Carlos Z. Martinez, LMSW
I love to practice according to the proverb; “if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Too often people are becoming co-dependent on the systems and services offered to them in the areas of human services. In many ways our systems are to blame. If we are intentional to shift our mentality of practice towards the intention of this proverb, we may be able to do more transformational work. Enabling independence and greater autonomy in people is my focus, so that we can see people with disabilities live their lives to their fullest potential and remove the barriers in our community that prevent them from living independently. We must be willing to alter the framework of our practice and advocate for changes in systems and service models, so that we can see growth in individuals and our communities. This idea crosses all methods of practice and helps empower and build capacity in people.
BRIDGES was founded in 1987 under the name Rockland Independent Living Center (RILC). We are a community-based, peer-driven, cross-disability, not-for-profit organization dedicated to advocacy and leadership on behalf of people with disabilities. BRIDGES is one of 41 Independent Living Centers (ILC) operating in New York State under the auspices of New York State Education Department (NYSED). Each ILC adheres to a national philosophy of Independent Living (IL) that seeks to empower individuals with disabilities to make autonomous decisions regarding all aspects of living and advocating to ensure equal access to opportunities desired.
In accordance with the IL philosophy, BRIDGES is governed by a Board of Directors that has majority representation of people with disabilities. As an ILC, BRIDGES provides essential core services of Independent Living. These include:
- Peer Counseling
- Independent Living Skills Training
- Information & Referral
- Individual & Systems Advocacy
- Transition Supports
The mission of BRIDGES is to provide advocacy and leadership towards an accessible, integrated community, promoting health and autonomy for people with disabilities.
The vision of BRIDGES is to establish a barrier-free society; improving access and enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities.
BRIDGES does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, hiring and firing of staff, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, clients, volunteers, subcontractors, vendors, and clients.
BRIDGES provides reasonable accommodations to applicants and employees who need them for
medical or religious reasons, as required by law.