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Group helping combat isolation for those with disabilities in Ottawa, Allegan counties

"Because of underlying health conditions, it's forced them not to be able to work or to be out just interacting with other people," Trowbridge said.

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — The pandemic has left many people feeling isolated and more lonely than usual. And for those with disabilities, that isolation is even greater.

Disability Network Lakeshore, or DNL, is working to change that, and they're doing it with money through the CARES Act from the federal government.  

"The pandemic has created significant social isolation," said Stacey Trowbridge, Director of Community Development for DNL. 

Trowbridge said that isolation has been even more difficult for people with disabilities of all kinds.

"Because of underlying health conditions, it's forced them not to be able to work or to be out just interacting with other people," Trowbridge said.

For those in Ottawa and Allegan counties, DNL is helping to fight that loneliness.

DNL received a grant of approximately $30,000 to combat social isolation in Ottawa and Allegan Counties.

DNL was given nearly $30,000 from a cares act grant.

Stacey Trowbridge breaks down how they plan to use the money. 

"Hot spots and data plans for people who lack internet access," she said. "Just to help promote an opportunity for them to connect with other people, connect with the outside world."

Trowbridge added, "These funds, if at a minimum, can allow someone access to others online it definitely reduces that loneliness and disconnection."

Trowbridge said they'll also use the money to provide more information about COVID-19 vaccine clinics. 

"Resources for how to get connected if they have issues with access because of their disability whether it's a physical barrier or something else," said Trowbridge. 

DNL will also put the money towards assisting people who might need help buying food and getting around with gift cards to local grocery stores and gas cards to help with transportation. They are also offering bus cards for public transit. 

Trowbridge said she worries some people may think their disability won't qualify them for any benefits or services, but DNL is there to help everyone they can.

"There's a lot of different disabilities," said Trowbridge. "And most of them are hidden. Over 85% of disabilities are hidden."

She added that they're, "encouraging people to call us with any question related to resource needs, because we can connect them to a variety of resources in the community."

Trowbridge said their help is based on your need, not on your disability type. 

For more information about the services or to contact DNL, you can call them at 616-396-5326 or email at info@dnlakeshore.org.

You can also visit their website https://www.dnlakeshore.org/

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