Lillian Wong is an advocate with Disability Alliance BC (DABC) and has been with the organization for 15 years. I had the chance to have a short Q&A with her about her experiences.
How did you come to work for DABC? What made you stay? I was volunteering here when I was completing my Masters of Social Work at UBC – I was the phone receptionist with the Advocacy program. What made me stay on was the organization’s passion for working with the marginalized disability community. DABC is a great organization – it’s teamwork. There’s no ego. There’s no patronizing. Everyone is equal – everyday, everyone looks out for each other’s back and helps each other. It’s cohesive.
Does your organization serve your immediate community (Vancouver) or all of BC? We serve all of BC—my colleagues do workshops everywhere.
Can you briefly explain your work? I help people with disabilities, with income assistance, and provincial disability benefits. Disability applications – or housing applications, RSDPs. Most of them come to our office, and at times I will meet them elsewhere. My specific clientele is homeless and they are financially disadvantaged. The most marginalized in society. We’re non-profit, so it catches people who are falling through the cracks. We take them through the whole process: from the beginning and until they get the results. If we get denials, I’ll refer them to my colleagues who do appeals.
What has surprised you the most about working with DABC? I am constantly amazed at people’s resilience with what they have to cope with, financially and medically.
What do you worry about, and why? I worry that clients will fall through the cracks – the shelter, food, safety, what will happen when they get older with a disability. Aging with a disability, and what will happen to them.
What do you think keeps your clients going? Hope – that there’s something better. I am most excited about the RDSP – and the hope [it gives] to press on. With PWD benefits they are allowed to earn some money and not get penalized. Then they can save up for a future with the RDSP.
The RDSP is a long-term savings plan designed to help Canadians with disabilities at all income levels save for their futures.
DABC plans to help eligible people to apply for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC)—which you need for the RDSP—and connect them to Plan Institute’s RDSP Helpline and Guide or BCANDS, for further help to open an RDSP.
DABC will travel to communities across BC to increase awareness about the program, through workshops and one-on-one clinics.
To learn more and to request a workshop, call Linda at DABC: 604-872-1278; 1-800-663-1278 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
DABC (formerly known as the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities) was formed in 1977 and has been a provincial, cross-disability voice in British Columbia since then. To fulfill their mission, they:
- Provide one-to-one assistance for people with all disabilities;
- Produce and provide publications free of charge;
- Design and implement programs and special projects; and
- Work closely with community partners to promote positive change for people with disabilities.
Their programs include:
Advocacy Access Program: Help clients to access provincial and federal disability benefits, health supplements, and other programs such as subsidized housing. Many clients are homeless or insecurely housed.
Tax AID DABC: Help people receiving provincially funded Persons with Disability (PWD) or Person with Persistent Multiple Barriers (PPMB) to file their income taxes. This service is open all year, and their specialty is helping people file multiple years of taxes.
BC Personal Supports Network: A network of organizations that helps people with disabilities obtain assistive devices.
CARMA: Peer support that promotes a enhanced quality of life and self-determination for George Pearson Centre residents.
Publications: Produce a range of materials including self-help publications, an e-newsletter, advocates manuals, health guides and their flagship magazine, Transition.
Outreach: Facilitate free on-site legal clinics on disability benefits through community partnerships and also provide information and capacity building workshops.
DABC is led by Executive Director Jane Dyson, who has been with the organization since 1998, first as an advocate and for the past 8 years as its Executive Director. In 2015, Jane was awarded the Order of British Columbia for her work in the community.