Independence Empowerment Center is located at:
8409 Dorsey Circle, Suite 101
Manassas, VA 20110.
on October 1, 2013

Phone and fax numbers remain the same.
Phone: +1 703-257-5400
Fax: +1 703-257-5043

Visit us on our Facebook page!

Watching Out for Hurricane Florence

posted Sep 11, 2018, 8:24 AM by Mary Lopez

RICHMOND—Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) teams have worked throughout the weekend preparing for what may be Virginia’s most significant hurricane event in decades. With Virginia under a state of emergency, and forecasts showing Florence zeroing in on the Mid-Atlantic, the time for all Virginians to prepare is now.

While it is too soon to know the exact track that Hurricane Florence will take, the majority of forecast models are indicating significant potential impacts to Virginia in the form of coastal storm surge, catastrophic inland flooding, high winds and possible widespread power outages.

Virginia emergency managers and first responders are already mobilizing to prepare for the storm. Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency late Saturday in order to mobilize personnel and resources for storm impacts, and to speed the response to those communities that are damaged by the storm. This includes resources from VDEM, the Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Health, Virginia National Guard and others.

All Virginians should expect potential impacts and life-threatening conditions from this storm. Now is the time to prepare—Make a Kit, Get and Plan, and Stay Informed. To learn more, visit

It’s Not the Winds, It’s the Water

The largest threat to life from hurricanes is not the high winds. Flooding is the deadliest result of these storms.

Current forecast models indicate that Florence could strike the Carolinas and enter Central Virginia, possibly stalling and dropping more than 20 inches of rain in some areas. This will lead to widespread and dangerous flooding, inundation of roads and damaged infrastructure. Potential widespread power outages are also expected.

Citizens should prepare for rising waters, flash flooding, and remember to never drive across flooded roadways. Most injuries and deaths occur when motorists try to cross flooded roads. Roads and bridges can be damaged or completely washed away beneath flood waters, and a few inches of water can sweep vehicles downstream. Remember, turn around, don’t drown.

Coastal Virginia Threats and Potential Evacuations

Some forecast models are indicating a possible strike more directly on the Hampton Roads region and Coastal Virginia. If this track becomes a reality, Coastal Virginians can expect significant flooding, damaging winds and storm surge flooding throughout the region. If the storm moves on a coastal track, it would require the Commonwealth to enact its tiered evacuation plan, commonly known as Know Your Zone.

Residents in Coastal Virginia, especially those in evacuation zones A and B, should begin preparing for potential evacuation. An evacuation decision will be made Monday, September 10. If ordered, instructions about evacuation will be communicated via social media, television, radio, newspapers, and through local and state emergency management websites.

Citizens should make necessary preparations now to evacuate to higher ground, starting with knowing in which zone your home and business are located. You can type in your address at to find out your designated zone. Resources are also available on the Know Your Zone website to learn more about the program, what to plan for and expect in the event of an evacuation, and how to ensure you are ready once you receive evacuation instructions.

Once you Know Your Zone, you should stay tuned to local media for detailed instructions from your local emergency manager about where to go, available shelters and evacuation routes, and when you will be able to return to your home.

Have questions about Know Your Zone? Learn more here.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late to Prepare

With the onset of tropical storm force winds and rain only a couple of days away, the time to prepare is now. Get your home, business and family ready for whatever impacts this storm may bring. Hurricane season lasts through November 30, so more storms may target Virginia this year.

Visit to learn how to prepare for these deadly storms. It could save your life.


Additional Considerations:

  • Make sure that you have an old-fashioned land line phone available at home instead of only cordless phones that rely on power.  In recent times, because we all have cordless phones, most of us are without phone service because our phones are power dependent when actually, the phone lines are working and a phone plugged directly into the phone jack will work.
  • Before the storms hits, make sure your gas tank is full in case you have to evacuate, power outages keep the pumps from working, or hurricane damage in other areas prevents gas trucks from getting here.
  • Keep some cash in small bills on hand in case a power outage closes banks, keeps ATMs from working, or keeps card-readers unavailable at stores.
  • If you are storing water yourself, only store it in water storage containers or soda bottles, do not store it in empty milk or juice containers.  Even if you think you have cleaned a milk or juice container well, there will still be bacteria hiding in there that can make you sick.
  • Keep pets indoors with you during the storm and if you must evacuate take your pets with you.  If it isn’t safe for you to be there, it isn’t safe for your pets.
  • The right-front quadrant of the storm can carry unstable weather with it, as it passes through which means there will be a greater chance for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.  Keep this in mind as we watch the track of the storm as it heads our way.
  • Never, ever use a generator inside – never, ever!
  • Do not cross flooded roadways, swollen creeks, or streams – it only takes inches of water to carry a vehicle away!



Chip Stratton, ECO

Safety and Risk Management

Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center

Department for Aging and Rehabilitation Center

Office (540) 332-7163

Cell     (540) 241-3452

Fax     (540) 332-7982


posted Feb 27, 2018, 1:18 PM by Mary Lopez   [ updated Mar 1, 2018, 7:39 AM ]

Contact Person:

Dr. Mary Lopez

Executive Director

Independence Empowerment Center

703-257-5400 ext. 117


March 1, 2018







Manassas, VA 20110

11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.


We will honor those with disabilities who died too soon.  We will honor those who died because someone thought “better dead than disabled”.


This Day of Mourning will be held nationwide on this date. We will read off from a list of names of those killed. Please join us in Manassas as we remember and as we say to those who passed, “Your lives were not in vain.”


We will gather by the Pavilion in Nelson Park (8915 Grant Avenue).



Preventative Actions--Flu

posted Feb 7, 2018, 1:21 PM by Mary Lopez

Read the two attached files about handwashing and fighting germs.

Giving Tuesday, Tuesday, November 28, 2017

posted Nov 26, 2017, 3:39 PM by Mary Lopez   [ updated Nov 26, 2017, 3:42 PM ]









Whether it’s a new family frightened beyond belief by their new baby’s sudden seizures; a grade schooler with cerebral palsy who wants to play sports; a young teen with a learning disability who wants to go to college; or an aged member of our community with mobility issues who does not want to go to a nursing home, we will work with that person or those families to see that their goals are met.  Maybe not in the way they first envisioned, but in a way that works for them, and the goals are accomplished with their involvement, every step of the way.


Independence Empowerment Center is our community’s only one stop Center for disability information, referrals and services for those of all ages and with any type of disability, no matter the severity of that disability or the length of time they have had it.

Please Make Donations                                   Tax Information

Ctrl click to follow                                                   IEC is a registered 501(c)3

PayPal.Me/IndependenceEmpowerm                                         Our Tax ID is 54-1953287

Text Box: Independence Empowerment Center 8409 Dorsey Circle, Suite 101 Manassas, VA 20110 703-257-5400 Email: Facebook: Independence Empowerment Center






IEC supports people with disabilities to achieve their goals by providing five core services – Peer Counseling, Advocacy, Information and Referral (I&R) Independent Living Skills Training and Transition Services.  We also assist our consumers with Medicaid, SSI, Waivers, Individualized Education Plans, Assistive Technology, and local businesses with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, Disability Awareness and Etiquette Training.

ADA Celebration - 10th Annual!! July 22, 2017

posted Jul 19, 2017, 7:18 AM by Mary Lopez

An "every person" kind of event with something for everyone!!  Come help us Celebrate the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Get useful information from vendors like AARP to Yellow Cab and everyone in between.  Enjoy live music performed by Mike Simms.  Meet a fantastic photographer, Michael Moody.  See and buy artwork from John Hollohan who calls his work CP Art.  Enjoy the wonderful food from Phat Yummies.  Win the raffle for a $100 gas gift card.  Join the bidding war in our Silent Auction.  Let the kids take part in games for them.  Purchase a t-shirt designed by  our contest winner 11 year old Derek Asmen.

The Harris Pavilion, 9201 Center Street, Manassas, VA 20110

10:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Annual Meeting and Volunteer Recognition

posted Aug 24, 2016, 1:23 PM by Mary Lopez   [ updated Jul 19, 2017, 7:15 AM ]

Announcing Independence Empowerment Center’s Annual Meeting and Recognition of Volunteers and Others

 Come learn about what has been happening at IEC this past year.  Meet other members of IEC and offer your thanks and congratulations for things accomplished and make suggestions for changes.


Place:    TBD                                         Time:  4pm – 6pm

                                                                                   Date: September 27, 2017    

                Manassas, VA 20110           Light snacks will be provided

                                                      (To hold you over until you get home to dinner)


posted Aug 24, 2016, 1:15 PM by Mary Lopez   [ updated Jul 19, 2017, 7:22 AM ]

Thank You Independence Empowerment Center!! Posted on July 25th 2016 By Tammy Beard

posted Jul 26, 2016, 10:33 AM by Mary Lopez   [ updated Jun 19, 2017, 9:56 AM ]

This past weekend we were involved with the Independence Empowerment Center’s ADA Fair. This event celebrates the signing of the American’s with Disabilities Act by President George Herbert Walker Bush on July 26th, 1990. This law was the first inclusive civil rights law that addressed the needs of the disabled population of the United States. The law was created to eliminate the obstructions that existed for those with disabilities in the areas of employment, public services, public accommodations, and telecommunications. The sweeping legislation tore down the barriers that limited those with disabilities from being active and involved citizens in their communities.
Being a part of the ADA Fair is something that we always look forward to. Dr Mary Lopez, the director of the I.E.C. (Independence Empowerment Center) has become a friend of Yellow Cab and our family. She is a wonderful, fun, and spunky lady who always makes us laugh, but has also been essential in fighting for the rights of those in the county with disabilities. It was through our interactions with the IEC, its partners, and Dr Lopez, that we decided to purchase our first accessible vans.
When you seek to be a part of something, like we do this community, and you see there is a huge unmet need, you do whatever it takes to address it in the best way you can. Our accessible vans cost more to purchase, more to insure, more to train drivers to use properly, but we pushed all of that out of our minds, went with our hearts, and did what we knew was needed and right. It was one of the best things that we have ever done. The vans have been an amazing asset to the people that need them. People now have the ability to get where they need to go without being charged the astronomical rates that previous non-emergency medical transport companies would charge. The people who drive the vans have formed friendships with the people they are driving. In some cases they have been all but formally adopted into their passenger’s families. We are servicing people who truly need this transportation to be a part of their community. We cannot express in words how grateful we are to be able to provide the much needed service. We also cannot say thank you enough to the IEC and Dr. Lopez for showing us how important and necessary these services are to this community.
While hot, very hot, I mean BLAZING hot, the event was as wonderful as ever. Dr Lopez and her team at the Independence Empowerment Center always get together just the right mix of people, companies, and organizations that really care about the disabled population of Prince William County. The vendors this year were no exception. We were able to meet with our customers and discuss things we are doing to help, and things we can do to better help. There were many people there that have become old friends of our company and we were able to make new friends as well. We love the smiling faces and caring hearts we always encounter at this event. The auction is also one of our favorites and while we didn’t spend as much this year, we think we were the big winners yet again!
Thank you Independence Empowerment Center and Dr. Lopez for the invitation to participate in your event again this year. We look forward to coming to many more and if you keep inviting Phat Yummies you may have to fight us not to come!


posted Jun 3, 2016, 2:04 PM by Mary Lopez

Me Before You is yet another example of a disabled character - written by a non-disabled author and played by a non-disabled actor - who opts for suicide, rather than to live with a physical impairment.  The list is almost endless, from Whose Life Is It, Anyway to Gattaca to Million Dollar Baby.  

Disabled people are sick of it being seen as reasonable for us to kill ourselves.  Suicide is not portrayed as reasonable for non-disabled people.  We are angry that non-disabled people feel free to misrepresent our lives and to create fiction about disability based on their own fears & prejud
ices.  Such bigotry & misrepresentation would not be considered acceptable about any other minority.  It is time disabled people were treated with the same respect as other citizens.

No more able-bodied actors pretending to have disabilities. No more non-disabled writers devaluing our lives out of ignorance and prejudice!

Picture this:  An able-bodied person has a bad day at the office, the significant other has left, and the car’s transmission is shot.  Everything is going wrong.  The person is depressed. “Yea! Let’s have a movie where the answer for this person is suicide or assisted suicide!”  That’s the answer, right? No, suicide is only the credible or expected answer if the person already has a disability. People are quick to direct a person to get suicide prevention counseling if they are able-bodied.  But for people with disabilities, overwhelmingly, the answer is Better Dead than Disabled!

Well, We Beg to Differ!!!

Webinar and Survey on Medicaid Consumer-Directed Services Overtime Change

posted May 9, 2016, 7:29 AM by Mary Lopez   [ updated Jun 26, 2017, 9:48 AM ]

Webinar, Thursday, May 12, 12noon 
Registration required: Webinar on CD 40 Limit (
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. The webinar will cover the history of this issue and advocacy strategies. 

Survey to Gather Information on CD 40 Hour Cap 
The Virginia Association of Centers for Independent Living has a survey to gather information about the 
potential impact of the 40-hour cap. Results of the survey will be used to formulate advocacy strategies.
Participate in the survey at Survey CD 40 (

Medicaid Consumer-Directed (CD) Assistants to Be Limited to 40 Hours a Week 

In 2013, federal Department of Labor regulations were amended to require overtime pay to certain 
types of employees previously exempted from some provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. DOL on Homecare. One of the changes required overtime for certain employees. This change impacts Virginia 
Medicaid-funded consumer-directed (CD) personal care, respite and companion assistants. 

In response to the federal regulations, the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) began paying overtime to Medicaid CD assistants on January 1, 2016. The General Assembly then eliminated all overtime for Medicaid CD assistants effective July 1. 

The General Assembly did not limit the number of hours that an individual can use each week for services. People with disabilities can continue to use the number of hours they have authorized. For many people this might mean they have to hire additional CD assistants. 

At this time, Medicaid live-in CD assistants are not be impacted by this change. Also at this time, a Medicaid CD assistant can work for more than one individual and work more than 40 hours between the individuals they work for. For example, the CD assistant can work 40 hours for individual A and 40 hours for individual B. If in the future it is determined that DMAS is a joint employer with the employer of record, live-in assistants and CD assistants working for more than one individual could also be limited to 40 hours a week of CD employment. This change may – 

 Make it even harder to recruit assistants in rural areas with low populations and long travel distances and in northern Virginia where the cost of living is so high 
 Put people at risk due to their unique support needs making it hard to find multiple assistants for these unique needs 
 Cause harm when there are weather or other emergencies in which one assistant has to stay longer because the second assistant cannot travel to the person’s home 
 Increase struggles related to unexpected illnesses like the flu when an adult with significant disabilities living on their own may temporarily need more extensive support to deal with symptoms.

The potential for crisis is very real for people with disabilities who need supports to avoid placement in a nursing facility or other institution. For many people, agency-directed personal care services are not an option either because agencies do not have appropriate staff or the individual already tried agency-directed services and the agency was not able to meet the individual’s needs. 

What Can We Do Now? 

The Virginia General Assembly has completed their legislative session for this year. However, you can meet with your state Senators and Delegates in their home district offices. Continue to educate legislators about how limiting assistants to 40 hours a week will impact you. Contact information for legislators can be found at Who Is My Legislator ( ) 

The Virginia Association of Centers for Independent Living (VACIL) has a survey to gather information about the potential impact of the 40-hour cap. Results of the survey will be used to formulate advocacy strategies. Participate in the survey at Survey CD 40 ( )

Participate in the May 12 webinar. Webinar on CD 40 Limit ( )

Advocate for an exceptions process to minimize the negative impact of the 40 hour cap. Information about a possible exceptions process can be found at Exception Process. ( )

We will discuss this during the May 12 webinar. 

Background on Consumer-Directed Overtime 

1998 – Virginia Medicaid began paying for CD personal care services. Services are authorized based on the needs of people with disabilities and assistants work the hours needed without consideration of overtime wages. 2013 – Federal Department of Labor (DOL) regulations amended to require overtime pay for “companionship services” which include personal care, respite and companion services. 
2014 & 2015 – Regulations challenged and ultimately upheld in court. 
December 17, 2015 – Governor McAuliffe introduces the state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2016. The introduced budget would continue limited Medicaid CD overtime; assistants could work up to 56 hours a week for the same individual (16 hours a week of overtime). 
January 1, 2016 –Commonwealth of Virginia began paying overtime for Medicaid CD assistants working more than 40 hours a week for the same individual. 
March 11, 2016 –General Assembly votes to prohibit overtime wages for Medicaid CD assistants. 
April 10, 2016 – Governor submits a budget amendment to allow Medicaid CD assistants to work up to 56 hours in a work week and pay 16 hours of overtime. 
April 20, 2016 – General Assembly votes to reject the Governor’s amendment. The budget amendment adopted on March 11 is effective July 1. General Assembly Budget Amendment ( )

Please share this message with others.

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