In a constant quest to foster inclusion for all, a Langley organization has taken what it calls a few large steps forward during the past year.
Langley Pos-Abilities is a charity organization changing “disabilities into possibilities” through the provision of equipment for those in need and through community education, said founder and president Zosia Ettenberg.
When the group first started six years ago, it focused almost exclusively on providing the equipment to people living with disabilities, who couldn’t otherwise afford the tools.
“People in the community donate the equipment and devices that they no longer need, we fix it up and give it our to members of the community who cannot afford to get the equipment any other way,” Ettenberg explained.
She ran the operation out of her home and stored equipment in a small storage unit.
As the organization grew in name and size, it ended up requiring two storage units to house all the donated equipment that is made available to Langley people with disabilities.
“It never failed that when we had a request for a piece of equipment, we always looked in the wrong unit first. It became very difficult because we had to empty so much out to get at the piece required,” she said, noting how it also wasn’t the most ideal place for donors to drop off equipment, or for clients to try out pieces.
Finding a facility that could double as storage and office space – in a central location, adjacent to the freeway, at 200th Street – has been a huge bonus, she said.
“This facility met the bill,” Ettenberg added, noting a few dozen people came out last week for an open house held to show off the new digs.
“The purpose of the open house was [also] to show the community where we live and we had hoped to have the professionals in the medical field attend so they could recommend to their patients where to go to get help,” she said, noting heavy rains keep attendance low.
The cost of the larger facility has “obviously” increased to, which Ettenberg said explains why they are also doing more to fundraise.
“Now that we have a charitable donation number, it makes it easier to receive donations from the general public,” she said, but events like their recent fashion show, are hoped to help offset some of their increased costs.
In the meantime, Ettenberg said a lot of effort is now being focused on education about people with disabilities, and a general effort to promote inclusion.
Last year, Langley Pos-Abilities challenged 10 well-known members of the community to try on a disability. They spent four hours in a wheelchair, and Ettenberg said: “It was an eye-openers for all of them.”
It was only the beginning, she elaborated. The group’s plan for the future include visiting organizations and events in the community with a wheelchair obstacle course, and allowing more people to “try on a disability.”
They’re also hoping, in the near future, to build a small work station in their new facility where small repairs can be done,
And, one of the more long-term goals, she noted, is to encourage other communities to start similar “Pos-Abilities” society.
Langley Pos-Abilities needs volunteers to help with a variety of different projects and events.
In particular, Ettenberg said right now, they need volunteers to learn how to put the wheelchair obstacle course together and take it out into the community as part of their education initiatives.
“We are having an all-day workshop on Saturday, July 9, to ‘learn the trade,’ so to speak,” she said. Anyone interested in helping is asked to contact Zosia Ettenberg at me 604-961-0117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Our next big event is A Day of Pos-Abilities, on Saturday, Aug 6 at Douglas Park, and we always need a lot of volunteers for that event, too,” she said.