Anne Weeks was born in WV but grew up in Ohio. She returned to WV in 1981 to help DRS apply for funding to establish the first center for independent living in the state. She worked for DRS as an independent living specialist, wrote the federal grant, worked with the board and staff of the Huntington Center for Independent Living to establish the policies and procedures, and is considered one of the founders. In her role with DRS, she helped the center through its first 2 directors before the board finally hired her for that job.
She made sure that the center was grounded in the independent living philosophy. She made sure staff and consumers had opportunities to learn and to be involved in advocacy. In 1988, she opened a second center in Beckley, WV. Both centers have worked tirelessly on the accessibility of their communities. The Huntington office and consumers even secured a judgment against the City of Huntington from the Department of Justice regarding curb cuts. The Beckley office has had great success getting improved sidewalk and curb cut accessibility. The staff in Huntington worked with the Mayor many years ago to establish the Mayor's Committee on People with Disabilities. When the center in Beckley opened, they worked with the Mayor there to establish a similar committee. Our inductee has never failed to support the advocacy activities of her staff and consumers and to make sure people could get where they needed to be to testify, educate, and advocate for disability rights.
Prior to the 1992 amendments to the Rehabilitation Act, there was no statewide independent living council. There was, instead, an independent living advisory council. The powers that be made sure she was never appointed to that council. But she went to all the meetings anyway. She knew and cared more about independent living than anybody in the state and she had to keep tabs on the council and what they were doing. After the 1992 amendments, the state was required to establish the Statewide Independent Living Council as a partner with equal power, not as an advisory council. She was not only appointed to the new SILC, she became the chairperson.
This was a very critical time when the SILC was figuring out what it was supposed to be and do and having her at the helm, as the guiding force, is the reason the SILC is the strong council it is today. She made sure that council members received excellent training on their responsibilities as a council and on what the Rehab Act said and required. She is the reason the SILC has staff and office space. She is the reason the SILC is a non-profit corporation. She is the reason we have a Disability Caucus.
In short, independent living in West Virginia would not be or look anything like it does today without her guidance, direction, and contributions to the movement.