Diana Vila

“As a 59 year old Hispanic woman with a disability, I have worked as a Counselor and Adjunct Professor at LaGuardia Community College for 20 years. My retirement worsened my disability.  I was hospitalized, and a fire landed me in my first Adult Home. There I was miserable and mistreated.

I lived in the second Adult Home for 12 years. For the first couple of years, I was lost and too depressed to even care about eating. I woke up when CIAD and Mobilization for Justice (MFJ) did their Residents’ Rights Training. Rights?  I didn’t know I had rights. As a person with a Mental Health diagnosis, too many of my rights were not respected. I wasn’t aware I had rights to fight for until they introduced me to the Adult Home Residents’ Bill of Rights.   

Soon after, I joined the Resident Council and took office as the Vice President and later the President.  I became very familiar with CIAD’s efforts to advocate for residents’ rights. They helped me understand my role in the RC, and I learned how to help others assert their rights.  As a result, we fought for and made strides in improving the quality of food and the quality of life at this home. With CIAD’s help, I learned to fight for the money owed to me by the home from my disability check and help others understand their financial standing with the home.

I started training and working for CIAD as a Peer Advocate while still living in the home. I was able to utilize my skills running independent skill training, called Taking Control, in the adult home for those wishing to move out or those who just want to become more independent. During COVID, we could not run the workshops, so we began a Support line to continue our advocacy efforts. Following the interruptions from Covid19, we will renew the independent skill training workshops and I will help lead the charge. 

I am now living in the community thanks to CIAD’s support. I live in a beautiful apartment that is wheelchair accessible for my partner and is in a great area, close to everything.  I am very grateful.”