In 1971, STEP (Services to Elderly Persons) and SMILE (Services to Maintain Independent Living for the Elderly) were joined under a new effort coordinated by the Wisconsin Division on Aging and United Way of Dane County. The combined programs, known as the Independent Living Project for the Elderly, provided transportation, home safety assessments and information and counseling services.
In 1973, STEP and SMILE formally merged and were incorporated as Independent Living, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. ILI continued the Telephone Reassurance and Friendly Visiting programs formerly provided by STEP in addition to the home safety assessments, counseling and transportation services noted above. Independent Living's blue busses served the City of Madison and surrounding communities until 1988. ILI continues to provide a Transportation service today in Madison.
In the fall of 1973, Independent Living, Inc. accepted oversight of Dane County's Congregate Noon Meals program for the elderly, beginning at the Colonial Club in Sun Prairie on December 17, 1973. In January 1974, sites opened in Mazomanie, Waunakee, Stoughton and two in Madison. By the end of 1996, when local entities assumed responsibility for the program, it had grown to 16 sites. The program evolved into ILI's current Evening Meals on Wheels program.
In May 1974, Housekeeping services were added and in 1979, ILI began its focus on housing with the establishment of the Live-In program as an extension of Friendly Visiting. In 1981, ILI launched the Home Care program to provide in-home personal care to older adults. In 1982, the Live-In program became Home Share, officially launched with a grant of $191,000 from Gulf & Western in 1982. In 1986, ILI's housing efforts expanded and Chandler HOME, an eight-bed CBRF, was opened on Chandler Street near Meriter Hospital.
In 1991, ILI planned the area's first senior housing based on affordability and income. McKee Park Apartments opened in 1995, at 2931 Chapel Valley Road in Fitchburg. The 42-unit building is home to low-income older adults age 62 and better. In 1994, again responsive to senior needs, ILI established Independent Health Care. Medicare-certified and state-licensed, IHC is a home health agency that provides skilled care through nursing services and physical, occupational and speech therapy.
In 1996, ILI developed a beautiful retirement community at 1000 Hunters Trail (just off O'Keeffe Avenue) in Sun Prairie. The 69 ranch-style condominium units are designed specifically for older adults and their social and physical needs. Named Olympic Village, features include maintenance free lifestyle, clubhouse with fitness center, and professionally landscaped surroundings including duck ponds. In 1997, the first residents of Olympic Village moved into their new homes.
Also in 1996, ILI expanded its in-home services to include the Financial Management and Counseling program. Responding to an increasing need to provide assistance with finances to older adults, the program assists clients with bill paying, checkbook reconciliation, budget analysis and monitoring, debt advocacy and management, research and clarification of Medicare and insurance, and education about financial fraud and abuse.
In 2000, ILI purchased the former Attic Angel Association housing facility at 602 N. Segoe Road in Madison, and began an extensive renovation process. The former one-story nursing home was converted into a 16-unit Community Based Residential Facility (CBRF) and nameda Segoe Gardens Assisted Living. The tower was renamed The Gardens, with independent apartments offering beautiful garden and city views. The retirement community enjoys numerous services, from a chef-prepared dining to educational programs. Additional support services are available as needed. With the opening of Segoe Gardens Assisted Living and its expanded services, the eight-bed Chandler HOME was closed.
Kibble on Wheels was started in 2006 through community partnerships between ILI, Mounds Pet Food Warehouse, Banfield Pet Hospitals and the Dane County Humane Society to deliver free, appropriate food for companion animals and prevent meal sharing by older adults to Evening Meals on Wheels recipients.
In 2007, ILI with support from United Way of Dane County piloted the Caregiver Respite program in response to the great need for those in a caregiver role. This program provides respite care through in-home care services or a stay at the Segoe Gardens Assisted Living facility.
Our Evening Meals on Wheels program earned unique distinction in April 2010 when it received Magnet Accreditation at the Exemplary Level from the Meals on Wheels Association of America. Our program was one of four to achieve the rare recognition out of 900 MOWAA member organizations.
Today Independent Living, Inc. is a recognized leader in Dane County for providing high quality, innovative and cost effective community-based services to older adults and people with disabilities.