V-LINC loves making a difference in people's lives, so we were happy to receive a letter from the Savicks about the special chair and activity tray we had made for their son, Noah. Designed and created by a Woodlawn High School engineering class with support from our volunteer engineers, the chair has made a significant impact on the family. Noah wouldn't sit more than 3 mintues at the family dinner table in the past, but now he stays at the family table much longer. We will pass the Savick's letter on to our volunteers! One of the Woodlawn High students put a video showing the chair on youtube.
The Savick's Letter to V-LINC:
I am writing to thank you and the folks at V-LINC for your generosity in providing the funding and resources necessary to build a sensory chair for my son, Noah, so that he would be able to sit for longer periods of time at our family’s dinner table each evening. Due to sensory integration issues associated with his diagnosis of autism, and Noah’s constant need to be in motion, he has a difficult time sitting and/or standing still for more than a few minutes at a time. As a result, this makes for a challenging situation at the dinner table each night when our family makes an attempt to spend quality time together. Dinner usually looks more like a jack-in-the-box routine for us than a family of 6 sitting down, and enjoying uninterrupted time together over dinner.
Since receiving the sensory chair, funded through V-LINC [What I Wish for My Child program], and created by the students at Woodlawn High School, Noah now has a sensory table upon which to play with his built-in fidgets, a seat that moves back and forth with his body motion, and a strap to secure him if needed. Our family now enjoys dinner together for an average of 15-20 minutes in one sitting! This is amazing, and dinner has become a welcomed occasion as opposed to a stressful one.
Thank you so much for all that you, and the V-LINC team do for our special children. I can’t say enough great things about your organization, and the support that we feel as a family living with the challenges of autism on a daily basis. While we consider ourselves to be blessed by Noah’s diagnosis, we are certainly grateful for any invention that will make our lives less physically and/or emotionally stressful. Simple daily living routines that many people take for granted present us with huge obstacles in navigating life on a day-to-day basis. Please accept our heart-felt thanks for the creativity and ingenuity your organization brings to improving the quality of life for us and others living with similar challenges.
Stephanie and David Savick
Noah with his mom
UMBC, a V-LINC Partner School, creates devices for people with disabilities.Shown here are Dean Drake (V-LINC President), two UMBC student team members with their Instructor, Dr. Neil Rothman.
On Saturday, September 27th, 45 Volunteers arrived at the State of Maryland's Workforce & Technology Center (also home to V-LINC) to assembe bicycles for eleven special needs children. Engineers lead teams with a wide variety of skills and some with only their goodwill and the heart to help others! Also, occupational and physical therapists were on hand to help with the "fitting" of each bike with a child. Some children required back support, or changes in the positioning of the handle bars or bike seat. Some needed rear steering or breaks for parents to supervise their child while riding. A few children present would not have the best judgement about when to stop.
Here are some photos of the day. Also, volunteers from Northrop Grumman were on hand to tape the day - we hope to have some videos to share later.
Frannie and her dad with a PT and and OT Volunteers at work
V-LINC is holding a second 2014 Bike Clinic to help 8 or more special needs children by customizing a bike or trike to meet their individual needs. Children with disabilities have already been identified and evaluated for bike size and special adaptations needed.
Eleven children with disabilities will receive a safe, dreamy bike or trike! Help us fund the extra parts for the families that can't afford to cover part of the cost!
Click here: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/VLINCBikeClinic/v-lincbikeclinic
Courtney, below, really enjoys her large trike, even though she was scared at first.
On April 30, in spite of adverse weather conditions (flooding!) V-LINC Volunteers were greeted at The Baltmore Engineers Club with carnations and awards.
The Volunteer of the Year Award went to Dr. Andy Conn for his commitment to helping children with disabilities become more independent, and he was one of the four recipeients of the Team of the Year Award - it went to Bike Clinic Team Leaders: Andy Conn, Niel Leon, Chuck Micheals, & John Staehlin.
Above: V-LINC President Dean Drake, Dr. Andy Conn, Executive Director Theo Pinette, Niel Leon. The team received medals for their win. Unfortunately John Staehlin and Chuck Michels were not present for the Team of the Year Awards - Medals are in the mail you two!
Our very deserving Rookie of the Year was Jane Leff, a nurse who lives in Harford County and jumped right into working with our Client Service Team (CST) when she was needed.She has already done many client visits to help evaluate project requests. Jane receives her award from Dean Drake below:
V-LINC's Partner of the Year Award went to: Towson University's Occupational Therapy Health Promotion Initiatives in the Community class and Professor Marlene Riley. The student team that worked with V-LINC and our volunteer, Kevin Capinpin from Northrop Grumman, to learn more about Sensory Processing Disorders among autistic children and youth. Every team member from the OT class showed great dedication to improving the lives of children with autism. Marlene Riley is shown accepting the award from Dean Drake below:
Project of the Year was Jake's Bed with Alarm System designed and made by Laura Lemires' CCBC - Essex class. His bed was made to allow him to crawl up into it by himself and includes several buttons that he can press wherever he is when he runs into any trouble in the night. This allows his mom to sleep much better!
Jake was on hand to help draw prizes for the volunteers who attended the event.
We imposed on Jake to draw winning raffle tickets for some fun Volunteer Prizes too. His mom, Angela, is shown below helping Jake back to their seats. Jake loves to be the center of attention!
The Rose Award goes annually to someone who has contributed significantly to V-LINC and its services over a period of time. This year the award was presented to Hugh Evans, who served for many years on the LINC and V-LINC boards for many years and is an advocate for and supporter of services for children with disbilities.
A few more photos in the BEAUTIFUL Engineers Club
Below: V-LINC Board Members Leslie Margolis, Bob Roswell, Matt Hutchinso, and Ken Johnson
Board Members Ken Johnson and David Li
Above: Lauren Li talks with Sharon Wylie of WBFF TV.
Below: Our guests enjoy the food and start the bidding on Silent Auction items before we convene.
Above: Dean Drake and Theo Pinette enjoy Northrop Grumman retiree Wally Hoff's granddaughter (and Wally) with Joe Ensor of Northrop Grumman.
Below: WBFF's Morning News Anchorman Tom Rodgers starts the bidding on Live Auction items! Tom was a hit and helped V-LINC raise funds for its work.
Above: Rich and Bev Drake with Dean and Dawn Drake. Rich was a VME President and Dean is our current V-LINC President.
Below: Theo Pinette, President Dean Drake and Angela Tyler.
And here is the most important group at the event: V-LINC's Heroes! Shown with Angela Tyler, our Manager of Volunteer Services
For the many volunteers who missed this event due to life or the heavy rains, we missed you, and we'll see you next year!
Arthrogryposis is a rare disorder characterized by multiple joint contractures, which can include muscle weakness and fibrosis. Antoinette has lived with this since birth, yet she manages to pursue her interests, such as controlling a computer with her head and reading books. Of course, she has to rely on others for some other needs.
Her 50-year-old mother currently carries her from floor-to-floor in their home because it is a rental and they cannot make modifications. Antoinette initially requested a better way to get upstairs to her bedroom, but decided to change her request to address what she sees as a bigger problem.
While at home, Antoinette lies on her side and eats off a plate on the bed. When dining in public, someone has to feed her, which would be embarrassing for any 20-year-old.Despite these obstacles, Antoinette remains strong and hopes V-LINC will be able to help her. She would like an engineer to design a way for her to feed herself at the family dinner table, a place of conversation and sharing.
If V-LINC’s Project Review and Acceptance Committee (PRAC) committee approves this request, we will then begin the search for a volunteer who is ready to take on a tough project. This will not be an easy challenge!
We are always looking for creative volunteers and other inventive minds who want to help make life better for others. Please contact V-LINC or fill out a volunteer application if you or someone you know is the right person for this job.
Hannah is an intelligent 12-year-old child with severe osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) type III, a condition that causes very fragile bones. She is very small and is not expected to grow significantly. Her mother, Valerie, tells V-LINC that Hannah has had more than 110 bone fractures in her life already, and both arms and her right leg are currently in casts. She cannot even walk without causing a fracture.
Valerie wanted a way for Hannah to transfer in and out of bed independently. Hannah can scoot across the floor and crawl onto surfaces up to 10 inches from the floor, so Valerie suggested a low bed with the possibility of a recline for comfort. Several members of our Client Service Team (CST) contacted Hannah's mom to learn more about Hannah and report their findings back to the rest of the committee. The CST had a difficult time deciding whether or not V-LINC's volunteers might provide a solution without harming Hannah. Difficult decisions such as this are ones the CST is faced with all the time. Our hearts are grabbed.
V-LINC volunteers and Hannah's mom put their heads together and found a way to make Hannah's wish for a small, Hannah-size couch was granted, along with another project to create a ramp so Hannah can crawl onto her sofa by herself. Hannah has heart and does not let her fragility keep her from being a teenager and full of life.
Hannah is able to sit in her own Hannah-size sofa now. She can crawl up a soft ramp to sit and then she tilt the sofa to rest comfortably. A wheel chair is not a comfortabe place to be all day long, so this is a very welcome addition in her life.
Taryn, who is 28, has mild-to-moderate mental retardation, is speech and hearing impaired, and has vestibular impairment, which causes frequent falls. In spite of so many limitations, she is able to work and loves her job. She contacted V-LINC with a request for adaptive device to make work a little bit easier. Taryn works in a day program at Gallagher Services as an assistant to the horticultural therapist. In her position, she has to transport the necessary supplies – plants, pots, soil, etc. – using her rollator or a cart donated by a local market. Unfortunately, neither piece of equipment is ideal: the rollator is too short for her, and the cart lacks a braking system.
The shopping cart is the ideal size for the job, however. V-LINC's Client Service Team volunteers believe its engineering volunteers will be able to fit it with hand brakes and a hinged flip up work surface so can be Taryn safer while at work.