Celebrating 30 years of service to the disabled

By Matt Porter

December 10, 2013 Updated Dec 10, 2013 at 9:33 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Susan Link beamed with pride as she sat in her red motorized wheel chair.

She was looking at 30 posters, one detailing each year of the Southern Tier Independence Center's three decades of service.

"Even though I've been a part of a lot of this, once you see it, you go, 'Wow,'" Link said.

Link said her life had always been about proving to everyone she could beat expectations.

"When my doctor found out I was pregnant with my first son, he said, 'Well how did that happen?' And he was serious!" she laughed.

25 years earlier Link discovered STIC.

She was evicted from her Binghamton home and turned to the organization for help finding accessible housing.

"I walked in this building," Link said, "And I was like, 'Oh my God, this is what I always wanted my whole entire life."

She quickly took a job and has been working at STIC ever since.

Maria Dibble, a founder of STIC and its executive director, said its mission has always been to level the playing field.

The organization has grown from four members to 370, and its budget has risen from a $100,000 grant to more than $8 million.

"People with disabilities have the right to expect to be as included in the community as everybody else," Dibble said.

Dibble herself is blind from glaucoma,

She said 35 to 40 percent of STIC's employees are disabled in some way.

For Link who works as a director for STIC's peer counselors, every day is a chance to be a role model.

"I hope they look and say," Link said, "'If she can do it, maybe I can too.' And that's what I always hope for."

Mayor Matt Ryan and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo were invited to speak at the anniversary party and said STIC has done a tremendous job making the Southern Tier more accessible.

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