How DRA started
The concept of Disability Resource Association was formed in 1995-1996 by a small group of local disability advocates. These advocates established the goal of forming a Center for Independent Living to serve the needs of Jefferson County. During the same time period, Missouri was in the process of deciding how to expand the independent living network within the state. The original group of advocates with the assistance of the Center for Independent Living located in St. Louis, Paraquad, fought for and obtained funding for what is now Disability Resource Association, (DRA).
How DRA Took Shape
In 1996, DRA opened as a satellite location of Paraquad and began providing basic services for the citizens of Jefferson County, Missouri. In late, 1998, DRA broke away from Paraquad and became a free standing not for profit organization. At the time, DRA had four staff and an operating budget of $205,000 annually. After breaking from the parent organization, DRA evolved independently without the input of the other twenty centers in the state of Missouri. This evolution process resulted in DRA taking shapes and forms very different from other Centers for Independent Living in the state
By 2001, DRA had grown significantly having eleven staff and a budget of $419,000. During the period, the organization began the process of seeking outside funding while establishing the Consumer Directed Services Program to generate income. As revenue and staff increased so did the variety of services provided. The organization established an active ADA compliance and accessibility program, educational advocacy, essential medical transportation, MO Property Tax refund assistance, (C.B. Tax Credit), and what would evolve into the holiday programs.
Where DRA is Today
As of 2015, DRA has grown to a staff of over fifty with an annual budget exceeding $7,000,000. $353,483.00 of the 2015 budget came from corporate and foundation grants while $17,300.00 was received from individual donations.
DRA also houses and provides administration support for four additional not-for-profit organizations. These include Access Housing, DRA In-Home services, Jefferson County Hunger Task Force, and The Homeless Youth Initiative. Together these growing organizations employ over fifty people and coordinate over 100 volunteers.
DRA is the HUD certified Community Housing Development Organization for Jefferson County. In this capacity the organization has developed three housing communities with a total of 130 affordable housing units.
In 2008, DRA’s Essential Medical Transportation Program consisted of two used wheelchair accessible vans. Today there are two transportation programs, Essential Medical and Workforce Transportation. The Workforce Transportation Program provides transit for college, trade school, employment and job seeking activities. DRA’s transportation programs now consist of eight wheelchair accessible vans and three mid-size cars. During 2015, DRA provided approximately 9,800 rides with a budget of approximately $297,000.00.