If you or someone you know is disabled or caring for such a person or sufferer of a chronic health condition, there is support available — in abundance. Training, information, counseling and advocacy are within reach, as well as an immense amount of truly dedicated individuals behind so many charitable centers.

Since there are literally hundreds of organizations big and small in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, take note of these selections as a great start, even if you minimally walk away with a short list of legitimate referrals. Some referrals are based on level of special needs, while others are based on income level or qualifying services — though rarely is anyone turned away. Consider your larger agencies your broker. And don’t be bashful about asking for emotional support groups of like-minded caretakers. Their counselors are committed to making you aware that you’re not alone and help to keep you grounded.

Also keep in mind that to get the best possible help for you or your loved ones, it is wise to have a punch-list of issues and concerns — physical, emotional and financial, including time restraints and the collective collaboration at home required to get through a difficult day. As almost every outreach center has a Web site, it’s essential to verify an organizations’ credentials and their state and federal affiliations, as well as sanctioned accreditations. Don’t be bashful about asking.

These organizations exist to help, but they also require some written facts, sometimes including copies of income/expenses, chronic certifications, list of medications and treatments (including those not yet engaged due to cost) and, of course, proof of guardianship — all for the sake of protecting the person who will be receiving assistance. Pay close attention to all document-gathering requirements, because sometimes a missing item can cost you days, weeks or more. And never leave an establishment without its written list of to-dos and, most importantly, help them help you — have a notepad and take notes, names and numbers. – Marco Medrano

The goal of Best Buddies Nevada is to create meaningful friendships and develop relationships between people with and without intellectual disabilities. (Credit: bestbuddiesnevada.org)

Best Buddies

500 North Rainbow, Suite 314
Las Vegas, NV 89107
(702) 822-2268

Anthony Kennedy Shriver formed Best Buddies International in 1989. The goal was simple: to conjoin meaningful friendships and develop relationships between people with and without intellectual disabilities. Best Buddies has fostered accredited programs to heighten confidence, social skills and necessary tools for intellectually challenged individuals to become more independent and active in school and their community and encouraging them to become socially trained, confident, working adults. Statistically, these individuals become withdrawn and less likely to accelerate learning skills without support. Best Buddies helps clients via individual pairing with citizen volunteers, college and high school students, Ambassador programs and “e-Buddies” pen pals — a fun and safe learning tool integrated into their special education classrooms. What’s great is Best Buddies is also international and should a family have to relocate, services continue without interruption. Best Buddies is an amazing program that addresses the needs of those entering into a quickly advancing society. Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Family TIES of Nevada

6830 West Oquendo Road, No. 100
Las Vegas, NV 89118
(702) 740-4200
(866) 326-8437

Family TIES of Nevada is a full service, nonprofit agency run by staff and board members who either have a disability or chronic disease themselves, or they are the parents of children who do. Offering extensive resources internally and appropriate referrals externally (its Web site has hundreds), as well as hosting events, conferences and workshops, Family TIES also provides advocacy services to help navigate the complex systems of care — public or private. It is a huge resource and time-saver. Besides being a member of the Parent USA Alliance following Parent-USA-Endorsed Practices, Family TIES is affiliated with www.familyvoices.org speaking on behalf of children and youth requiring special health care needs. This is a real gem of an agency with a very big heart and an even bigger community resource list. Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Opportunity Village (Headquarters)

6300 West Oakey Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89146
(702) 259-3700

Widely known in Las Vegas for superb community involvement and high-profile fundraising, Opportunity Village is just that — a village, with a huge staff of passionate, trained personnel and dedicated volunteers. With campuses, retail store and a major list of benefits and community services, Opportunity Village has been providing sanctuary and vocational training, community job placement, art and life skill enrichment, advocacy and social recreational programs to those with intellectual disabilities since 1954. Opportunity Village provides benefits with a long-term view, work experience, job skills, independence and self-esteem boosting via partnerships through local businesses. Its success rate is astounding and a huge factor why Las Vegans supports them so passionately, year round. Hours: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.