Election 2014: FREED Engages 650 Voters With Disabilities

November 6, 2014

FREED staff and supporters from left to right - Suzie Fatheree, Nevada County Registrat of Voters Gregory Diaz, Ana Acton, Justin Harford, Jeannie Darling, Carly Pacheco, Tammy Veralrud.
Over the course of 2014, FREED staff, volunteers and community members made over 650 contacts through social media, phone calls, postcards and face-to-face conversations to voters with disabilities reminding them to get out to the polls and vote. That is because we believe that it is important for people with disabilities, just like everyone else, to participate in the election process.

People with disabilities already make up a significant voting block, but we could be larger. Despite the fact that only 43% of people with disabilities casted ballots in 2012, we made up 12% of the total electorate that year. That placed us between the Latino vote (5%) and the African-American vote (17%), meaning that we are already quite large as a voting block, and that we could be much larger.

Studies and experience show that elected officials pay attention to the people who put them in office. Think about it. Why do the Republicans and Democrats care if women or Latinos support them in elections? The fact is that they have enough voter turnout, and presence in national discussions that gender and Latino issues matter. Why not disability issues?

People with disabilities are close to becoming established as a relevant voting block. Advocates at the national and state levels are looking for ways to make it easier for academics and journalists to track statistics of voters with disabilities. At the same time, organizations like us are working at the grassroots level to ramp up the disability vote. We are proud of our work this year, thankful to our volunteers, excited at the fact that many of our consumers voted in this year’s election, and are already making our plans for 2016.

Check out the article that The Union wrote about our early voting party

Celebrating Our Roots Fundraiser, November 8th at Summer Thyme’s Bakery & Deli

October 22, 2014

freed fundraiser flyer

FREED Center for Independent Living

Celebrating Our Roots Fundraiser

November 8th, 2014

6:00 PM – 9:00 PM


A four-course extravaganza highlighting local, sustainable farm-to-fork cuisine, paired with local wines.

Come Celebrate FREED and our community with entertainment and artwork from local people with disabilities, friends and family while also celebrating the Bounty of Local Farmers!

Local Food

  • Mountain Bounty Farm
  • Nevada County Free Range Beef
  • Johansen Ranch
  • OLALA Farms

Stories & Poetry

  • Izzi Tooinsky “The Wild Man”
  • Alkali-Last of the 49ers
  • John Deaderick
  • Patrick Thomas


  • Blue Shadows Band – Jim Bratt & Friends

Art Show featuring

  • The late Sam Dardick “The Sit Down Farmer”
  • Neighborhood Center of the Arts

Silent Auction

  • An assortment of wonderful silent auction items donated by local businesses and individuals.

Enjoy the very best, fresh, artfully prepared sustainable local ingredients 


  • Hors d’oeuvres
  • Green Salad
  • Braised  Beef, Roasted Roots & Polenta
    • Vegetarian Option: Baked Polenta Gratin
  • Pumpkin Crème Brule

Note: Each meal includes one glass of wine. Additional wine and beer available for purchase with proceeds benefiting FREED. Here’s the Details:

What: 4 Course SLO Dinner w/wine

When: Saturday, November 8th, 2014, 6pm

Where: Summer Thyme’s Bakery & Deli

How much: $45 per person, $80 per couple (Complete: Hors d’oeuvres , includes wine, beverages, gratuity)

  • Reserve today: Tickets at FREED & Summer Thyme’s —Limited seating, advance ticket required.
    This event has limited seating. Be sure to save your place at the table!

Celebrating Our Roots is sponsored by California Health & Wellness, Summer Thyme’s Bakery & Deli, Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply, & Telestream.

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Statewide candidates respond To Disability Organizing Network questionnaire

October 16, 2014

The Disability Organizing Network sent out a questionnaire to the statewide candidates running in the November election to get an idea of what they say about disability issues.

The candidates to reply within FREED’s catchment area were CJ Jawahar, running to represent Nevada, Yuba, and Sutter counties in the 4th California Assembly District, along with Betty T. Yee, running for State Controller. Click on their names to read their answers, and view the original press release at The Disability Organizing Network’s website.

Finally don’t forget to vote, at your nearest polling place on November 4th, your County Elections Office anytime between now and November 4th, or by mail preferably within a week before election day. Also, remember that you have the option to use an accessible voting machine if you need extra assistance filling out your ballot.

FREED Offers Materials for Voter Registration And Education

October 14, 2014

FREED Center for Independent Living encourages all eligible voters in Nevada, Yuba, Sutter, Sierra and Colusa Counties to consider using the resources that we offer for the November election.

Register to vote by October 20th with the provided links on our website, or with one of our old-fashioned voter registration cards, offered at both of our locations. You need to do this if this is your first time voting, if you have moved, married or changed anything else about your living status. When in doubt, register.

Educate yourself for the election by picking up an Easy Voter Guide for statewide measures, as well as the official voter guide from the California Secretary Of State’s office. Also, don’t forget to check out the resources that we offer on our webpage on local measures and candidates.

Finally, don’t forget to vote on November 4th at your local polling place, in the mail, or any time at your County elections office during normal office hours between now and election day.

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Nov 2014 Candidates Talk About Disability Issues

October 7, 2014

We sent out questions on disability and senior issues to the candidates running in the November 2014 election and gave them equal time to respond. Below, you can read the answers of the candidates who responded from Yuba, Sutter and Nevada counties. Thank you to everyone who participated!

Also, some of the candidates running for the statewide election responded to another set of questions from the Disability Organizing Network, and you can read about that here.

Grass Valley City Council

Yuba City City Council

Sutter District Attorney

Nevada County Superior Court Judge

Don’t forget that the deadline to register to vote is October 20. If you have not done so, you can register to vote here.

FREED Offers Easy Voter Guide

October 7, 2014

Are you still trying to decide how you will vote on November 4th? FREED’s easy voter guide on notable measures in Nevada and Yuba Counties can help.

Click here to read California’s Easy Voter Guide on Statewide Measures

Following are the local measures that we have looked at.

Nevada County

Yuba County

Don’t forget that the deadline to register to vote is October 20. If you have not done so, you can register to vote here.

Yuba County Residents: Protect your home from wildfire!

October 3, 2014

Attention Yuba County residents who are physically and financially unable to protect their homes from wildfire, by creating and maintaining “defensible space.”  Help is available – here are the details:

Do you need help protecting your home from wildfire?

You may be eligible for the Yuba County Special Needs Assistance Program for Defensible Space Clearance (to achieve compliance under Public Resource Code 4291)


The Yuba Watershed Protection & Fire Safe Council will provide defensible space clearing around the homes of Yuba Co. residents who are both physically and financially unable to maintain their own defensible space. You must:

• Be over 65 years old, or

• Have a Medical Physical Disability; and

• Be financially unable to hire a contractor, with an annual household income below the following limits:*

  •  1 person: $19,150
  •  2 person: $21,900
  •  3 person: $24,650
  • 4 person: $27,350

* U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development income limits for 2014


• On-site education about effective defensible space.

• Reduction of fire danger in immediate surroundings of home.

• Initial one-day clean-up of brush and woody fuels.

• Services delivered on a first-come, first served basis as funding is available.

• Services do not include removal of trash or other materials surrounding the home.

• PLEASE NOTE: If we cannot access the home due to large accumulations of non-vegetative debris, we cannot provide services.

If your household is eligible, please call Camptonville Community Partnership at (530) 288-9355. Program ends October 31st, 2014. Services are offered on first-come, first-served basis.

Brought to you by:

Yuba Watershed Protection and Fire Safe Council

With funding from:


Take the YMCA community survey

August 18, 2014

The YMCA is planning on becoming more involved in Nevada County, and they are looking for input from the community on ways that they can make the most impact.

YMCA is an organization that believes in including everyone, and people with disabilities are no exception. The Y has engaged in a variety of community initiatives such as accessible gyms, youth leadership programs, academic and job supports and senior exercise. It is important that they hear the voices of people with disabilities of all ages in Nevada County, and FREED encourages everyone, but especially people with disabilities to fill out the survey before September 1st, and let them know how they can be as inclusive as possible.

You can find the survey on the Gold Country YMCA’s Facebook page, or take the survey with this direct link.

FREED and allies submit SSA work incentives resolution to National Council on Independent Living

June 4, 2014

today, FREED and its allies submitted a resolution for consideration at the annual 2014 conference of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), regarding important reforms that we believe are necessary to create better employment opportunities for working age adults with disabilities who receive Social Security benefits. Although, programs under the Social Security Administration such as SSI and SSDI are only supposed to serve as last resorts by the SSA, they often become the primary sources of income for people with disabilities, and we think that this is wrong.

we have reproduced below the text of the full resolution, and we hope that it is passed at the annual conference this July.

Resolution Regarding Reform of the Definition of Disability in the Social Security Act Used to Award Disability Benefits


  • Whereas, studies show that working age people with disabilities want to work and they do work; and
  • Whereas, the efforts to acquire and retain gainful employment are fundamental to a realization of full independence, equality and civic participation for people with disabilities; and
  • Whereas, NCIL is already engaged in seeking a redefinition of disability for young SSI beneficiaries through the CareerACCESS Initiative (www.ourcareerACCESS.org); and
  • Whereas, “disability” under the Social Security Act is defined as the inability to execute significant paid physical or mental labor, and
  • whereas, individuals must go through an extensive process to prove their inability to work as a stipulation for Social Security disability benefits eligibility; and
  • Whereas, the process for proving inability to work is more extensive in the case of SSDI than in SSI, because of the extra scrutiny of an applicant’s work history; and
  • Whereas, for the last 20 years, only one half of a percent of Social Security disability beneficiaries have annually left the disability rolls for paid employment; and
  • Whereas, the 1999 Ticket to work and Work Incentives Improvement Act, which created the Ticket to Work Program, has produced poor results over the last 15 years in enabling Social Security beneficiaries to seek and obtain gainful employment; and
  • Whereas, SSDI already involves many financial disincentives to work such as the SGA Benefit Threshold, also known as the Cash Cliff, which involves a complete termination of SSDI benefits after 12 months in which the recipient has been earning $1070 a month as someone with a disability, or $1800 a month as someone who is blind; and
  • Whereas, SSDI recipients can spend years focusing on their inability to work, while their motivation, self-esteem and work experience dwindle; and,
  • Whereas, an individual’s likelihood of returning to work decreases with the passage of time:

Be it therefore

  • resolved, that NCIL collaborate with the Social Security Administration, stakeholders and policymakers in finding a definition of disability which does not disincentivize any disability beneficiaries from seeking employment, while ensuring that the system supports and serves those it was intended to serve; and
  • Resolved, that NCIL advocate for an integrated redefinition of disability in the Social Security Act for SSDI as well as SSI beneficiaries, to eliminate the need for individuals to prove their inability to work in order to receive benefits; and
  • Resolved, that NCIL push for improvements to the CareerACCESS Initiative to address youth who receive SSDI benefits as well as SSI benefits; and
  • Resolved, that NCIL continue to change intrinsic ideas and values around safety net and social service programs like In Home Supportive Services (IHSS), personal assistance services (PAS), Social Security and paratransit to emphasize peoples abilities and contributions rather than our inabilities; and
  • Resolved, that while individuals with disabilities may receive messages about their perceived inabilities to work from teachers, parents, family, friends, local communities, pastors, peers, social workers, doctors and members of the general public, they will never receive these messages from NCIL or NCIL Members, or from our partners who fight for equal opportunities and civil rights for all people with disabilities, and that NCIL, along with other disability rights organizations, will always challenge common notions of employability of those who are disabled.
  • Resolved, that NCIL continue to collaborate with the Social Security Administration, stakeholders, and federal and state policymakers to reform SSDI and SSI for persons with disabilities who seek employment.

This resolution is endorsed by:

Disability Rap 5/2/2014

May 30, 2014

On May 2, 2014, FREED Executive Director, Ana Acton, ILSNC Executive Director Evan Levang, and Disability Community Advocate Justin Harford, discussed the reasons why people with disabilities along with their allies might want to vote in the June elections.

Click here to listen