GILD, a Group for the Independent Learning Disabled, was founded in 1988 by four parents of learning-disabled children who became increasingly concerned and aware of the possibility that they [parents] could become disabled or die and leave a child with a great need for support.
Therefore, the aim of this non-profit group is to provide the services and teachings that will be necessary for the young learning-disabled adults to have quality independent lives. The group's 45 members act as advocates for their own children and all learning disabled.
According to Georgia Casey, GILD president and one of the founders, ''The ability of the learning disabled can range from various degrees of dyslexia to a lack of an attention span or memory and to those who can barely function.
''There is such a wide range in ability, such a great disparity among the learning disabled, they cannot be categorized,'' she says.
''The young LD adults may graduate from high school but are without proper skills, having been the brunt of many years of being treated as inferior students and as socially awkward. Often they have a very low image of themselves and little self-esteem. Many cannot hold a job,'' says Casey.
GILD's hope is to offer housing, teach financial planning, social skills and conflict resolution, plus job counseling, crisis management and leisure time. They want to continue as an information resource support group and establish funds for supervision and management.
GILD founders were Arnold Fleischmann, an attorney; Casey, a Realtor; Fred Schutzman, a senior executive in the federal government, and Janet Schutzman, a social worker. They formed GILD with the help of Peggy Hayslip, director of special services at Essex Community College, and Debe Stagmer, president of the Association of Learning Disabled Adults.
Volunteers are needed for many areas, such as professionals who can evaluate the learning disabled in order to place them in proper programs. There is a need for fund-raisers, teachers and employers who hire the LD and who could give advice on some of the problems consistent with hiring one.
Anyone interested in joining them or volunteering is welcome. The meetings are held on the second Wednesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. at the Essex Community College in the Student Union Building. To volunteer or for any information about GILD, call Georgia Casey at 321-6111.