On June 24, 2015, the West Virginia disability community lost a valuable advocate, leader, and friend when David Stewart left this world at CAMC Memorial Hospital in Charleston, WV.
David was a former member and chairperson of the WV Statewide Independent Living Council. He was chairperson when the first staff was hired and led us through the process of establishing an office and our standing in the WV Disability Community.
He began his involvement in disability advocacy when he went to the newly opened Beckley Center for Independent Living (now Mountain State Centers for Independent Living) in 1988 to find out what it was all about and became a volunteer. That curiosity led to his becoming a board member of the Center which led to his becoming a SILC member. As the chairperson of the SILC, David became a member of the WV State Rehabilitation Council. He worked at WV Advocates as the PAIR Advocate (Protection & Advocacy for Individual Rights) and through research and training became an expert on the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). He continued his ADA work at Eastlake, Derry & Associates, a nationally recognized ADA consulting firm, and as coordinator for the WV ADA Coalition through the Northern WV Center for Independent Living.
David was a consultant with the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center providing trainings, answering questions, and providing technical assistance to individuals and businesses throughout Region III (Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, & West Virginia).
David also served on many other boards including the Fair Shake Network, Goodwill Industries, WV ACLU, and the WV Olmstead Council.
David was a kind, understanding friend and a quiet yet powerful leader and advocate. One of his greatest joys was advocating at the WV Legislature, sharing his vast knowledge and experience, applying pressure where needed, and "slaying" bills that would have a negative impact on the lives and rights of West Virginians with disabilities.
David was a loving husband to his wife, Jan Lilly-Stewart, and they made an unbeatable team. He loved music, genealogy, coin collecting, and spending time with friends and family. He is greatly missed by his family and by all his colleagues and friends, but he shared so much of himself with so many of us that we carry him with us and his presence will be felt far into the future of disability rights advocacy in West Virginia.
The role of WVSILC
The West Virginia Statewide Independent Living Council was established under the 1992 amendments of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Council members are appointed by the Governor and include representatives from the Centers for Independent Living, the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services (WVDRS), and other state agencies that provide services for individuals with disabilities.
The Council consists of twenty-four voting members and seven ex-officio non-voting members. A majority of the voting members are individuals with disabilities who are not employed by a center for independent living or by a state agency. This means that the council is consumer controlled and directed, in keeping with the independent living philosophy.
The independent living philosophy is one of consumer control, peer support, self-help, self-determination, equal access, and individual and systems advocacy in order to maximize the leadership, empowerment, independence, and productivity of individuals with disabilities, and the integration and full inclusion of individuals with disabilities into the mainstream of society.
The Council meets on the first Wednesday of February, April, June, August, October and December. If you have an issue you would like the Council to address, or if you would like to speak at a meeting, contact the SILC office two weeks prior to the scheduled Council meeting. The SILC values the input of individuals across the state and wants to know about your needs and concerns.
Mission, Vision, Values
Mission - To ensure persons who have disabilities have access to community-based resources that promote personal choice and facilitate the achievement of their independent living goals.
Vision - To be a consumer-controlled council that is effective in leading a statewide independent living movement that empowers persons who have disabilities.
Values - The West Virginia Statewide Independent Living Council is committed to the following values: freedom of choice; diversity; respect for others; quality of life; equality; excellence; fiscal responsibility; self-reliance and self-sufficiency; and inclusion.