Middle Tennessee's Center For Independent Living
Who We Are
A Center for Independent Living providing information and referral, peer support, advocacy, skills training, transition services, employment readiness, benefits counseling, ADA consultations, and Braille transcription to people with disabilities.
Independent living is not just a program offered by Empower Tennessee. It is a way of looking at disability and society, and a worldwide movement of people with disabilities working for self-determination, self-respect and equal opportunities. We operate according to a strict philosophy of consumer control, wherein people with all types of disabilities directly govern and staff the organization.
Empower Tennessee (EIN: 62-1585996) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your contribution is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. No goods or services are provided to you in exchange for your generous financial donation.
Frequently Asked Questions FAQ's
That varies from person to person. “Independent living” doesn’t always refer to where you live or with whom you live. It’s about being in control of life choices. Maybe you need help accessing transportation options. Maybe you’d like to find work or go back to school. Maybe you’re not even sure what you need to find greater independence. Whatever independent living means to you, Empower Tennessee staff can help you get there.
Our staff works with anyone who self-identifies as having a disability. We serve those with mobility issues, sensory impairments, intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, mental illness, chronic health conditions, and more.
No. However, we do offer individualized peer support. Please visit the Peer Support page for more information.
This is a complicated question because the answer is different for every person. However, these are the important things to know:
- You can work without automatically losing your benefits.
- You can work and still keep your health insurance.
Whether your benefits will be affected depends on several factors: Social Security benefits, job earnings, work history, family size, and other benefits you may be receiving.
That depends. All of our tech classes have traditionally been held at Empower Tennessee’s on-site computer lab. With the realities of COVID-19, we have been making the adjustment to online learning just like everyone else. So, while we don't currently offer in-home tech lessons in person, contact us to see what we have available or can work out for you online.
No. However, Empower Tennessee staff can connect you to valuable community resources that assist with a variety of housing needs.
A majority of our services are free to individuals with qualifying disabilities. However, Empower Tennessee does have a few fee-for-service programs, including brailling of materials and website accessibility testing. If there are costs, you will be notified before services are provided. In general, services are free to the community.
Empower Tennessee is always looking for people that wish to serve as Board Members, Volunteers, and Community Advocates. Check out our Get Involved page for more information.
Throughout the year we post opportunities for you to participate at events, workshops, and in the local community. You can learn more on our News and Events page.
We also are always looking for opportunities to expand what we do so Donations are also a great way to help us with our mission!
Brandon Brown has served as the Executive Director of Empower Tennessee since August 2015.
Gina Lynette joined our team as the Director of Innovation in September 2019 and became our Associate Director in April 2020.
INDEPENDENT LIVING SPECIALIST
Marissa Smith Fletcher has served as an Independent Living Specialist with Empower Tennessee since August 2017.
Independent Living Specialist
April Meredith has served as an Independent Living Specialist with Empower Tennessee since July 2016.
Quoc "Q" Lam
Independent Living Specialist
Quoc "Q" Lam has served as an Independent Living Specialist with Empower Tennessee since August 2022.
Our Board of Directors
Kasondra Farmer, President
Tina Brill, Vice-President & Secretary
Melanie Bull, Treasurer
Sarah Rayman, Past President
Robbie Bell, Past Vice President
Monica Neely, Past Treasurer
Brandon Brown, ex officio
If you are interested in joining our Board of Directors and helping to lead our organization into the future please contact us by completing the form below. If you are looking for employment opportunities or other ways to get involved, please visit our Get Involved page. Thanks for your consideration!
Empower Tennessee is a member of The Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS). AIRS is the professional membership association for community Information and Referral (I&R) serving the nonprofit and government sectors. I&R is a core service of Centers for Independent Living, including Empower Tennessee.
AIRS is the driving force behind the delivery of quality I&R services and the sole source for standards, program accreditation and practitioner certification for the I&R sector.