Since 1981 Summit has grown from a small, grass-roots organization to an active and highly respected community presence. Here are a few highlights…
October 1981 – Summit is founded through a federal Department of Education “Centers for Independent Living” grant awarded to Community Medical Center. Housed initially in a duplex on Clark Street in Missoula, in February 1982 the center begins offering advocacy, skills training, and attendant management training to residents of Missoula County. From its founding until August 1988, Summit was operated as a department of Community Medical Center, with input from a consumer-controlled advisory council.
October 1983 – Summit receives additional grant monies to begin limited outreach services in Ravalli County.
1985 – Summit partners with Missoula Aging Services to start the Senior Companion program, which allows people with disabilities over 55 to do self-chosen social and personal tasks with their companion. Consumers’ choices range from trips to the grocery store and medical appointments to excursions to the library and outdoor recreation.
October 1985 – Summit receives a federal Title VII expansion grant from the Department of Education to extend outreach services to Lake and Flathead counties, and to broaden services to people with hearing and visual impairments, traumatic brain injuries, and other disabling conditions. Prior to this time, the focus for services was primarily on people with mobility impairments. In keeping with independent living philosophy, services were made available to persons with all types of disabilities, a “cross disability” focus.
November 1985 – Summit’s peer advocate program is launched with the first peer training workshop held in Missoula. Over the next few months peer advocates are also trained in Ravalli, Lake and Flathead counties and join the ranks at Summit.
August 1988 – Summit splits from Community Medical Center and is incorporated as a freestanding, nonprofit corporation governed by a consumer-controlled board of directors.
July 26, 1990 – Summit celebrates as President George H.W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act into law, the culmination of a long national campaign to extend civil rights protections to persons with disabilities.
November 1990 – Summit receives a planning grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and begins a year-long process of assessing consumer needs and developing plans for the three-year implementation phase of the RWJF “Improving Service Systems for People with Disabilities” program.
September 1991 – As part of the RWJF planning grant Summit hosts “Independent Living in Montana: Coming of Age in the ’90s,” a statewide conference on systems advocacy and coalition building. At that conference, the Coalition of Montanans Concerned with Disabilities, a grassroots consumer-driven disability rights organization, is born.
May through August 1992 – Summit establishes satellite offices in Kalispell, Ronan and Hamilton through the RWJF implementation grant to expand and improve independent living services to people with disabilities in rural areas.
August 1997 – Summit initiates self-directed personal assistance services, the first independent living center in Montana to participate as a provider agency in the Medicaid Self-Directed PAS program.
July 2000 – Summit celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in conjunction with the national Spirit of ADA campaign. Tenth anniversary activities include ADA Torch Walk and “We have stories, too” events in Hamilton, an ADA birthday celebration during the “Out to Lunch” program at Caras Park in Missoula featuring speakers, artists and musicians with disabilities, and extensive coverage of ADA issues in numerous local newspapers.
2001 – Summit begins teaching a class for high school boys & girls with disabilities at the YMCA. The class was called; Respect Attitudes Values and Education (RAVE).
2002 – Respect Attitudes Values and Education (RAVE) moves to high schools and is taught to girls with disabilities.
2003 – The initial curriculum for Building Advocacy and Learning Leadership Skills (BALLS) is developed and taught in three local high schools to boys with disabilities.
January 2006 – Big Sky Bonanza is approved. Big Sky Bonanza is a consumer-directed planning, staffing and budgeting program for consumers who have received Home and Community Based Services for over six months. Summit participates in the program by supplying Independence Advisors to offer support and guidance of waiver services. NOTE: As of July 1, 2011, Big Sky Bonanza will become an option under Home- and Community-Based Services.
Summer 2006 – Summit celebrates its 25th year of providing services in Western Montana by hosting the Montana Independent Living Symposium attended by its partners across Montana. These fellow advocates with disabilities are from the Montana Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC), Montana Independent Living Program (MILP), North Central Independent Living Services (NCILS) and Living Independently for Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT).
2006 – 2007 – Respect Attitudes Values and Education (RAVE) and Building Advocacy and Learning Leadership Skills (BALLS) are condensed into one course—BALLS—for all high school students with disabilities. It covers Disability History and Culture, Disability Acceptance, Communications/Self Advocacy, Leadership, Values and Goals and other topics.
June 2007 – Road to Freedom campaign, a cross-country bus trip inspired by the journey of Justin and Yoshiko Dart, stops in Missoula. The campaign engaged audiences with the story of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the history of the disability rights movements.
2007 – Summit partners with the Montana Disability & Health Program to encourage accessibility for places that promote health and fitness, including: mammography clinics, fitness centers, gyms, and community and rural health clinics.
2008 – Youth Opening Doors through Advocacy (YODA) rebooted as a youth advisory council. It has since become an advocacy and social group for people with disabilities 13-30ish.
May 2009 – Montana CIL advocacy leads to Gov. Brian Schweitzer signing SB 119, which creates a Medicaid buy-in option for individuals with disabilities. Medicaid for Workers with Disabilities (MMWD) goes into effect on July 1, 2010.
Summer 2009 – Montana CIL Rallies help get the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act and the Community First Choice Option into health care reform legislation, which was signed into law March 23, 2010 by President Barack Obama.
July 2010 – Summit hosts an IL Symposium, a Youth Symposium, “Out to Lunch,” and a barbecue at Fort Missoula celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
2010 – Summit expands collaboration with community partner Ravalli County Council on Aging in Hamilton.
2011 – Summit celebrates 30 years of providing services to individuals with disabilities in Western Montana.
2012 – Summit plays an integral role in advocating for the State of Montana to apply for a Money Follows the Person grant from the Federal Government in order to assist individuals to move out of nursing homes and into more integrated settings in the community. The state applied for the grant and received the grant in the spring of 2012.
2013 – Summit helped to successfully lobby the 2013 State Legislature to approved funds allowing the Department of Public Health and Human Services to implement the Community First Choice Option in Montana.
Summit also led the drive in succesfully lobbying the 2013 Legislature to establish a short-term rental assistance housing bridge program to assist individuals transitioning from nursing homes into the community under the Money Follows the Person program until they can qualify for other, long-term, housing assistance.
2015 – Summit helped to successfully lobby the 2015 State Legislature to approve email voting for voters with disabilities. Our lobbying efforts were also successful in raising the resource limits under the Medicaid for Workers with Disabilities program to $15,000 for an individual and $30,000 for a couple.