Center for Independence hosting 40th anniversary celebration fundraiser Friday evening – The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel


When Helen Campbell lost her eyesight in 1970, she initially wanted to become a recluse and stay in the safety of her home.
However, she would eventually befriend a small group of women also suffering from blindness. They decided to band together and, in 1982, they formed the Helen Campbell Center for the Blind. In 1988, the center expanded to cover all disabilities and rebranded as the Center for Independence (CFI).
Forty years after Campbell and company formed the basis for the CFI, the nonprofit organization is still going strong — and is celebrating four decades of service with a dinner, dancing and silent auction fundraiser Friday evening at 5:30 p.m. at the Colorado Mesa University Ballroom.
“It’s quite remarkable,” said CFI Communications and Marketing Manager Katherine Lopez. “We’re a nonprofit, which always makes it a challenge. The other element is that, when it comes to ILs (independent living centers), we’re one of nine in Colorado and one of about 380 in the United States.
“We came out of the Vietnam War with veterans coming home and the government said, ‘We’ve got to do something to help these people.’ The ADA (American with Disabilities Act) came around in 1986 and really put an emphasis on helping everybody. To have made it for 40 years helping thousands of people is incredible.”
The CFI, a cross-disability resource hub for those with any disability, serves 12 Colorado counties, with offices in Grand Junction, Montrose, Glenwood Springs and Salida.
The nonprofit’s offerings vary from low-vision programs, benefits counseling for those enrolled in Social Security, a medical equipment loaner closet where people can check out items they need, assistive technology to help those feeling isolated, and transitioning people such as high school students, Workforce Center members and homeless people to stable positions in what Lopez called “the big world.”
To celebrate the 40-year milestone, the CFI’s anniversary celebration, which will feature a nautical theme, will include a silent auction and musical entertainment courtesy of the Tune Weavers Collective.
Why a nautical theme for a landlocked initiative?
“We’ve been here to help you navigate since 1982,” Lopez said. “We decided, ‘What better way to celebrate 40 years of helping people navigate than a nautical theme?’ ”
Another factor for the CFI to celebrate is a change of leadership that will take place this fall. Linda Taylor, the executive director — or, as Lopez called her, “the captain” — is guiding the nonprofit’s incoming executive director, David Nelson, in transitioning into her role.
No matter who’s leading the organization, however, the CFI has a legacy of serving disabled Grand Valley residents for 40 years, and Lopez is hopeful that they’ll be around for at least another 40 and continue serving the community.
“For 40 years, we’ve been changing people’s lives,” Lopez said. “We’re still here. We’re still working with the challenges people face. We follow the ADA law and help people advocate for themselves.”
Tickets for the 40th anniversary celebration are available online at Individual tickets are $65 each, covering the price of dinner and participation in the silent auction.
The CFI hopes to raise $40,000 at the event to continue its efforts in supporting and empowering disabled people to live independently.
When: Friday, Aug. 5
Where:Colorado Mesa University Ballroom, 5:30 p.m.
What:Dinner, dancing to live music & a silent auction
Individual tickets are $65; table sponsors available.
More information:; to donate silent auction items or tickets for CFI staff, volunteers and consumers call Katherine Lopez at 970-241-0315.
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