Success Stories

Hear Our Stories… Hear Our Voices


The Marin CIL has touched the lives of many in the community.
Please take the time to read all of these wonderful success stories.

“The Marin Center for Independent Living has been a huge comfort!”


by Nicole Follin

Photo of Nicole Follin.

When I was 19, I was an honor roll student in my sophomore year of college at Virginia Tech. Without any warning I had a brain hemorrhage that left me in a coma for 3½ weeks. It turns out I had been a "walking time bomb" since birth. I had what is called an arterial venous malformation (AVM) -- a cluster of deformed arteries that is a mass of tangled knots. When I was 19, these tangled knots started erupting. The operation that followed removed the cluster and now I have hemi-paralysis. Nothing was broken, but my nerves don't respond on my right side. It is like a stroke.

I moved to San Francisco after my accident, eventually into my own apartment, and then I moved to Marin County because the warmer weather is better for my functioning. I got involved in the Disabled Students Program at the College of Marin. In 1999, I got my Associates of Arts degree in art. I enjoy making clay and bronze sculptures.

The Marin Center for Independent Living has been a great resource for me because of the many different services that they provide. When I needed an attendant, I used their Attendant Referral Registry; when I needed housing, I searched their housing list; when I had problems with Social Security benefits after I got a job at the gallery at the College of Marin, I got counseling at the Marin Center for Independent Living; when I needed a shower bench, grab bars and steel plates to protect my doors, once again they came to the rescue. MCIL helped me get bull frogs (shock absorbers) for my wheelchair. Even when I was trying to get a curb cut made next to the bus stop at the College of Marin, their advocates assisted me in getting the curb cut on the pedestrian crossing in order for me to be safe. It is a tremendous comfort to be able to come to MCIL because whatever my stressors are, I can come there and find assistance.

“Larry would be re-entering his community and work life.”


by Lana Kennings

When my husband became suddenly disabled last year due to an epidural abscess on his cervical spinal cord, resulting in a complete paralysis, we were completely overwhelmed when faced with the task of finding the right care for him when he was finally released from the hospital. Additionally, we were faced with having to remodel some of the features in the house (the bathroom, for instance) in order to accommodate someone who could not utilize facilities in a normal home environment.

I had called a number of resources in Marin County, but it wasn't until I contacted the Marin Center for Independent Living that we got the help and appropriate referrals we needed to face this daunting task. The staff with the Personal Assistant Registry was knowledgeable, helpful, kind and supportive as we worked through the process of finding the right care partner to work with Larry. I described the kind of temperament and skill that we were hoping to hire, and we were provided with a listing of carefully screened care partners. We were very impressed with the caliber of people to whom we were referred, and we are thrilled with the excellent man who has worked with Larry. His skill is excellent and he and Larry have truly bonded… it will be hard to give him up!

“Without the support and service of the care partner we received through the Marin Center for Independent Living, I truly do not think Larry would be re-entering his community and work life as independently as he is now!”

It was also wonderful that other staff gave me referrals for the bath remodel, as well as whom to call for assistance to ready the home for a handicapped person. The Marin Center for Independent Living was the only agency who could help me with literally all of my needs. It was such a joy to be able to get all my answers from one resource. When families are faced with a newly disabled person, the shock alone is enough to deal with – having to then prepare for a return to home and community is another significant hurdle. The Marin Center for Independent Living has been an invaluable resource for us. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

“Without assistance, I wouldn't have been able to pursue my interests.”


by Shoshana Brand

Photo of Shoshana Brand and Dara Kaufman-LeDonne.

My name is Shoshana Brand and I stopped living with my parents when I was 22 years old, almost eight years ago. This is me in my home in San Rafael, California with my friend, Dara Kaufman-LeDonne, who helps me out when I need it. We just finished hosting a playwriting group that has been meeting for years. I have a longstanding interest in music and drama. I am, however, most excited about my new business, a rental audio-described film business, Blue Rose Video.

This idea started when I was younger. Because it is difficult for me to see hardly anything, my parents would buy me an audio-described video and it was so wonderful for me. But they are expensive and I thought that they should be available for rental. We needed a "Blockbusters for the Visually-Impaired." So I went to the Department of Rehabilitation and got the technology training and assistive technology I need to accommodate my vision issues and my cerebral palsy. I did focus groups bringing together people to discuss what kinds of films they wanted, what to charge, and how they would want to interact with this new company. Some of my visually-impaired friends worked on the pilot projects. We are now in the marketing phase and have a couple of hundred audio-described videos to rent and a customer base of 25 clients. This process took eight years to get to this point, and we have been taking orders for 1½ years now.

I have had many assistants over the years, several of them from the Attendant Referral Registry at the Marin Center for Independent Living. This program is very important. Without this assistance, I would not have been able to pursue my interests and build this new independent life. Building this kind of support system is decisive for me to be able to figure out how to live a useful life.