NEPA Inclusive Project Aims to Boost Independent Living

As it appeared in The Times Leader

By Bill O’Boyle

PITTSTON — NEPA Inclusive is expanding its operation to create a SMART Tech Resource Center and Drop-In Lounge — a place where people with disabilities can congregate, socialize, find resources, seek advocacy and assistance, and learn how SMART Technology can enhance their ability to live inclusively and independently in the community.

SMART is an acronym for Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology.

Frank Bartoli

Frank Bartoli, executive director at NEPA Inclusive, has worked for years to create and support inclusive and sustainable lives for people with disabilities and this expansion is the latest effort to add to the organization’s footprint.

Bartoli said the explosion of new SMART home automation devices promises to make it possible for individuals with disabilities to have greater independence, control over their own lives, and to participate in and contribute more fully in activities at home, work, school and in the community.

“We hope to have the first phase up and running in early April,” Bartoli said. “We will make the space even bigger by July.”

Bartoli said the SMART Tech Resource Center, located at the NEPA Inclusive headquarters, 22 East St., Pittston, will be designed as a place where the clients can “drop in” to seek short-term socialization and assistance in a multitude of areas of support. These areas could include assistance in finding and applying for jobs online, writing and updating resumes, searching for apartments and related subsidized programs, applying for food bank assistance, along with a multitude of other services.

He said the center will also function as an advocacy hub, where participants can seek help from NEPA Inclusive’s staff in areas of need, where small group meetings can be held, and where small group social nights can occur.

“The hallmark of the center will be its innovative showcase and constant use of integrated SMART technology devices, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, among others,” Bartoli said. “These devices will serve as the ‘brains’ of the center, allowing individuals to control functional equipment such as lights, cameras, and alarms, as well as assist with personal organization through calendar reminders, scheduling appointments, and recording medications. Smart watches will be utilized to track seizures and notify medical services if necessary.”

Bartoli said he hopes to educate people with disabilities and their families on how SMART Tech can help them live more independently and to utilize SMART Tech for health and safety purposes.

“Our mission at NEPA Inclusive is to help create and support inclusive and sustainable lives for people with disabilities,” Bartoli said. “We envision a society where people with disabilities are fully engaged in their communities.”

A fundraising event will be held Thursday, April 9, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Susquehanna Brewing Company, 635 South Main St. Pittston.

Founded in 2013, NEPA Inclusive is a provider of support services for those with an ID Waiver in areas such as in-home and community habilitation, companion services, respite, and supported living services and a vendor with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Currently, the organization serves Luzerne, Lackawanna, and Wyoming counties, with expansion efforts underway in Berks, Carbon, Columbia, and Monroe counties.

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PA Inclusive is a provider of services for people with disabilities who have a ‘Waiver for Service’ through the Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs (ODP). We provide In-Home and Community Supports, Companion Services, Supported Employment, and Supported Living Services.

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