The story of how DCRC got its start is well-worth telling.
The year was 1976. The place, Los Angeles, where a band of driven, eager friends – all with disabilities – got together with steadfast determination to start an independent living center on the west side of the City. In late August of that year, the Westside Center for Independent Living was officially formed. The state Department of Rehabilitation started them off with a grant of $90,000 which required $10,000 in matching funds. Elated, the group leased storefront offices at National and Barrington. E. Sherman Clarke, a doctoral candidate at UCLA who was blind and quadriplegic, was selected as the first Executive Director.
Less than a year later E. Sherman Clarke died and the leased office was destroyed by fire. To survive, the Board had to raise $10,000 to receive the $90,000 DOR grant. By the end of 1976, WCIL had a new executive Director, Douglas A. Martin, and a strong Board of Directors who went straight to work. They quickly held a meeting with invited guests to discuss the enormous challenges facing this small but gutsy nonprofit.
Helen Levin was one of the guests at that meeting and soon after mailed a check for $10,000 to WCIL and, in essence, gave WCIL to Los Angeles, where for the first time, people with disabilities served people with disabilities – peer to peer.
In 1977, WCIL moved into the refurbished National and Barrington offices. When the space could no longer accommodate staff, members and volunteers, Helen Levin, her husband Jack, with longtime friends, corporate entities, and the City of Los Angeles donated the building and funds to create the perfect accessible structure which remains our comfortable home today at the corner of Beethoven Street and Venice Boulevard. Known as the Phillips Levin Building it proudly carries the name of our greatest benefactors.
In 2017, WCIL changed its name to the Disability Community Resource Center (DCRC), to better reflect our community impact and work.
Today DCRC is never without members representing a vast array of intersectional people with disabilities as diverse as Los Angeles. Our members come every weekday to DCRC, both in person and online, for programs and services designed specifically to meet the evolving needs of our community.
We could not be more proud of our rich 45 year history of service as we look forward to a bright future of growth, prosperity and continued independence! Please join us by donating to DCRC at www.dcrc.co/donate/ and continue to follow our social media throughout our 45th year to hear more about our members, our work and our plans for the future of Independent Living.