A Barre City councilor was honored at a national conference recently.
Ericka Reil is the recipient of the National Council on Independent Living Region 1 Advocacy Award. The award is for her dedication to promoting the rights of people with disabilities and advancing the independent living movement in New England (which comprises NCIL’s Region I).
The award was presented July 22 during a virtual ceremony. Usually it would have been presented during banquet in Washington, D.C., as part of NCIL’s Annual Conference, but this year, the entire conference is being held remotely due to the COVID pandemic.
Reil has worked at the Vermont Center for Independent Living for 17 years, most recently as advocacy coordinator.
Sarah Launderville, executive director of VCIL and president of NCIL, said, “Ericka is a proud woman living with disabilities. She fights for the rights of individuals with disabilities from both personal experience with disabilities and as a mother of a child, Will, who had Autism. Will has since died and she continues to honor him by fighting for people with disabilities.”
Reil’s advocacy efforts include: representing disability rights at the Vermont Victim Assistance Academy, training advocates for domestic and sexual violence; chairing the Disability Rights Vermont PAIMI Council; taking the lead on representing disability on the Vermont Human Trafficking Task Force; and helping start Barre’s first ADA Committee.
11 East State Street, Montpelier, VT 05602 802-229-0501, 800-639-1522 (voice & TTY), fax: 802-229-0503 email: firstname.lastname@example.org ● website: www.vcil.org
She has led ADA celebrations and advocates for and prioritizes those who are homeless. She’s been arrested multiple times with ADAPT and enjoys activism, politics and reading.
In presenting the award, Tim Fuchs, NCIL’s operations director, said, “Ericka Reil lives and breathes independent living. Ericka is a force and has a heart of gold. She’s known for her giving nature, making sure she has bottled water to distribute to those who need it and taking up collections to help individuals.”
Reil said, “I am very honored to receive this award. However awards are never something I think about. My work is my passion and my life. I am just glad I’m able to use my voice where it’s needed.”
The Vermont Center for Independent Living, a nonprofit organization directed and staffed by individuals with disabilities, works to promote the dignity, independence and civil rights of Vermonters with disabilities. Like other independent living centers across the country, VCIL is committed to cross-disability services, the promotion of active citizenship and working with others to create services that support self-determination and full participation in community life. www.vcil.org
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