When I was in a car accident in high school, I became well acquainted with the world of aids (not that kind. I quickly learned that I needed to stop saying “I have Aids,” as it was often misinterpreted). I had fractured my femur, causing a calcium deposit on my knee, which prevented it from bending. Simple tasks like putting on socks and shoes became a little arduous.
My parents were able to purchase devices like a "sock cone" with a string that I could just slide on my foot without having to bend. I had another “grabber” device, with which I could control with a lever to help me put on my pants. As necessity is often the mother of invention, my dad created a way for me to put my shoes on by nailing a shoehorn to a broomstick handle.
Fortunately, I only needed these aids for a few months. But boy, was I grateful for them! I was able to feel an independence I'd previously felt I was severely lacked. Things like dressing myself and using the restroom independently had been luxuries I had taken for granted. I couldn’t imagine going my whole life that way. Other people with chronic handicaps, however, depend on this sort of equipment to maintain a “normal” life.
While there are all sorts of devices to assist any manner of physical handicap to accommodate daily functions in life (they are pretty expensive, too), until now, there hasn’t been anything to aid a handicapped dream. May We Help changed all that.
It all started in 2006 when Bill Wood met Patty Kempf. Patty loved to read, but as a result of Cerebral Palsy, she had trouble turning pages. Bill partnered with two other Bills to create an automatic page-turner for her.
They have since expanded into a group of handymen, electricians and engineers, who have come together to enable dreams that otherwise may have been lost.
“We have a team of volunteers – mostly engineers and machinists – who use their knowledge, and love of tinkering, to help people in the handicapped community pursue their passions,” said Chris Kubik, the organization’s volunteer and client coordinator told Kellie Geist-May, of Cincinnati.com.
“We are really a team of personal proto-typers.” Some of their proto-types include a rotating canvas for a painter, a sliding stand for a cellist, a bike that uses one hand and one foot to peddle, an arm rest called a “sky hook” for an artist, to aid with drawing, and a music stand for a far sighted pianist. Volunteer, Genevieve Ivers says, “Those needs can put a huge financial, emotional and physical strain on the family. We just want to enhance the quality of life for these people and, through creativity, bring some normalcy back.”
As if they weren’t already too good to be true, the servicers of "May We Help" are free.
image credit: maywehelp.org