Stephanie Areman’s dream is the kind of story Ian Engle loves to tell when people walk through the doors of the Northwest Colorado Center for Independence.

As executive director, he wants to help the people who come to him, but more importantly, he wants to give them a chance to help themselves and an opportunity such as the one he had.

“NWCCI has played a big role in my life,” Areman said. “I would not be where I am today; I would not be here without these guys.”

Engle said NWCCI serves more than 110 people dealing with disabilities in Moffat, Routt, Grand, Rio Blanco and Summit counties. He said his staff in Steamboat may have played a part in Areman’s new-found independence, but added she only has to look in the mirror to find the reason she landed an apartment in the Reserves at Steamboat.

“We were just along for the ride,” Engle said. “When she came to us, it was her goal to move into her own place. We helped her come up with a plan, we discussed what to do and in what order and we helped her with research and filling out the application. But we don’t do things for people — we work with them to help them reach their goals.”

Engle said the philosophy of the center, one of 400 across the United States and nine in Colorado, is not to reinforce a feeling of entitlement that is often found at other organizations, rather to empower people by making them responsible for the eventual outcome.

Stephanie Areman sits inside her new apartment at the Reserves at Steamboat Springs. Areman said the Northwest Colorado Center For Independence helped her make a plan, kept her on track and supported her through the process of reaching her dream of independent living