GT Independence Co-Founder David Bair devoted his life to advocating for people with disabilities, vulnerable and less fortunate people. After graduating from college, he worked for Community Mental Health of Central Michigan, where he developed his passion for helping people from all backgrounds. David spent a long career in mental health ensuring that people had a chance to live the lives they wanted.
David’s partner at GT Independence, an old friend from college, Tim Carmichael began advocating for people with disabilities in 1975 unexpectedly when his first son Ben was born. Ben was born prematurely and had severe respiratory distress. After a two year battle in the hospital, Ben got to come home, but would live the rest of his life with a developmental disability. Ben’s mother and father were immediately enveloped in a world of social services workers, forms, rules and pre-set notions about Ben’s opportunities for a meaningful life. Ben would probably never walk or talk and might not live for long. Some professionals advised that Ben be tucked away in an institution where he could be cared for “properly”. With the help of David’s counsel, Ben’s parents chose differently. They would learn to do what so many young parents have done before and since. They would push the mental health system and make it conform to Ben’s wishes rather than some arbitrary bureaucratic dictations. They would see that Ben had a life of his own choosing, with opportunities to experience the emotions that we all feel, and a chance to live up to his own potential in a community where he would be included, not shuttered away in an institution.
Ben is in his mid thirties today. He has achieved many of the things that the professionals said he would never have. He lives in a home of his own and hires the supports he needs in order to live the life he wants.
In 2004, the two old college friends, David and Tim, after distinguishing themselves in careers in finance and human services set out to build GT Independence, a new kind of company – one that actually listens to the people it serves!
Growing Services, the Right Way
GT Independence began in our own community, filling a void for services when a major provider left town. We promised to listen and serve people according to their wishes. Soon, we expanded our services to community mental health authorities across Michigan, offering our perspective on supporting people to live Self-Determined lives. Before long, it became apparent that everyone who requires supports in their day-to-day lives benefits from having choices and control over their own services. That’s when we began providing our Fiscal/Employer Agent services to people with mental health and long-term care needs in Michigan.
In 2015, we now provide a wide array of services designed to help people be independent. We serve over ten thousand people in Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida and Colorado. We are committed to collaboration, application of technology, accountability and most importantly, respect for everyone’s right to decide for themselves how their lives will be lived.
People and Technology
The growth of GT Independence has taken the company in directions that no one could have imagined. Sometimes our stakeholders questioned our ability to take on so many challenges and grow to meet the needs of so many people in a relatively short time. Throughout our growth we have relied on our two most critical resources, people and technology.
Our team consists of carefully selected, intelligent, passionate people who refuse to fail. Each member of our 140+ employee company from the newest accounting specialists to the managers to the CEO are dedicated to ensuring that the people we serve meet their goals.
Coupled with our talented workforce is a persistent commitment to the application of the latest technology. Throughout our development we have constantly invested in new ways to deliver services more efficiently. We’ve evolved through server expansions, customized software packages, electronic data recognition, Voice over IP, intelligent fax systems, automated forms processing, electronic funds transfer systems and many others to deliver the most accessible, quick and efficient human services possible.
Looking to the Future
As life in America marches forward, it is clear that more and more, people will need some support to live their lives. As a country, we need to be better at taking care of one another. We need to help people to remain a part of their own communities, living in their own homes – living independently. GT Independence will be there to meet those needs.