SIL and BCCA Merger: Providing a More Independent Life for Populations in Need

When given the opportunity to potentially increase necessary services to a larger need population in mid-Missouri just one year ago, Jessica Macy from the Boone County Council on Aging and Tec Chapman from Services for Independent Living wasted no time in making it happen.

In November, the two organizations officially merged and took on the Services for Independent Living name. Last month, the merged organization became housed under one roof at SIL’s current establishment, 1401 Hathman Place.

The new SIL will offer all of the services formerly provided by the previous SIL and BCCA, meaning that the lives of people 55 and older and those affected by disabilities will have access to: information and referral, volunteer services (friendly visiting, grocery shopping, food pantry delivery, home repairs, lawn mowing, leaf raking, snow shoveling, etc.), case management, advocacy, independent living skills, peer support, transportation, and community living and accessibility aid.

“The biggest benefit to this merger is expanding access for people who need such services across seven counties,” says Chapman, executive director. “It’s all about increasing independence for those in need.”

Macy, deputy director, says that the merger will also help decrease stigmas about those who are aging and have disabilities.

“There is a big difference in aging with a disability and aging into a disability,” she says. “That’s a stigma that our society has and because of it our clients at BCCA didn’t want to ask for the type of services offered by SIL. They didn’t consider themselves to have a disability, they just had issues with mobility or other things. The new SIL offers options for that, which are best serving the two different markets.”

While the benefits for the merger are undoubtedly great, there have been challenges. Primarily, getting the word out to the community, donors and volunteers that BCCA hasn’t gone away, it’s simply joined with SIL and that SIL does now in fact offer services that serve the aging population.

“I think BCCA and SIL are two of the best kept secrets in mid-Missouri,” Chapman says. “This merging process have given us the opportunity to reach out and have a platform to raise awareness for all that we can do.”

Heather Stewart, director of marketing and strategic initiatives, says that various ways of communication have been and will be used to best market the merger, such as newsletters, public appearances, face-to-face meetings, social media, sponsored events, and most importantly, word of mouth.

“Particularly with service-learning, we have students hear about us because of the positive experience we provide that has given us word of mouth,” Stewart says. “With the merger, they’ll get an even better experience with more chances to branch out and try new things.”

Chapman agrees.

“It’s really exciting for us and the students because they aren’t going to get just one experience,” he says.

Along with the wide array of options, the volunteer coordination process will continue to be simple for students.

“All we had to do was replace the logo on the application packet,” Macy says. “Besides that, it’s going to be the same application and orientation process for students no matter which population they wish to work with.”

To learn more about volunteering with the new SIL, visitsilcolumbia.org/volunteer. Further information can be gathered from the MU Serves website atmuserves.missouri.edu or by calling or emailing the Service-Learning Office at 573-882-0227 orservicelearning@missouri.edu.