BRiDGES was founded in 1987 under the name Rockland Independent Living Center (RILC). It is a community-based, peer-driven, cross-disability, not-for-profit organization dedicated to advocacy and leadership on behalf of people with disabilities. BRiDGES is one of 41 Independent Living Centers (ILC) operating in New York State under the auspices of New York State Education Department (NYSED). Each ILC adheres to a national philosophy of Independent Living that seeks to empower individuals with disabilities to make autonomous decisions regarding all aspects of living and advocating to ensure equal access to opportunities desired.
In accordance with the IL philosophy, BRiDGES is governed by a Board of Directors that has majority representation of people with disabilities. As an Independent Living Center, BRiDGES provides essential core services of Independent Living. These include:
- Peer Counseling
- Independent Living Skills Training
- Information & Referral
- Individual & Systems Advocacy
- Transition Supports
BRiDGES provides additional programs and services. Each activity promotes individuals’ right of autonomy and encourages active participation in community life according to the desires of each individual.
In support of fulfilling its mission, BRiDGES operates a variety of business interests through Connections: Employment & Marketing Services, LLC. Each individual business operates with the dual purpose of serving the community-at-large while also training and employing people with disabilities, veterans, and others eligible to receive BRiDGES services.