #1 in Assistive Technology (AT) by serving the largest number of individuals in California with AT services as compared to all other urban and rural Independent Living Centers in California!
  • FREED is #2 in California by serving the second largest number of individuals as compared to other Independent Living Centers!
  • 1333 individuals served with comprehensive independent living services!
  • 1568 information and referral services provided
  • 32 individuals transitioned from a nursing home to community living
  • 87 individuals served with Care Transition Coaching and support during and after hospital discharge
  • 1647 hours of collaboration, networking, and community advocacy in the counties we serve.

Community Organizing with over 50 community members to create practical outcomes in infrastructure accessibility and voter registration.

Demonstrated Outcomes

  • 56% of individuals are better able to perform activities of daily living
  • 53% feel that their overall quality of life has improved
  • 52% are better able to access their home environment
  • 42% are better able to access the community

We truly appreciate your support of FREED’s work and ask that you consider donating to FREED through your year-end giving. Make a one-time donation by writing a check today or by going to Even better, consider becoming a Rolling Donor by signing up online for a monthly reoccurring donation.


Our Community: An Aging & Disability Conference – August 3rd, 2016

June 10, 2016

ADRC 2016 conference flyer FINAL

Our Community: An Aging & Disability Conference

August 3rd, 2016

9am – 4pm

Holiday Inn Express, Grass Valley


Celebration of Trails – June 4th!

May 31, 2016

Join the Bear Yuba Land Trust, Sierra Club, and FREED for a family friendly, all ability levels, hike on the Hirschman Trail this Saturday, June 4th!

When: June 4th at 9:30 a.m.
Level: Easy to moderate (depending on distance), .8 miles (wheelchair accessible) – 5 miles (moderate ascending and descending)
Meet: Hirschman Trail Trailhead

Bring the whole family for this kid-friendly, all ability level exploration of Nevada City’s Hirschman Trail. Join Ana Acton of FREED and Richard Thomas of the Sierra Club as we investigate the flora and fauna of this popular trail. Thomas is a longtime resident of the area and will bring his scope for viewing wildlife, such as the resident Western Pond turtles, at the pond. Bring your camera and sketch book if you wish. This is a wheelchair, limited mobility accessible trail to the pond (.8 mile round trip). Those who want to go further, will have that option, too. We are fortunate that local natural history buffs, Ralph and Lisa Cutter, have signed on again for this year’s hike!

Questions may be addressed to Richard Thomas at 264-6740 or email at




FREED’s Friendly Visitor Program Celebrates Alfredo Nespral’s 100th Birthday!

May 31, 2016

FREED’s Friendly Visitor program matches elderly, stay-at-home locals with volunteers. Earlier this year, Friendly Visitor Coordinator Maureen Gerecke made such a match between Alfredo Nespral of Penn Valley and me, Jeff Russell.

In just a few short months we became good friends. As I am relearning Spanish at Sierra College, we visit in both English and in Spanish.

Alfredo Nespral was born on April 21, 1916 at San Antonio de Los Baños — 15 miles southwest of Havana, Cuba. He grew up with two sisters, Josephine and Olga. During the tumultuous 1930s of Cuba, Alfredo finished high school and was admitted to Havana University to study medicine, anatomy, and physiology. Only nine months later, when student unrest shuttered the university, Alfredo applied to the Havana Naval Academy. He was one of 1,200 applicants who took the entrance exam at La Punta, Cuba. Even in this stiff competition, Alfredo excelled and was accepted. After three more years of Naval Academy, Cuba recruited Alfredo to join the then fledging Cuba Naval Air Force. He quickly “earned his wings.” Because he was coming out of the Naval Academy, they nicknamed him “el Marino.” In those early days Alfredo flew a single propeller 500 HP Stearman airplane.

Later Alfredo trained in long distance navigation with the then world leader in such, Pan American Airlines. For many years he flew the Havana to Madrid route. With a stop-over in Bermuda to refuel, it took 17 hours to go one way. Because Havana/Madrid was such a long flight they stayed four days before the return flight.

Alfredo’s life changed for the better in the closing days of World War II. One afternoon while at the seawall of the Commodore Club on Havana harbor, he sat down next to a very pretty lady. He was 29 years old and she was just 24. Her name was Thais (try to imagine the romance of the tropical breeze blowing there — think Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall). After just a short time talking, Thais turned to Alfredo and stated, “Quiero casarme” (“I want to get married”). Not to be undone, Alfredo quickly replied he wanted that too! And so, after a year or so of courtship and, his winning over her protective parents, they did marry.

In those same years, Thais attained an impressive post doctorate education in the USA majoring in both dentistry and orthodontics. She became the head of orthodontics at Havana University. Eventually she encouraged Alfredo to become a doctor of dentistry also. They created a very comfortable life in Cuba.

After Fidel Castro overthrew Cuban dictator Batista in 1959, Cuban life became more oppressive. In 1962, Alfredo and Thais secretly fled by boat to Caracas, Venezuela. They left everything they had behind.

In Venezuela life was not very inviting and shortly, after many applications, they landed jobs in orthodontics and dentistry in the USA. Eventually they moved to Southern California.

Alfredo and his much beloved Thais enjoyed more than 50 years of marriage together. After many world travels and two very productive lives, they settled in Penn Valley in the early 2000s to raise horses. Sadly, less than three years later, Thais died. Alfredo’s son Cesar Nespral still lives near their old hometown of Palmdale, California. Everyone who meets Alfredo today remarks that he moves and acts more like an 80-year-old than 100!

Realizing that Alfredo was doing “nothing special” for his 100th birthday, I began to plan a grand birthday party for him.

Spanish teacher Sara Casler helped in these efforts by securing a venue on Sierra College campus. She also encouraged other Spanish students to attend. To prepare, they practiced singing the Cuban birthday song “Felicidades.” On April 21, with Maureen Gerecke and several other of Alfredo’s friends in attendance, Professor Casler’s students serenaded Alfredo with this song. He was most pleased by the festivities and certainly by the birthday cake decorated with the Cuban flag. 

After such a long and interesting life, Alfredo Nespral certainly deserves the attention. 

Jeff Russell lives in Big Oak Valley.

Don’t forget to Register to vote!

March 10, 2016










New Office Hours- Starting January 1st

December 29, 2015

Starting in January the FREED office will be open Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 4:00pm.

Disability rap December 4, 2015

December 9, 2015

Cover of HolLynn's book Becoming real in 24 days

On Friday, December 4, we hosted HolLynn D’Lil, a veteran in the disability activist community who covered the national sit-in in 1977, which won our freedoms under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. HolLynn is also author of the book Becoming Real in 24 Days in which she tells the story complete with photos and first-hand accounts, of how 504 was won.

We also hosted her on Disability Rap, and you can listen to that episode here. Learn about the impact that 504 has had on the lives of people with disabilities everywhere.

Join us on December 4th to learn about the history of disability civil rights

November 19, 2015

Cover of HolLynn's book Becoming real in 24 days

Know your history: Know your rights: Know yourself.

What: Join us as we learn about the history behind the famous section 504 sit ins, in which the disability community won freedom from discrimination in federal programs.

When: Friday, December 4 from 3 PM to 5 PM

Where: FREED Grass Valley office at 2059 Nevada City Hwy. Suite 102 Grass Valley

Why: Because we have to know where we’ve been to know where we’re going.


Picture of HolLynn

Join us for a presentation by HolLynn, a disability rights activist and author of the book Becoming Real in 24 Days, on the story of the longest sit-in at a federal building in history, in which activists with disabilities fought for the regulations which made section 504 a reality. Thanks to the work of these early pioneers in the disability rights movement, people with disabilities, their friends and family can access federal programs without discrimination.