WILS Organizational History
The first time former State Representative Deleta Williams heard of independent living centers was in 1996 when, then, Missouri Governor, Mel Carnahan, approached her and asked if she wanted an independent living center in Warrensburg. Williams replied; “Let me talk about it with some folks”. She contacted Warrensburg resident Laura McReynolds and City Mayor, Ann Houx; Williams received positive feedback and encouragement, and told Governor Carnahan, “yes”. At the time only ten such centers throughout Missouri were providing independent living skills training, information and referral, peer support, and advocacy serves to individuals with disabilities.
McReynolds and Houx formed a steering committee and headed the project. In January 1997, the state approved the grant for Warrensburg Independent Living Solutions (WILS), a 501(c)3 nonprofit center for independent living with services for Warrensburg, Missouri. Within two years Warrensburg Independent Living Solutions changed its name to West-Central Independent Living Solutions (WILS) and began serving the counties of Johnson, Lafayette, Henry, Benton, Pettis, and Saline counties from the Warrensburg office. Today, WILS is one of 22 Centers for Independent Living in Missouri.
Following the Independent Living Philosophy of Choice, Control and Change; WILS’ mission is working to empower people with physical disabilities to achieve and maintain their independence by connecting individuals with disabilities to community resources enabling them to live as independently as possible. Through community education and advocacy, WILS works to encourage the removal of architectural and attitudinal barriers to allow full inclusion of individuals with disabilities in community life. WILS envisions a community where all individuals can participate fully without barriers.
WILS receives an annual Independent Living grant through the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE), Vocational Rehabilitation (VR or Voc Rehab) Services and must comply with the Center for Independent Living Compliance Manual. Oversight of our center’s financials is completed through an annual audit by an independent auditing firm and oversight of the center’s programs is conducted every two (2) years through a Voc Rehab audit.