November 20, 2014
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Sue Eleoff, who spent 21 years helping people with disabilities, retires
Christopher Carter
Warwick Beacon photo
A DIFFERENT NEWSLETTER: Susan Eleoff, who retired Thursday from the Ocean State Center for Independent Living (OSCIL), gets a laugh from a mock newsletter produced by her co-workers.

After 21 years of working for the Ocean State Center for Independent Living (OSCIL), Sue Eleoff, information and referral specialist, retired on Thursday, July 31.

According to Executive Director Lorna Ricci, who has known Eleoff since she began working for OSCIL, “She is a key person in the center and recognized in the community.”

Eleoff handled in-office referrals and helped people with disabilities to network and gain the resources they need.

At OSCIL, she is also well known for her newsletter. According to what Eleoff’s co-workers say, Signs of Independence is “the best nonprofit newsletter around.” She tries to get as much information from around the office as she possibly can. Service agencies use it as a reliable resource.

OSCIL started in 1988 and Eleoff was hired five years later. Eleoff said she was hired through a newspaper ad. She served as the “gatekeeper” for central services. She was the first to take calls full-time. During her time with OSCIL, she answered about 1,100-1,500 consumer calls a year.

Ricci said Eleoff is skilled at remembering where to find information and asked all the right questions.

At a retirement party held Thursday, Eleoff said, “I love asking questions, I don’t like answering.” Due to her writing skills, she also took over the newsletter. When she began, the newsletter was about four pages, but now it is eight pages. The newsletter is released quarterly.

Eleoff was employed with OSCIL during the transition to the Internet. She found many older people do not and cannot use the computer.

Ricci said, “Even in the age of technology, people still appreciate hard copies.”

Ricci and Henry S. Tarlian, chairman of the board, said if there were one word to describe her, it would be “reliable.” According to Tarlian, Eleoff could handle her workload and made sure that all the messages she got were received; she worked well with her clients and never had a single complaint from anyone. He had said, “Not a lot of people can do all the work she does as well as she is able to. I can’t think of one negative thing to say about her. She will be difficult to replace.”

OSCIL is a nonprofit organization that provides independent living services for Rhode Islanders with disabilities. Many people at her office retirement party said that she would be missed. In her retirement, Eleoff said she would spend time working on a book about her mother. Her mother, who lived in Austria, kept a diary during World War II. It is that work that Eleoff aims to use as the basis for the book.


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