Friday, September 9, 2016

Volunteers help make our world go 'round

Photo of a missionary working on a wheelchair battery

Utahns, are you looking for a place to serve? We have three!

The Utah Assistive Technology Program has long taken pride in its volunteers, who have helped us serve Utahns with disabilities for years. We have enjoyed the help of people who have retired but not stopped working; of students and community members; and, most recently, LDS missionaries fulfilling a service requirement.

AT Lab Coordinator Clay Christensen has two messages for those who donate their time to the AT Labs or CReATE: Thank you. And please don't stop.

Lately Christensen has been swamped with wheelchair maintenance requests--perhaps because insurance doesn't always cover the need, maybe because it's hard for patrons to find someone who can do it. He is grateful for the volunteers who help him keep up with the demand while still tending to other aspects of the AT Lab mission: demonstration, training, research and the development of prototype devices that help people with disabilities become more independent.

"It makes a huge difference," he said while two missionaries worked on moving and disassembling wheelchairs. "The labor these guys did today would've taken me five hours." (The two missionaries worked there for two hours that day.)

"It's fun," said Elder Weston, who has been coming twice a week. "It's hands-on, I get to tear things apart, and I help people change their lives."

"It's good to stay busy, and know something good's going to come out of it," said Elder Weston, who worked in the lab at the same time.

They are examples of what CReATE Program Coordinator Tom Boman said is ideal volunteers, because they come in on a regular basis. Boman, too, has benefited from volunteer help, which has eased the demands on his time. The program, based in Salt Lake City, refurbishes used mobility devices and transfers them to people who need them at an affordable cost. CReATE now transfers more than twice the number of devices as it did in 2014.

Volunteers help Boman keep up with the demand and deliver record numbers of mobility devices into the hands of people who need them. CReATE has enjoyed 30 to 50 hours per week of donated time in recent months, but Boman said they could always use more. "Volunteers who are willing to come in on a regular basis can really help us out," he said.

The new AT Lab at USU-Uintah Basin in Roosevelt is already feeling a similar pinch: lots of donated devices that could use some tweaking, lots of need, and not enough hours in a day. Lab Coordinator Cameron Cressall said volunteers would be welcome.

To find out more about volunteering with UATP, contact:

Clay Christensen, Logan Assistive Technology Lab, 435.797.0699
Tom Boman, CReATE, Salt Lake City, 801.877.9398
Cameron Cressall, USU-Uintah Basin AT Lab (Roosevelt) 435.722.1714

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