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Living Independently in Northwest Kansas

About Us

LINK is a non-profit organization and receives funding from various sources. LINK, Inc., and its’ Independent Living Services Program are funded in part LINK, Inc., and its’ Independent Living Services Program are funded in part through Rehabilitation Services, the state vocational rehabilitation agency in Kansas. Grant Funding was comprised of State General Funds and Federal Funds. Federal funds are authorized under PL 105-220 VII Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. Program Title: Independent Living—State Grants CFDA/Subprogram No. 93-369. The contents and/or events of LINK, Inc., programs do not necessarily represent the policies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and or Kansas Department of Rehabilitation Services, and you should not assume endorsement by the State or Federal Government. Please help us help others through your generous tax deductible donation.


LINK Board Members

Tami Allen, Convener
Lidia Werth, Secretary
Drue Herl, Treasurer
Jody Patten
Joella Schartz
Jackie Skolout

In 1979

Operation LINK began as a branch of Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas. Operation LINK was formed through the provisions made in the Rehabilitation Act. Operation LINK is the first Independent Living Program implemented in a rural setting in the mid-western United States LINK provided services in 9 counties: Norton, Phillips, Smith, Graham, Rooks, Osborne, Trego, Ellis and Russell. This area covered over 10,000 square miles with a population of over 60,000. Paula McElwee was Executive Director during this time.

In 1980

The Kansas Rehabilitation Association presented an award at their annual banquet to Operation LINK. Operation LINK was cited for outstanding work that directly contributed to persons in northwest Kansas whom have mental, physical, or emotional impairments and help them achieve personal goals through increased self-reliance and interdependence. The staff consisted of Lee Razak, Paula Dinkel, Barbara Schleich and Robert Mikesic.

In 1983

LINK hosted an awards ceremony with guest speaker Howard Moses, a longtime advocate of rights for the disabled, who was instrumental in spearheading support for new state legislation benefiting the disabled, including the state accessibility law, non-discrimination against severely disabled in life and disability insurance policies and tax credits for removal of architectural barriers. During that ceremony, Operation LINK highlighted outstanding accomplishments of participants during 1982 and each individual received a certificate of merit, based upon the significant progress that has occurred in an area of particular importance in their life.

In 1987

Operation LINK had offices in three locations: Hays, Smith Center and Stockton. There is a total of 8 full time staff and three part-time staff. Operation LINK became incorporated with its own governing board that year.

In 1989

Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas received a grant to renovate an old building in Hays so that LINK could have its own accessible location. The office then was located at 1310 Walnut in Hays. LINK then began to expand its services to 18 counties in northwest Kansas.

In 1990

1990 marked a significant change for individuals with disabilities with the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This marked a victory for individuals with disabilities. Brian Atwell, former Executive Director, was present at the signing on July 26, 1990 in Washington D.C. by President Bush. This act gave individuals with disabilities the right to equal access to programs and to their community.

In 1995

Construction on the LINK building located at 2401 East 13th in Hays began. Due to the increased service area of 22 counties and the number of consumers needing services, LINK expanded both its personnel and outgrew its old building.

In 1996

The Hays Area Chamber of Commerce has ribbon cutting at the completed construction of the new building on September 20, 1996.

In 2004

LINK celebrates that year its 25th year serving western Kansas.

In 2009

This marked the 30th year for services to individuals with disabilities in western Kansas. A celebration took place at Fort Hays State University (FHSU) with speakers from the disability community and FHSU.

In 2012

Offices in the Hill City and Colby area were closed. Staff transferred to the Hays office or relocated to Great Bend. Offices are located with main office in Hays, satellite offices in Liberal and Great Bend. With current changes to Managed Care Organizations to provide Targeted Case Management, staff reduction is seen.

In 2014

LINK, Inc. celebrated it’s 35th year of serving people with disabilities in Western Kansas.


Currently LINK staff service consumers in 37 counties in Western Kansas, providing Independent Living Services, Transitional Living Services, Financial Management Services, Home Modifications and Money Follows the Person.

  • National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)
  • Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL)
  • Kansas Association of Centers for Independent Living (KACIL)
  • Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas (SILCK)
  • Self-Directed are Providers of Kansas (SDCPK)
  • Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM)
  • Western Kansas Human Resource Managers Association (WKRHMA)
  • Hays Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Garden City Chamber of Commerce
  • Great Bend Chamber of Commerce