JOLIET – Transportation has always been difficult for Meghan Duffy, whose disabilities make it hard for her to travel to school on her own.
Because of complications with her vision, Duffy said she cannot drive to school, doctor visits or other outings by herself. She once attended Illinois Valley Community College, where she and her mom worked for more flexible transportation for people with disabilities like her.
Now, she attends Joliet Junior College, where she seeks to do the same.
“I am often stuck at school for four extra hours waiting for my stepdad to get off work and from where I need to go,” she said.
It’s not just flexible and accessible transportation Duffy is working to make possible for all Will County residents but affordable housing and accessible public and private buildings. On Saturday, she was one of dozens of area residents who pledged to accomplish these goals at the commencement of the Accessible Will County Campaign.
Members of the Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living, which advocates for the rights of people with disabilities, led the beginning of a campaign that promises to improve the quality of life for not only people with disabilities but those without them.
“There are so many people with or without disabilities who are in dire need of housing,” said Pam Heavens, executive director of the organization.
She said the campaign has been in the works for the past six months and the next steps will be to work with residents and elected officials to make the goals of the campaign a reality.
Many of those officials were present at the campaign, such as County Board Speaker Herbert Brooks, Joliet Mayor Thomas Giarrante and several city council members. They sat in on short group sessions at the campaign’s kick-off to listen to area residents’ needs on housing, transportation and accessibile businesses. Both Giarrante and Will County Executive Larry Walsh signed their signature on the campaign.
“In Will County, there are 11,000 extremely low income households but there are only 1,500 affordable housing units in the area,” said Felechia Mickles, who tried to find affordable housing for her sister to no avail. “I am excited to work on [this campaign]… because this could in the future not only meet the needs of my sister but the guests of MorningStar Mission and all people in this area.”
For information on the campaign, call 815-729-0162.